The deputies club of ANO, one of the parties in negotiations on the new government, officially approved a coalition deal with the Social and Christian Democrats on Monday. The club also formally approved party leader Andrej Babiš to negotiate posts in the new cabinet. According to the head of the party’s deputies club, Jaroslav Faltýnek, the party chairman was not ‘bound’ to negotiate on concrete ministries, a reference to tactics taken by the Christian Democrats who are trying to secure the Agriculture Ministry for one of their candidates. Among ministerial posts in the government, ANO are expected to run the Finance Ministry.
President Miloš Zeman says he bears the greatest responsibility for the failure of his Citizens’ Rights Party-Zemanites in October’s general elections, when the grouping took just 1.51 percent of the vote. Speaking on TV Nova, Mr. Zeman said if there had been a marked difference between results in different regions the blame would have attached to individual local leaders; as this was not the case, the failure was due to a common reason: himself.
Eight competitors, out of roughly 500 at in international Taekwondo tournament in Pelhřimov, had to be treated in hospital for injuries suffered. None of the injuries were serious, news website iDnes reports, although one youth briefly lost consciousness. Taekwondo is a full-contact martial art, meaning kicks to the head are permitted. The organiser said injuries were not uncommon in the sport and that all participants wore helmets and protective padding. He pointed out that the aim was to score points – not to hurt opponents.
Monday saw competitors drawn for the next stage of football’s Champions
League as well as the second-tier Europa League next spring. No Czech team
made the final 16 stage in the Champions League, but two high-profile
players – midfielder Tomáš Rosický (Arsenal) and star goalie Petr
Čech (Chelsea) – will see action. Arsenal will face Bayern Munich (the
same as last season) and Chelsea, Turkish club Galatasary.
In the Europa League, Slovan Liberec face the Dutch club Alkmaar, while Viktoria Plzeň face a tough opponent in Shaktar Donetsk.
The chairman of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, could present President Miloš Zeman with a concrete plan for the division of ministries in the government he is forming with ANO and the Christian Democrats at a meeting planned for Thursday. Speaking on a TV debate show on Sunday, the Social Democrats deputy chair Milan Chovanec said the proposal could include the names of ministerial candidates. Mr. Chovanec said Mr. Sobotka should get authorisation from the president to form a government before Christmas. Following the presentation of a coalition deal last week, the three parties are due to hold negotiations on the division of portfolios in the coming days.
The leadership of the smallest party in the nascent government, the Christian Democrats, have approved the coalition deal with the Social Democrats and ANO. However, disquiet remains in the party over the number and type of ministries it will receive. The Social Democrats have offered Christian Democrats two seats, which the latter’s leaders say is too few. Chairman Pavel Bělobrádek, who has just returned from an overseas trip, said on Sunday that the party would insist on being given control of the ministry of agriculture.
A former Czech minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg, took part in a demonstration in support of Ukraine’s pro-Western opposition on Kiev’s Independence Square on Saturday. Mr. Schwarzenberg, who currently chairs the Czech lower house’s foreign affairs committee, was quoted by a local news website as saying the demonstrators were showing the entire world their desire to forge closer ties with the European Union. Protests began in Ukraine after the government of President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of a trade deal with the EU last month, apparently under pressure from Russia. On Sunday the Czech EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said the bloc was suspending talks with Kiev on the agreement.
Martin Červíček says he never promised Interior Minister Martin Pecina that he would stand down as police president if his predecessor Petr Lessy was reinstated, a situation that came about at the start of this month when a case against Mr. Lessy was thrown out by a court. Mr. Pecina insists Mr. Červíček made such a pledge. The latter said on a TV debate show on Sunday that if he was forced to resign he would resume his former position of deputy police president. Meanwhile, President Miloš Zeman said in a radio interview that a selection process should be held to decide which of the two men stays in the post, adding that he regarded Mr. Červíček as the legitimate police chief.
President Miloš Zeman says Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok, Finance Minister Jan Fischer and Defence Minister Vlastimil Picek have learned that it doesn’t pay to whisper in the Chamber of Deputies, after a conversation among the three was picked up on microphones. Mr. Rusnok was left particularly embarrassed after using vulgar language in making clear he did not wish to attend a memorial service for Nelson Mandela. Mr. Zeman said in a radio interview on Sunday that he would have gone to South Africa to honour the country’s late president if he were not suffering from an injury to his leg.
The Czech police’s internal affairs agency is carrying out an intensive investigation of the deaths of a police officer, 27, and his mother, 46, in the garage of their home in the village of Žerůtky in South Moravia on Saturday afternoon. Local people have told reporters that the policeman collected old munitions and that a grenade may have been the cause of the fatal explosion that killed the two. The police are refusing to release details and have neither confirmed nor denied this theory.