The Civic Democratic party, which leads the current ruling coalition, will gather this weekend in the Moravian regional capital Brno for the closely watched party conference. Party members will vote for its leadership and will determine whether Prime Minister Petr Necas will keep his position as the chairman. The other important topic on the agenda is the position of the Civic Democrats in the lower house of parliament, where they have lost the ability to effectively pass proposed legislation due to growing opposition and rebelling MPs from their own party. Petr Tluchoř, one of the rebel MPs, has made it clear that even if Mr Nečas is reelected, he and his five colleagues will not change their negative stance on the current proposal of the tax reforms, which the lower house will vote on next week.
As the head of the Civic Democratic Party Petr Nečas prepares for this weekend’s party conference, news is coming in from different regional chapters about whether they will re-elect the Prime Minister as the party chairman. The Civic Democrats in Ústí nad Labem voted late on Thursday to support Mr Nečas’s nomination. Early on Friday, the Prague chapter of the party also gave the Prime Minister its support, as was expected. In the surrounding Central Bohemian region, though, Mr Nečas was not as successful, missing out on the regional backing by one vote. Although, ten out of fourteen regional chapters now back the nomination, this does not necessarily assure the current chairman’s success this weekend. In an interview published in Friday’s Hospodářské noviny daily, Mr Nečas said that there is no strong enough leader in the party who could unseat him.
In the same interview for Hospodářské noviny, the Prime Minister commented on the scandal over the French company Areva getting excluded from a ČEZ tender, saying that the Czech energy provider was left without a choice given that Areva underestimated the price of their bid and refused to follow some rules pertaining to public tenders. Mr Nečas said that Areva, for example, refused to committed to the final price of their bid, which is against regulations. Yet, he also added that just as the ČEZ managers he was disappointed that Areva is no longer in the running, because they would have preferred a three-bid competition. The two parties still competing for the tender to expand the Temelín power plant are an American-Japanese company Westinghouse and a Czecho-Russian consortium MIR.1200.
Bohuslav Sobotka, the chairman of the opposition Social Democrats, has called on financial institution on Friday not to offer products that would comply with the second pillar of the pension reform system, which has not been approved yet by the lower house of parliament. Mr Sobotka advised banks and pension fund providers to put off offering partly private pension funds, that the government wants to introduce with the reform, until the next parliamentary elections. If the Social Democrats win a strong enough majority in the next elections, they are prepared to revoke the so-called second pillar of the planned pension reform. Even before Mr Sobotka’s announcement, the Czech branch of ING Commercial Banking as well as AXA had announced that they will not offer the new type of pension savings scheme. The remaining seven retirement plan providers are mostly likely counting on introducing the new type of financial product, if the lower house passes the bill.
František Nachtigall, the editor-in-chief of the Czech weekly newsmagazine Týden and a member of the board of Empresa Media publishing company has said that MP Radek John will have no influence over the magazine or a sister publication, Instinkt. Earlier, Mr John - a former investigative journalist who headed an influential current affairs programme on TV Nova in the 1990s, caused a furor on the Czech political scene when announced he would be taking over as head of current affairs at Empresa while retaining his post as an MP. The announcement drew sharp response across the political spectrum. The news website Mediář.cz has since reported that Mr John will only be employed as a consultant on a new current affairs show on TV Barrandov similar to the programme he worked on years earlier. TV Barrandov is owned in part by Empresa Media, which holds a majority stake.
The police in the Czech Republic and in Germany’s free state of Saxony will join forces next year to battle cross-border criminal activity. Czech Interior Minister Jan Kubice and his Saxon counterpart Markus Ulbig have agreed to begin preparing plans for a joint police unit that would begin operations in March of next year. The main goal for the unit would be to fight against drug sales and trafficking across the Czech-German border, especially in the case of Methamphedamine, as well as car theft. A similar unit called Nisa already exists on the Saxon-Polish border.
In the first nine months of this year, 165 more patients with the HIV virus were registered in the Czech Republic. During the whole of 2011, there were only 153 new HIV patients in the country. Miroslav Hlavatý, from the Czech AIDS Help Society, warned that this most likely means that this year the Czech Republic will cross the 200 mark in terms of new HIV-positive patients, which has never happened since these statistics began to be gathered in 1985. Ten years ago, the number of people who tested positive for HIV was 50, during the whole year. So far the highest number of new cases was registered in 2010, when it reached 180. Since 1985, 186 people died of AIDS in the Czech Republic.
The Prague Na zábradlí theatre will unveil a memorial plaque to the late former Czech Presiden Václav Havel, who was also a frequent collaborator. In the 1960’s Mr Havel worked in the theatre, as a member of the stage crew, actor, head of the drama department and playwright. The bronze plaque, which should be unveiled on December 18, was created based on the design by the “bad boy” of the Czech art scene David Černý. Mr Černý told the press that it is a classic memorial plaque and that it will be funny, but respectable. The theatre has been trying to gather the necessary funds to produce the plaque.
Czech tennis player Lucie Šafařová will be the first from the national squad to take to the court at the weekend in the Fed Cup final against Serbia, being played in the Czech capital. She faces Ana Ivanovič in their singles match at the O2 arena on Saturday. The second match of the day will pit Petra Kvitová against Jelena Jankovič, the draw on Friday determined. The Czechs are the Fed Cup defending champions but could face difficulties; the 22-year-old Kvitová, a Wimbledon champion and the Czech team’s strongest asset, has been fighting an infection which could impact her game.