A former TOP 09 MP Stanislav Polčák released a proposal for a constitutional amendment to the Mladá fronta Dnes daily on Friday, which limits the powers of the Czech president. The proposal, among other points, limits the number of attempts the president has to form a new government in case of a successful no-confidence vote, and stipulates that the president’s appointments of central bankers will need to be approved by the Senate. The proposal was already unofficially discussed by parliamentarians over the summer. The Social Democrats might support the amendment, while the Civic Democrats said that they are open to a discussion on the issue, but do not want to make constitutional changes part of their election campaign.
A deputy health minister, Petr Nosek, will be leaving his post, according to a report in the Lidové noviny daily on Saturday. The announcement of the deputy’s departure comes after a crisis committee of hospitals, unions and patients sent an open letter to the Health Ministry on Tuesday asking for Mr. Nosek and his colleague Martin Plíšek to be dismissed from their posts, since they were responsible for drafting an ordinance on hospital fees, which is allegedly causing considerable financial problems for hospitals. Mr. Nosek is also expected to leave his position as the head of the board of directors of the biggest public health insurance company VZP. Health Minister Martin Holcát told Lidové noviny that Mr. Nosek is leaving based on an amicable agreement.
President Zeman’s advisory team met on Saturday at the Lany chateau to discuss the situation surrounding the plans of the OKD mining company to closed down the Paskov mine in the Moravian-Silesian region. Although a full list of participants has not been released, it is known that Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok and the president of the Confederation of Industry were present. Although Prime Minister Rusnok rejected the possibility of providing financial subsidies to OKD in order to keep the mine open for longer, he did say on Friday that he is planning to hold talks with the company’s shareholders next week in order to find a way to continue operations until 2016. Currently, the mine, which employs around 3,000 people is set to close by the end of 2014.
A US court in Alexandria, Virginia has given the defence team of Kevin Dahlgren another 30 days to appeal his extradition to the Czech Republic. Last week, the court ruled that all the requirements for extradition have been met. Originally, the suspect had the chance to appeal until this past Thursday, but the judge decided to extend the deadline. Mr. Dahlgren is suspected of killing his cousin and three other members of her family in Brno. The murders occurred this past May when the suspect was in the Czech Republic, after which he travelled to Vienna and then to the US, where he was arrested by FBI agents upon arrival at the airport in Washington DC.
Only some 50 people participated in a nationalist protest in the Moravian town of Přerov, even though the local police force expected as many as 300 extremists. Expecting a bigger march through the town, the local police force had asked for reinforcements, including helicopter and mounted units. The nationalist organization Czech Lions originally applied to hold a march through the town with at around 100 participants, but the in the end the march was called off. An even organized to counter the march was attended by around 100 people, most of whom were the local Romany residents.
Former Prime Minister Petr Nečas married his girlfriend and former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová on Saturday, Czech news servers reported. A number of corruption cases involving Ms. Nagyová, became the reason for the Mr. Nečas’ resignation and the fall of his government in June. Ms. Nagyová was arrested by the anti-corruption police and accused of ordering unauthorized spying by the military intelligence service of Mr. Nečas’s former wife Radka as well as being involved in the trading of lucrative positions in exchange for supporting the government with three MPs at the end of last year.
A multi-venue event entitled Different City Experience, which was the brainchild of the activist group Auto*Mat, is taking place in over 30 locations around Prague on Saturday. Local residents, businesses and associations organized block parties, concerts, film screenings and other activities throughout the day. Auto*Mat, which is heading the event for the eighth time, wants to show what the streets of the Czech capital could look like if there was no car traffic. Similar events, although in single locations, are also taking place this year in the cities of Olomouc and Ostrava.
A two-day showcase of military planes began on Saturday at the Mošnov airport near the north Moravian city of Ostrava. The joint celebration of Days of NATO and Days of the Czech Air Force features presentations of various aircrafts and presentations by the military, police and rescue units from 16 countries. The Czech and Slovak air force will also commemorate 20 years since the separation of Czechoslovakia and the founding of the two independent nation armies. Last year around 208,000 people visited the Days of NATO celebration, according to the organizers.
Representatives of unions, industry and the government met on Friday for three-way talks on the proposal for next year’s budget. Union and industry representatives said that the finance ministry’s draft budget was not conducive enough to economic growth and that the caretaker government should not be so strict in complying with the EU-mandated deficit ceiling of three percent of the GDP. After the talks, Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok announced that the government will not change the 112-billion crown deficit proposed in the draft budget, which is just below three percent of GDP. The outgoing government will be voting on the final proposal next Wednesday, though it will not be discussed by the lower house of parliament until after the general elections in late October. The budget proposal may be significantly altered by the new government and lower house.
President Miloš Zeman public approval rating is at 53 percent, according to a poll released by the STEM agency. This is an increase of three percentage points from a poll carried out in March, before the inauguration. Around 56 percent think that Mr. Zeman is a better president than his predecessor Václav Klaus. At the same time, the STEM poll revealed that 52 percent of the respondents think that he is too involved in the country’s politics.
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