Polls have opened in the second and final round of voting on one third of the seats in the Czech Senate. The Social Democrats will gain control of the upper house for the first time if they manage to secure at least 12 of the 22 seats they are in the running for. By contrast, to retain control of the Senate, the three parties in the centre-right coalition government would need to come first in all 21 constituencies in which their candidates reached the head-to-head runoffs. Twenty-seven of the upper house’s 81 seats are being contested, with polling stations set to close at 2 pm on Saturday.
If the Social Democrats do manage to win control of the Senate, they could make life difficult for the cabinet of Prime Minister Petr Nečas. Acting leader Bohuslav Sobotka has said the party would block government plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. The Social Democrats would also be able to slow down, but not overturn, economic reforms and other measures planned by the coalition.
Police have charged a man with kidnapping in connection with the disappearance of a nine-year-old girl in Prague last week. The man, who denies abducting Anna Janatková, has been released after a court rejected a police request that he be held on remand. The accused was arrested on Tuesday after forensic tests showed traces of his DNA on items belonging to the missing girl. The 41-year-old told police he had been at the spot where she disappeared on the day she went missing and had touched her school bag. Police are continuing to search the Prague district of Troja where the girl was last seen on October 13.
Speaking ahead of a European Union summit on economic and budgetary issues planned for the end of next week, the Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, said on Friday that he and the country’s president, Václav Klaus, shared very similar views in that area. Mr Nečas said after talks with the president at Prague Castle that the Czech government would welcome all steps aimed at getting EU members to reduce their budget deficits. However, Prague does not agree with steps to limit national sovereignty by, for instance, making governments submit draft budgets to Brussels before sending them to national parliaments, he said.
The body of a three-year-old boy who went missing in Hrádek nad Nisou in north Bohemia was discovered in a river a few hundred metres from his home on Friday. Dozens of police officers and volunteers had been searching for the boy since he was reported missing a day earlier. He had been last seen playing in the garden by his home.
CzechTourism has launched a new campaign aimed at attracting Roman Catholic tourists from around the world to visit religious sites in the Czech Republic. The state agency said on Friday it was working on several projects that should attract more Catholic tourists, and has issued brochures in Italian and Spanish about the country’s religious monuments. One big draw could be the 1150th anniversary in three years’ time of the arrival of the missionaries Cyril and Methodius in the Czech lands, to which Pope Benedict XVI has been invited.
Alex Zucker has received the National Translation Award from the American Association of Literary Translators for his translation of All This Belongs to Me, the debut novel by the Czech writer Petra Hulová. Zucker, who lived in Prague in the first half of the 1990s, specialises in translating Czech authors. He has translated work by Jachým Topol, and is currently preparing the English version of a novel by the France-based Czech novelist Patrik Ouředník.
Trabant enthusiasts have been gathering for a weekend of events celebrating the East German car on the outskirts of the Czech capital. Organisers said they expected up to 150 Trabis to appear at the Trabantiáda, which is being held by the lake Džbán in Prague 6. Vehicles produced by the East German concern IFA in the communist era, such as Wartburg cars and Barkas vans, are also taking part.
Sparta Prague drew with Lausanne in a Europa League group game in the Czech capital on Thursday night. The Czech champions had been 3:1 up after 75 minutes when the Swiss team scored twice – including one goal deep into injury time – to level the game at 3:3. Sparta remain second in the group behind CSKA Moscow. Their next game in Europe’s second tier competition is away to Lausanne on November 4.
The Czech centre-right government of Prime Minister Petr Nečas has marked
its first 100 days in office. The daily Lidové noviny on Thursday gave the
prime minister its highest score for the initial period in office. A poll
of readers put the prime minister in third place behind the Justice
Minister and Foreign Minister. Worst ranked by the paper and its readers
was Minister of the Interior and Public Affairs party leader Radek John.
The three-way coalition government formed after elections in May has described itself as a government of fiscal responsibility, pushing through cuts in public spending and sparking protests, especially from plans to cut public sector wages and staff to save around 10 percent in labour costs. The business daily Hospodářske noviny said that in spite of its failures the government has embarked on its main pledge of making savings.