The three parties negotiating the formation of a coalition government have
agreed on the make-up of a 15-member cabinet. The deal was arrived at
following more than seven hours of talks with the biggest party, the
right-wing Civic Democrats, making concessions to the smaller two parties,
TOP 09 and Public Affairs.
The post of interior minister has been handed to Public Affairs’ leader
Radek John. The Civic Democrats had expressed reservations about the party
getting that post because of the links of one of its leaders with a private
security firm. Civic Democrat Prime Minister Petr Necaš said guarantees
had been given that the firm would not bid for public contracts.
TOP 09 deputy leader and former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek returns to head the Ministry of Finance in spite of earlier comments from Mr. Necaš that his party should occupy it. Meanwhile, TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg returns to the post of foreign minister and the Civic Democrats’ Alexandr Vondra will take the defence portfolio. The Civic Democrats have six ministerial posts, TOP 09 five and Public Affairs four. Prime Minister Petr Nečas of the Civic Democrats says he hopes to see a coalition agreement signed in about a week’s time.
The proposed cabinet has two striking characteristics: its size and the absence of any women in it. The 15-strong team is one of the smallest in the Czech Republic’s history with the number of seats equalling the minimum set by the short-lived Civic Democrat government of Mirek Topolánek in 2006. The outgoing government of prime minister Jan Fisher had 18 members. The lack of any women is less unusual with the first government of Civic Democrat premier Václav Klaus and the initial team of Social Democrat Miloš Zeman being made up entirely of men.
Negotiations between the three coalition partners continued on Wednesday on the four out of seven policy areas where they have still to reach agreement. Hopes have been expressed that with a deal on the cabinet format, the remaining sticking points can be settled faster. The parties sealed a deal on the law and corruption chapter of negotiations on Tuesday. Policy priorities have also been hammered out on defence and foreign affairs and farming and the environment. Talks Wednesday were due to focus on budget issues.
The centre-right parties poised to form the next government said they had agreed on a state deficit of 135 billion crowns or 4.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product next year. Incoming Prime Minister Petr Necaš said the planned central government budget counted on savings of 54 billion crowns. The declared target is much more ambitious than the 4.8 percent of GDP deficit for next year that Mr. Necaš mentioned on June 11. Last year’s budget deficit was 5.9 percent with a 5.3 percent deficit aimed at this year. The caretaker Czech government had already agreed to cut the deficit to 3.0 percent, the limit for adopting the single currency euro and judged as a sustainable deficit level, over the next three years.
Respected Czech National Bank governor Zdeněk Tůma stepped down after a decade in the job on Wednesday. Mr. Tůma decided to leave a few months before his term expired to clear the way for his successor and other board appointments. Czech President Vaclav Klaus rounded off those board appointments on Tuesday when he named Kamil Janáček to the board of the Czech National Bank. Mr Janáček is an economics professor and the chief economist of Komerční banka. At the same time, Mr Klaus promoted Vladimír Tomšík to vice-governor. He replaces Miroslav Singer, who was recently selected to become the new central bank governor. Mr. Tůma built up the bank’s and his own reputation during his long term. He was recently named one of the world top seven central bankers by the Global Finance magazine.
Preliminary police statistics released Wednesday suggest 71 people died on Czech roads during June. That figure is a record low for the last 21 years. The previous June minimum was set in 2009 when 79 died with a maximum in June 2003 with 147 deaths. The Ministry of Transport is counting on road deaths this year not exceeding 650, which would be a record minimum for a whole year.
Czech household debt rose in May to pass the trillion crown mark. The debt burden climbed by 6.2 billion crowns compared with April to reach 1.004 trillion crowns. Over the last year the figure has risen by just over 81 billion crowns. The total household debt burden represents around 57 percent of their income, a debt ratio which according to economists is still well below the levels of most West European countries. Company debt meanwhile shrank by around 78 billion crowns in May to 898 billion crowns.
A 34-year-old miner was killed after an underground rock fall at the Darkov mine near Karviná, in the east of the country, on Wednesday. Five other workers were injured but were not in a serious condition according to a spokesman for the mining company OKD. The death is the third so far this year at the mining complex, equalling the total number of deaths in 2010.
The Ostrava regional court has postponed until September 6 the trial of four alleged neo-Nazis accused of an arson attack which nearly killed a young Roma girl and left her scarred for life. The trial of the four men, who could face life sentences for the crime, has been running since May. The attack happened in April 2009 when three Molotov cocktails were thrown into the house of a Roma family at Vítkov near Opava in the far east of the country. The prosecution says the attacks were motivated by the accused’s extremist right-wing views and wish to mark the 120th anniversary of the birth of Adolf Hitler. A recording between two of the accused was offered as evidence at the start of this week by the prosecution. On the tape, one said that he regretted they had not imitated an attack in Hungary where two members of a Roma family were shot when they fled their firebombed home.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych booked a place in the last four of the
Wimbledon Men’s singles after beating top seed and title holder Roger
Federer. The 12th seeded Czech won 6:4, 3:6, 6:1, 6:4. The win is the first
time he had got so far at Wimbledon but follows up from a semi-finals place
at the French Open, his greatest success to date at a Grand Slam
tournament. Berdych had faced Federer 10 times on all surfaces with the
Swiss winning eight of those past confrontations.
In the next round Berdych faces the Serbian number three seed, Novak
Meanwhile, tennis player Petra Kvitová sensationally reached the women’s semi-finals at Wimbledon on Tuesday. Kvitová, who is 20, saved five match points on her way to a 4:6 7:6 8:6 victory over Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.
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