The Christian Democrats were the biggest winners in the second round of
elections to one third of the seats in the Czech Senate, with candidates
with their backing taking nine mandates. The party took five of seven
Senate places in Moravia, its traditional power base.
The leaders of the government coalition, the Social Democrats, did poorly, with only two wins. Well-known Social Democrats such as Zdeněk Škromach and Jan Mládek were defeated, with the latter announcing after Saturday afternoon’s vote count that he would tender his resignation as minister for industry and trade. ANO, the other party in the coalition, took three seats.
The Social Democrats remain the biggest grouping in the Senate while the three government parties together have a constitutional majority (three-fifths of mandates) in the upper house.
The Civic Democrats and the Mayors group took three seats each in the second round of voting on Friday and Saturday, while TOP 09 and the North Bohemians party secured two apiece. The Communist Party did not win any seats.
Turnout was 15.4 percent, the lowest rate since the establishment of the Senate two decades ago.
The Visegrad Four group is fulfilling its mission within the European Union and has proved effective on the issue of refugee quotas, says the Czech president, Miloš Zeman. Speaking on Saturday at the close of a meeting of V4 heads of state in the Polish city of Rzeszów, Mr. Zeman said other EU members were taking the group’s position on board and there was now barely any talk of a quota system agreed last year. The four countries have expressed opposition to the scheme, under which set numbers of refugees are allocated to EU members.
The Czech migration police detained 4,146 illegal migrants in the first nine months of this year, 3,055 fewer than in the same period in 2015, according to figures released by the force. Ukrainians were the nationality caught without the relevant papers most frequently, accounting for 1,155 cases. Numbers of Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis detained in the first nine months of 2016 were way down on the same period in 2015.
Police in Australia have seized 1.2 tonnes of the drug MDMA valued at AUD 145 million that is believed to have originated in the Czech Republic, the Reuters news agency reported. Two Polish men in their late 20s were arrested in connection with the seizure, which is the fourth biggest in the state’s history. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a large international syndicate was believed to be behind the consignment.
The Railway Infrastructure Administration is to launch courses for employees aimed at teaching them how to resist corruption, iDne.cz reported. The agency – which has one of the biggest budgets among state institutions – is to spend CZK 2.1 million on the courses, which begin next month and will involve up to 700 staff members, the news site said. Officials say the body does not have a particular problem with corruption and that the courses fulfill demands set by an amendment to the law on companies’ criminal liability and come in response to new legislation on public tenders.
A large concert event paying tribute to Václav Havel will take place at Prague’s Lucerna Palace on Saturday night, 10 days after what would have been the late playwright and president’s 80th birthday. Eighty figures from public life and the arts world are set to appear on four stages at Lucerna, which was built by Havel’s grandfather and hosted a similar event on the evening of his funeral in 2011. The event begins with the launch of an exhibition entitled Hey, it’s Havel! comprising amateur photos of him taken by members of the public.
The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says he wants the Czech government and the country’s members of the European Parliament to coordinate a “national position” on the UK’s exit from the EU. Speaking after a meeting with Czech MEPs in Prague on Friday, he said a key point in negotiations with the London government would be the protection of Czech workers on the UK labour market. Mr. Sobotka said he expected talks on the UK’s departure from the EU to be complicated and take a very long time.
The Czech government will next Thursday sign an investment contract with the US company General Electric relating to a plant to develop, test and produce turboprop aircraft engines, the Czech News Agency reported on Friday. The investment was previously reported at CZK 9.5 billion. The deal will make the Czech Republic one of only five countries around the globe where aircraft engines are designed and manufactured.
Firefighters were called out to deal with an oil spill on the Vltava River in Prague on Friday, iDnes.cz reported. The oil “stain”, which was around 50 metres in length, occurred between the Charles Bridge and Mánes Bridge in the centre of the city. It was likely caused by the escape of motor oil from a plastic bottle, a spokesperson for the fire service said. A temporary ban was imposed on boats on the river while the problem was being addressed.