Police pyrotechnics experts have gotten within 300 metres of the epicenter of a blast which destroyed a munitions depot, using a remote control drone and heavy equipment. For the second day they are investigating the site in the village of Vrbětice in South Moravia. Equipment they are using includes an armored vehicle and a special firefighters' 'tank'. Two people have been missing since the blast on Thursday and are feared dead.
Czech President Miloš Zeman maintains that candidates' personalities rather than political affiliation played a deciding role in the second round of the Senate elections. He expressed the view on Sunday through his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček. The head-of-state also suggested that a lower voter turnout in the Senate elections was par for course, saying that voters lost interest if their candidate failed to make it to the second round.
The head of TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg, has reflected on his party's failure to win a single seat in the Senate elections. He promised that the party would begin internal reforms at once, but also made clear the current leadership would remain until a leadership conference was held next year. There is speculation that Mr Schwarzenberg, who is 76, is planning on stepping down. Last week, members of TOP 09's Prague branch quit the party following a long period of infighting. The party lost in Prague, coming second in the communal elections.
Analysts also see the Senate results as strong confirmation that the Christian Democrats have returned as a significant political force. On Saturday, they clinched four seats; in addition, three Christian Democrat/Green candidates also won. Political analyst Jiří Pehe told Rádio Impuls the party was well-positioned and could become the main force on the political right; he suggested the party had done well because its priorities and values were well-understood by voters. The other parties on the right side of the spectrum, the Civic Democrats and TOP 09, have lost support since the collapse of the centre-right government of Petr Něcas.
Political analysts are characterizing the elections to the Czech Senate as mainly a win for the country's ruling coalition. Experts contacted by the Czech News Agency suggested in the past Senate elections had often seen protest votes, which they said had not been the case this time around. The ruling centre-left coalition of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats won enough seats to secure a comfortable majority in the upper chamber of Parliament. The STEM polling agency's Jan Hartl called the results a 'positive signal' for the government. At the same time, the election saw a record-low turnout by voters, leading some to again question the necessity of the upper house. The big loser in the Senate election, political analysts suggest, is the right-of-centre party TOP 09, which failed to win a single seat in four races in the second round.
A Czech mountaineer died on Saturday in the Austrian Alps. The 40-year-old climber fell to his death when a safety device snapped on a descent on Reichenspitze. The mountaineer was descending with a fellow climber after having successfully reached the 3,303 metre high peak. At the time of the accident he and the other climber had been making their way down to the Rainbachkees glacier. The other climber eventually reached a mountain chalet on his own to inform the authorities. A helicopter was sent to the scene of the fall; there was nothing medics could do for the mountaineer.
Three parties in the country's centre-left coalition won 18 out of 27
seats up for grabs in the Senate elections. The coalition will enjoy a
majority of 46 in the 81-member upper chamber of Parliament. The Social
Democrats clinched 10 seats, the ANO movement four, and the Christian
Democrats four. All the same, the position of the Social Democrats
weakened: until now, the leftist party had dominated the Senate, they now
have 35 seats overall.
The opposition Civic Democrats, Mayors and Independents (STAN) and the Greens won two seats each. The small Party of Citizens´ Rights and the Party of Entrepreneurs won one seat each.
The vote turnout was a record low, below 17 percent.
Notable personalities who won their senate race include the former rector of Charles University Václav Hampl, the founder of the Our Child Foundation Zuzana Baudyšová, the Minister for Human Rights Jiří Dienstbier, and lottery firm billionaire Ivo Valenta.
Czech hockey forward Radim Vrbata has made an excellent start with his new team in the NHL, scoring three goals in three games. On Friday, Vrbata, who plays for Vancouver, scored in the 36th minute against Edmonton, slotting home a pass by Sedin. The goal proved the winner: the Canucks beat the Oilers 2:0.
Pyrotechnics experts are hoping on Saturday to begin searching through a munitions depot which was destroyed by an explosion on Thursday. Because of the danger of additional explosions, an armored vehicle and a special firefighters' 'tank' will be used at the site in the village of Vrbětice in South Moravia. Two people have been missing since the blast and are feared dead.
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