Leading coalition MPs say Parliament’s rules of procedure should be changed to preclude filibustering. Speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Petr Gazdík of TOP 09 and Zbyněk Stanjura of the Civic Democratic party said such a change could be made within a matter of months. Constitutional lawyer Jan Kysela told the programme that a model for change could be found in Germany, where the time allowed to parties for speeches would be derived from their number of seats in Parliament. The lower house of the Czech Parliament has been deadlocked since Tuesday as left-wing opposition MPs obstruct the passage of fifteen coalition reform bills returned by the Senate. Right-wing parties have also availed themselves of the option of filibustering in the past, most recently at the beginning of last year.
Health care unions in the Visegrad group countries intend to join forces in new alliance. Union leaders from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary attending a two-day meeting in Budapest said their aim would be to improve the working conditions for health care workers and to increase pressure on their governments to achieve that goal. The new federation wants the wages of young doctors to reach 1.5 times the average wage and three times the average for specialists.
The percentage of entrepreneurs among those contributing to the national economy in the Czech Republic is the fifth highest in the EU, according to an analysis conducted by the Czech Statistical Office. That number reached 17% in the second quarter of 2011, with the vast majority of private businessmen consisting of entrepreneurs without employees. Only Greece, Italy, Poland and Romania have a higher share, with the latter two countries’ result heavily influenced by the high number of private agriculturalists.
The Czech electricity and gas market operator reports that the number of clients switching energy providers in the country is continually rising due to the high cost of electricity. More than 660,000 clients changed providers in the first ten months of the year, more than double the number for the whole of 2010. The RWE Transgas, E.ON and Pražská plynárenská have raised theitr gas prices several times this year, in some cases by more than 10%. Electricity prices also grew this year and are expected to rise again in 2012 by around 4.3%. Most of the migrating clients have been housholds.
Heavy smog conditions in municipalities across the Czech Republic that have persisted since last Tuesday worsened overnight on Sunday. The hardest-hit area is that of Moravia-Silesia, where seven localities reported dust levels in excess of 100 micrograms per cubic metre, some double that amount. Excessive smog rates have also been reported however in South Moravia, Central Bohemia, in the Pardubice-Hradec Králové area and in Prague. The permissible limit of dust per cubic metre is 50mcg.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech suffered a broken nose in a Chelsea match at Blackburn on Saturday. Concerns that the injury could jeopardise the star player’s participation on the Czech team in the upcoming playoff game against Montenegro for qualification in the European championships were allayed by his representative, the company Sport Invest, which said they expect he will be in Prague for a pre-game meeting on Monday. Čech collided with a teammate accidentally in the ninth minute of the game; after a long examination he played out the rest of the match.
The Czech women’s tennis team has defeated Russia to win the Fed Cup for the first time in 23 years. The advantage in the world group final went back and forth over the weekend, with Petra Kvitová putting the Czechs ahead in the first game on both days at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow. Lucie Šafářova lost the second match on both Saturday and Sunday, however, allowing the tournament to be decided by a doubles match between Czechs Květa Peschkeová and Lucie Hradecká and Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina representing the home team. The final score was 6:4, 6:2.
Opposition parties in the Chamber of Deputies are continuing in the fifth day of a filibuster intended to block the passage of government reform bills. On Friday the parliamentarians remained in session until after midnight and began an extra-ordinary weekend session on Saturday morning. The coalition is expected to approve the possibility of another late-night session. The effort to obstruct a vote on fifteen reform bills, which were returned to the lower house by the opposition-controlled Senate, began on Tuesday morning. A vote on next year's budget proposal was allowed on Wednesday in order to avoid a provisional budget for next year.
The opposition says that parliamentary lawyers are contesting the restrictions on speaking format imposed by the coalition during the filibuster. Deputy Social Democrat chairman Lubomír Zaorálek says that the Legislative Committee of Parliament, which interprets the rules of procedure in the house, found that the coalition’s rules on speaking times and the merging of debates defies common practice and could be grounds for a review by the Constitutional Court. The coalition parties however are standing by their interpretation of the rules, by which the number of speakers is determined per subject rather than subject point.
Police are investigating a ten-million-crown public order awarded by the Defence Ministry that they believe was assigned illegally. The daily Právo writes that Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra approved an auditing commission for the consultation firm KPMG last summer without a public tender and without publication of the fact – an option legally allowed only under extreme circumstances. According to documents that the newspaper claims to possess, the ministry acted on the commission in spite of warnings from its lawyers that the deal would be in contravention of the law. By law, all public commissions worth more than two million crowns must be arranged through a public tender.