Czech politicians have agreed to amend the constitution quickly after the
Constitutional Court threw the date of early elections into doubt. On
Tuesday the court said it needed more time to deliberate on the
constitutionality of an amendment passed by the Chamber of Deputies
short its last term. Consequently, judges suspended a decision by Czech
President Václav Klaus to hold elections on October 9 and 10. But after
chairing a meeting of party leaders and senior constitutional figures at
Prague Castle on Wednesday, Mr Klaus said they had not accepted the idea
that early elections had been lost. He said an expert group would draft a
constitutional amendment within hours or days.
This unprecedented situation arose after the Constitutional Court received a complaint by independent MP Miloš Melčák; he said the amendment bringing the previous parliament to an end violated his right to serve out a full four-year term.
The Constitutional Court, under pressure from politicians to speed up its
processes, has said it will discuss the law cutting short the term of the
last parliament in an open hearing next Thursday. However, it is still
unlikely elections will be held on the dates originally scheduled. The
president and representatives of the main parties are expected to attend
the court session in Brno.
The early elections will bring to an end to the leadership of Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who has headed a cabinet of technocrats since a government led by Mirek Topolánek of the Civic Democrats lost a no-confidence vote in March.
Political scientists say the constitutional crisis may harm the country’s two biggest parties when elections are eventually held, the CTK news agency reported. They believe that increased voter disillusionment could lead to less support for the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats, CTK said. Pundit Rudolf Kučera said those parties representatives may pay for appearing more concerned about the millions they could have wasted on campaigning than about the country’s constitutional order. The big parties have pledged to go on campaigning.
Czech police have arrested a 41-year-old man who faked his own death in order to evade justice 12 years ago. Petr Žižka, who has confessed, faked his own drowning in Italy in 1997, Právo reported. He had fled the Czech Republic on a family member’s passport after being sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for robbery, the newspaper said. An international warrant for his arrest was dropped when his death was reported. After returning to the Czech Republic two years ago he lived under a relative’s name.
Twenty-three Czech and Slovak holidaymakers were injured when a coach they were travelling in crashed in Turkey on Tuesday. Seven of those taken to hospital have undergone surgery, while two more were awaiting operations. None of the injured are suffering from life-threatening complications. The accident occurred when the bus, which was carrying 43 people, went off the road in a mountainous area 70 kilometres from the resort of Antalya.
The Czech Republic’s best known opponent of daylight saving time, Stanislav Pecka, has died. For nearly three decades Mr Pecka campaigned against the practice of getting more light out of the day by advancing clocks by one hour in summer, even taking a complaint against the system to the European Court of Human Rights. He began fighting the concept in 1981, two years after daylight saving time was introduced in Czechoslovakia. Mr Pecka believed the system was injurious to health.
A decision on whether Tomáš Rosický will play for the Czech football team in a key World Cup qualifier against Slovakia on Saturday should be taken after training on Thursday, the player told the news website novinky.cz. Rosický has been absent from the game for a over a year and a half with injury problems. The Arsenal midfielder said whatever happened he would not be able to play for the full 90 minutes in Bratislava. The Czechs have to beat Slovakia in order to keep alive their hopes of reaching the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The Constitutional Court has ruled that early elections, currently
scheduled for October 9-10 and approved by Parliament via a constitutional
amendment, may be unconstitional. Technically, the ruling postpones the
enforceability of a presidential decree to declare early elections;
President Klaus has said the decision’s effect will be to postpone early
The ruling was the result of a formal complaint brought by independent MP Miloš Melčák regarding the constitutionality of the amendment, which shorted the tenure of members of Parliament in order to initiate early elections. The complaint, which was filed last week, states that the amendment was a violation of Mr Melčák’s right to be elected and serve out his term of office, and maintains that the constitution provides for early elections only in “extraordinary moments”, such as a national emergency.
The Constitutional Court has emphasised that it will continue to review the case, saying it needs adequate time to reach a final verdict. The court also noted the possibility that the complaint could ultimately be dismissed.
President Václav Klaus has called the ruling an unprecedented measure
that was entirely political and would have a fundamental impact on the
political system in the country. The president also stated he will work to
find a speedy solution to the crisis caused by Tuesday’s ruling.
Interim Prime Minister Jan Fischer, who has been leading the country since the centre-right government of Mirek Topolánek lost a vote of no confidence in March, said he has taken the decision into account but had no immediate comment.
Civic Democratic chairman Mirek Topolánek spoke of an absurdity of record proportions, adding that the ruling could impact negatively not only on the country’s political development, but also on the current economic crisis.
Jíři Paroubek, head of the Social Democratic Party said that the decision went against the interests of Czech citizens and the country needs a stable government at a time of crisis.
The leader of the Christian Democrats, Cyril Svoboda, has said that doubt over early elections demands the immediate creation of a new political government, as the current caretaker government was only named to see the country through to early elections.
The parties were united in calling for cooperation to resolve the matter swiftly, and have asked the Constitutional Court to do likewise.
In other news, the Slovak-owned low-cost carrier SkyEurope, the second largest airline at Prague Airport, has gone bankrupt. Several hundred Czech citizens remain stranded abroad by the sudden closure, which has left another 7,000 clients with non-refundable tickets, as Prague’s Ruzyně Airport said it would no longer dispatch SkyEurope flights due to unsettled payments. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it is assisting the stranded travellers, and that most have already purchased return fares at their own expense. SkyEurope operated dozens of flights daily to 21 European cities.