Polling stations opened on Friday afternoon across the Czech Republic for people to vote in municipal and Senate elections. One third of the Czech Senate’s 81 seats are being contested, along with positions on municipal councils. This election sees a record number of candidates in both areas, with 226,000 people vying for municipal posts (with three to four candidates per post) and 227 candidates competing for 27 Senate seats. Polls are open from 2:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. and on Saturday from 8:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. A second round of voting in the Senate elections will take place next weekend.
In related news, Czech President Václav Klaus, who cast his ballot in the local elections in Prague on Friday, called on Czech voters to come out to polling stations and vote. Mr Klaus said the election will show whether people still support the new parties that got seats in the lower house of Parliament in May’s general elections. The Czech President told reporters he did not use the option of preferential votes on his ballots; he said he believed “serious parties” should get the chance to run the city, rather than “instant”, inexperienced candidates.
The Czech Republic might block a trade agreement between the European
Union and Canada over visas re-imposed by Ottawa on Czech citizens, the
Czech ambassador to the EU, Milena Vicenová, told Czech Radio on Friday.
Ms Vicenová said that Prague is considering rejecting the agreement which
is being negotiated; the deal should facilitate trade between the EU and
Canada, and is expected to yield billions of euros. The agreement has to
approved by the parliaments of all EU member states; Ms Vicenová said if
Canada does not change its position on the visa issue, Czech lawmakers
might reject the treaty.
Prague has been pushing for the abolition of Canadian visas for Czech citizens ever since they were re-imposed in July 2009, following a wave of asylum applications, many of them from Romanies.
Between January and September this year, 543 people were killed on Czech roads, which is the lowest number since the fall of communism, the police headquarters said on Friday. Compared to the same period last year, 59 fewer people died in road crashes. However, the number of traffic accidents rose to just over 55,000 in the first nine months of this year. Drivers under the influence caused over 3,700 accidents, in which 66 people died. So far, the worst month this year was July with 104 victims. The head of the Czech traffic police, Leoš Tržil, however warned of excessive optimism, saying the statistics could significantly worsen before the year’s end.
The police search for a nine-year-old girl who had gone missing in the Prague district of Troja went nation-wide on Friday. The girl was last seen leaving a group of friends after school on Wednesday and did not return home. A police dog found her bag and a bottle near an area of garden cottages near the Kobylisy metro station on the route to her house. Mounted units and a helicopter with thermo-vision are also involved in the search. A police spokeswoman said on Friday the search would continue until the case is cleared.
The Czech Republic and France would like to cooperate on energy and energy security issues. The countries will form a working group in which they will work in preparation for next year’s EU summit on energy, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg told reporters on Friday after meeting the French secretary of state for European affairs, Pierre Lellouche, in Prague. The working group should focus on connecting Europe’s energy networks, as well as on gas and oil supplies, said Mr Schwarzenberg. The French official also expressed interest in the completion of the Czech Temelín nuclear plant; the French company Areva is one of the bidders in the tender.
The Czech Mining Authority fined on Friday the Metrostav building company one million crowns, or less than 60,000 US dollars, for the collapse of Prague’s Blanka tunnel that occurred in July. The authority said the firm used a wrong technological method in the construction of the tunnel. July’s collapse was the third that occurred since the start of the construction in 2007. When finished, the 28-billion crown tunnel complex will be part of the Prague ring road.
The Czech pavilion at the EXPO in Shanghai received the youth award for the most creative contribution to international cultural exchange, the Czech pavilion’s spokesman Jiří F. Potužník said on Friday. The Czech exposition, entitled Fruits of Civilization, presents the country some 30 artefacts, including a relief from the statue of St John of Nepomuk from Prague’s Charles Bridge.
The police arrested a man who seven years ago allegedly robbed a Taiwanese tourist, a police spokeswoman said on Friday. The robbery took place in Prague in 2003; the alleged robber, who was 18 at the time, attacked a 62-year-old Taiwanese national and stole his camera, severely injuring the foreigner who died in hospital four days later. The man was caught because of his DNA profile; after he was later arrested for other crimes, the investigators matched his DNA profile to the samples they collected at the scene of the robbery. The police spokeswoman said the man, who he had confessed to the crime, faced up to 15 years in jail.
Sponsors of the Czech national football team have objected to the team’s away games only broadcast on cable with a small number of subscribers, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Friday. Tuesday’s Euro 2012 qualifier between Lichtenstein and the Czech Republic was only broadcast on Sport1, a cable channel with around 100,000 subscribers. The same station will broadcast a match in Scotland next year, while an away game against Spain will most likely not be shown at all. The Česká spořitelna bank and T-Mobile said they would prefer the games be screened on channels with nation-wide coverage.