President Václav Klaus on Wednesday voiced agreement with the view of Social Democrat leader Jiří Paroubek that general elections in the country should only be held provided they are incontestable before the Constitutional Court. Speaking after a meeting with Mr Paroubek at Prague Castle, Mr Klaus blamed the current political chaos on the Constitutional Court’s decision to postpone the early general elections planned for October. The president also said that if early general elections are not held in the near future, the caretaker government of Jan Fischer should be given a strong mandate. On Tuesday, the Social Democrats unexpectedly pulled out of a political agreement under which the lower house of the Czech Parliament was to have been dissolved, paving the way for early elections.
The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk has spoken out against this country’s politicians, saying they have led the Czech Republic into a constitutional crisis. He said that for many politicians, the concepts of ‘common good’ and ‘helping society’ were unknown, as the recent political tumult has shown. On his website, the cardinal wrote that selfishness and moral poverty had also been factors behind the recent economic crisis.
The Czech government called on a group of Civic Democrat senators on
Wednesday not to delay their constitutional complaint concerning the
treaty. The cabinet said that postponing the completion of the treaty’s
ratification process would negatively affect the Czech Republic’s
standing within the EU.
Both chambers of the Czech parliament approved the EU’s reform document earlier this year. However, President Václav Klaus refused to put his signature to it and finalize the ratification process. He said he would wait for a group of Euro-sceptic Civic Democrat senators to file a petition to the Constitutional Court to see whether the Lisbon treaty is in line with Czech law. The senators expect the petition will be ready by early October. Meanwhile, the cabinet said on Wednesday there was no reason to delay the complaint.
Prime Minister Jan Fischer told reporters on Wednesday that his cabinet
would petition the country’s Supreme Administrative Court asking it to
ban the extremist Workers’ Party. The petition was drafted with the help
of a respected attorney, Tomáš Sokol, and Mr Fischer said his government
was confident the request was well-grounded.
Experts consider the right-wing nationalist Workers’ Party to be a gathering of extremists linked to the country’s neo-Nazi movement. In November 2008, the party organized a march on a Romany ghetto in the northern town of Litvínov which ended in violent clashes with the police. Shortly after the former Czech government tried to get the party banned by the court; but the request was denied in March of this year, on the grounds that the appeal was poorly grounded.
Czech National Bank board member Pavel Řežábek told the Bloomberg news
agency on Wednesday that a growing deficit of the state budget could
the central bank to raise interest rates even before the country’s
economy has recovered from the recession. Mr Řežábek warned that the
current interest rate, which at 1.25 percent is one of the lowest in the
country’s history, might present considerable risks should the Czech
Republic’s economy deteriorate.
The Czech government approved last week a draft budget for 2010 with a deficit of 230 billion crowns, or more than 13 billion US dollars. The cabinet is at the same time pushing to introduce a series of cost-cutting measures that would cut the deficit further to around 170 billion crowns. Finance Minister Eduard Janota said on Wednesday the cabinet would wait to see if the main political parties agree with these measures before putting them forward.
The Vatican hopes that the upcoming visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the
Czech Republic will help pave the way for the ratification of a treaty
between the Czech state and the Vatican, a Vatican spokesman told the news
agency ČTK on Wednesday. On his three-day visit starting September 26th
the Pope will be accompanied by Vatican state secretary, Cardinal Tarsicio
Bertone. The secretary is scheduled to meet Czech PM Jan Fischer to
The Czech Republic is one of several European countries that do not have a treaty with the Vatican. The country was close to ratifying it in 2003 but it was rejected by Parliament’s lower house.
Only 20 percent of Czech schoolteachers use computers in class, according to a survey by the Czech education ministry released on Wednesday. Most computers in Czech schools are out of date, and 44 percent of them are older than five years. The schools complain that they do not have the funds to afford modern IT technology as state subsidies designed for computers and other IT equipment have decreased by 80 percent in the last three years.
Two people died in a shooting incident on the outskirts of Prague on Wednesday, one of them a policeman. The other victim was a 28-year-old habitual criminal who was supposed to start serving a jail sentence. The shooting broke out when police were trying to arrest the criminal but he drove off in a car. He then crashed into a police automobile and shot a 27-year-old policeman. Another policeman then fired at the runaway man and killed him. The police are searching for two more accomplices.
Kometa Brno fired its coach Vladimír Kýhos on Wednesday over the team’s poor performance and results in the first four rounds of the Czech hockey top division. Kometa, which bought the rights to play in the Extraliga, lost all four games and is last with zero points. On Tuesday, Kometa lost 4:0 to Kladno.
A vote on whether the Czech lower house should dissolve itself, paving the way for early elections, was not tabled as expected on Tuesday, after the Social Democrats withdrew support for the motion. The Social Democrats had voted last week for a constitutional amendment, bringing about early elections should the Chamber of Deputies vote to dissolve itself. But in a shock announcement on Tuesday morning, party leader Jiří Paroubek called the dissolution of the lower house ‘too risky’ and said his party now favoured regular elections to be held when lawmakers’ mandates expired next June. Shortly afterwards, Communist deputies said that they would abstain from any vote on the dissolution of Parliament, in effect scuppering the motion entirely. In the end, not enough votes were mustered to have the motion tabled for discussion. It now looks like elections will be held next June, when politicians’ four-year mandates come to an end.