The Prague branch of the junior coalition party Public Affairs has called
on party leader Radek John to resign. They blame him for the party’s low
credibility and argue that the party leadership needs new blood in order to
regain public trust. Mr. John is perceived as a puppet of Vit Bárta, the
head of the party’s deputies club, who financed the party’s
establishment and masterminded its success in the last general elections.
Mr. Bárta, who formerly owned the biggest security agency in the country,
has been accused of infiltrating business into politics. He is now being
tried for corruption.
The party’s Prague branch also voiced support for the party’s three ministers who defied an order from the broad party leadership to resign, saying that to do so would have been a big mistake.
The state attorney in the highly publicized trial of Public Affairs deputy Vít Bárta has proposed a suspended sentence for the politician for trying to buy the loyalty of two former party members with large sums of money. She also proposed a suspended sentence for Jaroslav Škárka, who took the money and failed to report the bribe for some time. Attorney Vrbová said she was proposing suspended sentences in view of the fact that both politicians previously had a clean criminal record. The verdicts in the case are expected to be announced next Friday.
The opposition Social Democrats are against the idea of scrapping the ministries of culture and environment, now being discussed by the coalition within broader cost-cutting measures. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said scrapping the environment ministry was particularly unacceptable in view of the urgent need to address serious air pollution problems in Moravia and Silesia. The junior coalition party Public Affairs which has linked its continued support for the government to a series of far-reaching demands, has proposed reducing the number of ministries as a partial alternative to cuts in the social sphere. The Civic Democrats and Public Affairs are now allegedly considering scrapping the ministries of culture, environment and local government. A decision is expected on Tuesday.
Culture Minister Alena Hanakova has also spoken out against the idea of scrapping ministries, saying that scrapping the ministry of culture would not save a significant amount of money and could result in the neglect of many priceless cultural monuments. Minister Hantakova also pointed out that scrapping the culture ministry could further complicate the restitution of church property. She said the ministry would seek ways to further reduce its expenses.
Former education minister Josef Dobeš who resigned from his post late last month citing “budget cuts” and was promptly employed as an advisor to his successor has been forced out after a spate of criticism from the media and opposition parties. Mr. Dobeš who came under fire for mismanagement of EU funds and a botched university reform was reportedly helping his successor complete some of his projects. The ministry is now being temporarily run by his former deputy Ladislav Neměc. Public Affairs, which holds the education portfolio is still searching for a suitable successor.
A Czech soldier who was injured in Afghanistan this week has been flown to the Czech Republic for treatment. The twenty-eight-year-old soldier serving in the Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Logar province, sustained light injuries on Wednesday in an anti-tank grenade attack. He suffered a leg fracture and lighter injuries to his arm. Some 600 Czech troops now serve in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s ISAF mission; five Czech soldiers have been killed since the start of the operation.
Inflation reached 3.9 percent in March up from 3.7 in February, the Czech Statistical Office said on Friday. The rise is fueled primarily by the soaring price of eggs on the Czech market. Egg prices went up by 67 percent in March. According to analyst Petr Dufek this is the first time that a single product has directly impacted inflation. Other contributing factors are the price of petrol and cigarettes.
A public opinion survey has indicated growing support for left-wing parties on the Czech political scene. A poll conducted by Factum Invenio suggests that if elections were held today the opposition Social Democrats would win 26.9 percent of the votes, and the Communists would get 14.9 percent. The centre-right Civic Democrats would get 17.2 percent and their coalition partner TOP 09 would get 13.1. The only other party which stands a chance of crossing the 5 percent margin needed for seats in the lower house are the Christian Democrats, now on the margin of Czech politics, who would get 6 percent.
Traffic police will be out in force for the long Easter weekend which traditionally increases road mortality figures. A police spokeswoman said several hundred officers would be put on duty along the country’s main roads and highways with the road safety-operation focusing primarily on drink-driving and speeding. Eighteen people died on Czech roads over the Easter weekend last year.
The Prague Transport authority has announced that due to maintenance work a section of the C-line of the Prague metro will be out of operation between Friday night and Tuesday morning. The metro will not run between the stations Muzeum and Pražské Povstání. A replacement bus service will be available for passengers.