The Office of the Senate has said the proposed slash of funds for the operation and maintenance of the upper chamber in 2013 is excessive and wants to try to negotiate what it calls a more realistic figure. Senate Chancellor Jiri Uklein told the CTK news agency on Monday that under the finance ministry’s proposal for next year the Senate would be short of approximately half the money annually needed for maintenance and operational costs. This year the Senate received just over 525 million crowns from state coffers, the plan for next year is that it should get just over 447 million. The chancellor says the institution needs another 64 million to meet its basic needs.
The Czech Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the man arrested at the airport of the Nepalese capital Kathmandu on Friday night for drug possession is a Czech citizen. The man’s nationality was unclear after the Himalayan Times described him as a Czechoslovak citizen. He was reportedly smuggling some 3.5 kilos of marijuana hidden in a secret compartment in his luggage to Prague. According to The Himalayan Times, police are investigating the source of the drug and searching for possible ties to international drug cartels.
A frosty Easter Monday broke temperature records in many parts of the country. Monitoring stations recorded a record night low of minus 22 degrees Celsius in Jizerka in the north of the country, with temperatures in the Sumava mountains in southern Bohemia and in the Moravian Highlands also dropping to minus 20 degrees. A monitoring station in the town of Opava recorded minus 8,2 degrees Celsius, the lowest measured on that day since 1888. Decades-old records were broken in many parts of the country, with snow reported in the lower altitudes.
A baby girl was left in a baby box in a Jihlava hospital early on Easter Monday. The newborn was placed in an incubator and is reported to be doing well. She has been provisionally named Mary Easter and the authorities are waiting to see if her parents do not turn up to reclaim her before putting in motion the process of her adoption. Mary is the 71st child to be placed in what is now a network of baby boxes around the country. The institution still has its critics who claim that baby boxes make it too easy to abandon a child, but its defendants point out that it has saved the lives of many babies who might otherwise be abandoned out in the cold.
Senior officials from the junior coalition member Public Affairs are preparing for a round of negotiations with the two other government parties, the Civic Democrats and TOP 09, to take place on Tuesday. The party’s deputy leader, Dagmar Navrátilová, told the Czech News Agency ČTK on Sunday that the party was hoping a compromise within the coalition would be reached. Should the three coalition partners fail to reach an agreement, early elections will be held. Earlies this week, Public Affairs had threatened it would quit the coalition unless certain demands were met.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has said, in an interview that was published in the weekend edition of the daily Mladá fronta dnes, that his party, the Civic Democrats, had been preparing for possible snap elections for weeks. Mr Nečas explained that the senior government coalition party started putting together an election campaign two weeks ago, for fear that spats over austerity measures would force the government to resign. In addition, he said, the trial of Public Affairs deputy Vít Bárta, the de-facto leader of the junior coalition partner, was a factor in the party’s decision to prepare for possible early elections. The prime minister said that the Civic Democrats were concerned that in the case of an acquittal, Mr Bárta would put the government under pressure in an effort to return to the cabinet. The verdict in the highly publicized corruption trial will be delivered next Friday.
Deputy leader of the government coalition’s TOP 09 party, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, has said that his party would consider forming a coalition with the Social Democrats in the case of early elections. He added that he would not welcome working together with the current opposition party, but would prefer it if junior coalition partner Public Affairs quit the coalition. The party was pushing through its agenda in a way that damaged the government, he said. However, the TOP 09 leader added that the coalition needed the junior partner’s deputies’ votes to push through reforms that will work to improve the country’s prosperity and prevent it from sliding into a financial crisis.
In related news, the Social Democrats leader Bohuslav Sobotka said that his party would not consider forming a coalition with either the TOP 09 party or the Civic Democrats in the case of snap elections. He added that should the Social Democrats win the next elections, they would choose political allies that would support his party in its effort to rework the poorly conceived reforms of Prime Minister Petr Nečas’s government.
Hundreds of Catholics on Sunday poured into the Czech capital’s St. Vitus Cathedral, where Cardinal Dominik Duka was celebrating the country’s main Easter mass. The cardinal highlighted the important role Easter played in the Christian faith and blessed all attendees, as well as believers around the world. Some tourists had also come to attend the two-hour mass. Additional Easter masses were held in several other churches in Prague as well as across the country.