The right-of-centre TOP 09 group has come in first in a mock election held at more than 430 Czech secondary schools on Wednesday and Thursday, three weeks before polls open for a real general election. TOP 09, which was part of the previous coalition government, received 17.8 percent of the mock vote, followed by the Pirate Party and ANO, a group founded by Czech multibillionaire Andrej Babiš. More than 50,000 secondary school students aged 15 and over took part in the voting, organized by the human rights NGO People in Need to popularize elections with first-time voters.
In his new book, former Czech president Václav Klaus calls for the Czech Republic to leave the European Union. In the book entitled “Decision Time” which is to be published next week, Mr Klaus argues that the EU deepened various negative features of the Czech society, politics and economy by overregulation, disregard for the sovereignty of national governments, and diminishing their responsibility. In an interview for the daily Mladá fronta Dnes on Thursday, Mr Klaus also called for a fundamental change in people’s thinking, similar to that which occurred after the fall of communism. Mr Klaus, whose second term as president expired in February, now heads his own Prague-based institute.
In related news, Czech politicians have rejected Václav Klaus’ call for the country to withdraw from the EU. President Miloš Zeman said the EU was beneficial for the Czech Republic, and that the country’s membership was also beneficial for the EU. Mr Klaus’ views were also dismissed by the Social Democrats, the Civic Democrats, and other parties.
New legislation introduced last year to curb corruption in public procurement has failed, suggests a new survey by the consultancy firm Otidea released on Thursday. 95 percent of companies which took part in the poll said they still encountered public procurement projects tailored to suit a particular bidder; meanwhile, around 70 percent of public officials said tenders were not more transparent than they were before the legislation came into force. The poll also suggests that one in six officials admitted to having accepted undervalued bids which have become a new strategy for companies to win public contracts.
The Czech Republic is set to receive around 412 million crowns from the European Union’s Solidarity Fund to deal with damage caused by June’s massive flooding, Commissioner for Regional Policy Johannes Hahn said on Thursday. The funding is yet to be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states. Along with Austria and Germany, the Czech Republic filed for aid in the wake of floods that hit Central Europe in June. In the Czech Republic, 15 people died in the flooding which inflicted damages of 16.4 billion crowns.
A memorial plaque to the former Czechoslovak and Czech president Václav Havel has been unveiled at the Georgetown University campus in Washington D.C. The plaque is situated next to a monument, created by the architect Bořek Šípek, and comprises of two wooden chairs under a linden tree. The former dissident and playwright’s second wife Dagmar Havlová, as well as some of his friends like the priest Tomáš Halík and former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright were present at the unveiling ceremony on Wednesday.
A court in Prague on Thursday rejected a request by former Central Bohemian governor David Rath to be released from custody. Mr Rath, a former prominent member of the Social Democrats, was arrested in May 2012 on corruption charges; he faces accusations of manipulating public contracts awarded by the region. Another defendant in the case, the former director of a central Bohemian hospital Kateřina Pancová, was released from custody last week. The trial against Mr Rath and 10 other people started in August, and is expected to conclude in the coming months.
A court in Brno on Thursday rejected an appeal by Mercedes Dietrichstein who demanded the return of her former family property confiscated after WWII on the basis of the so-called Beneš decrees. Ms Dietrichstein sued several public institutions which now own the property including the chateau in Mikulov but a court in Břeclav rejected the lawsuit three years ago. For several centuries, the Dietrichsteins were one of the most significant aristocratic families in Moravia. Their property was confiscated after the Second World War as Ms Dietrichstein’s father was a member of the pro-Nazi Sudetendeutsche Partei. In a separate lawsuit against the town of Mikulov, Mercedes Dietrichstein has asked for the return of her family crypt and other property located in the town. A court in Břeclav is scheduled to hear the case in November.
The municipal library in the central Bohemian village of Milín has been named the Library of the Year by the Czech Culture Ministry. At a ceremony in Prague on Thursday, the jury praised the library’s outreach and its role in the life of the community. In the village with 2,100 inhabitants, the library last year registered over 11,000 visits. The prize for significant IT improvement was awarded to the library in Litvínov, in northern Bohemia. The library in Hradec Králové was named the best city library of 2013.
The Josef Jungmann prize for the best translation into Czech was awarded to Anežka Charvátová for her translation of Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666 from Spanish. The Josef Jungmann prize has been given out annually since 1991 on the day of Saint Jerome, who is the patron saint of translators. At this year’s ceremony, Věra Koubová, who is best known for translations of Franz Kafka and Friedrich Nietzsche, was inducted into the hall of fame.
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