Czech MPs approved the basic parameters of next year’s state budget in
the first reading on Tuesday afternoon. Some 116 deputies from the outgoing
three-party coalition and from Freedom and Direct Democracy raised their
hands for outline figures such as revenues and expenditures as well as a
CZK 50 billion deficit.
Deputies can now propose changes within the budget, though the basic framework will remain the same. The final approval of next year’s budget is expected after December 19.
President Miloš Zeman on Tuesday formally accepted the resignation of the
government of Bohuslav Sobotka, which was tendered by the coalition of the
Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats last week. On Wednesday
afternoon the head of state is due to name ANO’s Andrej Babiš prime
minister. Next week Mr. Zeman will appoint a minority ANO government.
Since October’s elections, in which ANO took almost 30 percent of the vote, the outgoing government has limited its activities to urgent matters and European affairs. The Sobotka cabinet was one of only three since the foundation of the Czech Republic to see out its four-year term.
Influential businessman Roman Janoušek may avoid serving the remainder of
a prison term for hit and run after being ruled to be an invalid by the
Regional Court in Brno, Czech Radio reported on Tuesday. The court made a
decision to that effect last year on the basis of two expert medical
reports that said Mr. Janoušek’s state of health had deteriorated.
The Municipal Court in Prague was to decide on whether to release him from rest of his jail term but that judgement will now be made in Brno, Czech Radio said.
Mr. Janoušek was sentenced to four and a half years following a high profile hit and run incident in 2012. Wiretaps published in the Czech media gave the impression that he had held considerable influence over politicians in the capital.
Czechs around the country are set to mark the eve of St. Nicholas Day later
on Tuesday. People dress up as St. Nicholas (in Czech Mikuláš), an angel
and a devil and in trios take to the streets and visit children, notionally
rewarding them for being good with sweets and punishing them for bad
behaviour with coal or potatoes.
The St. Nicholas tradition, which is also celebrated in different form in other European countries, dates back to the Middle Ages.
The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei will present in person the Czech premiere of
his documentary Human Flow in Prague next week, the head of the Czech
National Gallery Jiří Fajt said on Tuesday. Mr. Fajt said that the
well-known, Berlin-based dissident would also be involved in two National
Gallery exhibitions in the New Year. The exhibition of his Law of the
Journey, a huge installation in the form of a refugee boat, will conclude
Ai Weiwei filmed Human Flow, which focuses on the migrant crisis, at around two dozen places around the world in a one-year period. The first Czech screening will take place at the Lucerna cinema on December 14.
The Communist Party’s deputies group has rejected a call from ANO to
replace their nominee for head of the commission that oversees the General
Inspectorate of the Security Services, Zdeněk Ondráček. ANO made the
call after presidential candidate Michal Horáček pointed out that the
Communist Party MP had taken part in a clampdown on demonstrators during
the 1989 Velvet Revolution as a member of a riot squad.
On Monday ANO’s second in command Jaroslav Faltýnek asked the Communists to come up with a different candidate for the post, which involves oversight of the police.
The Communist Party look set to help facilitate the establishment of a minority ANO government.
In the National Hockey League in Monday, forward Jakub Voráček helped his
team the Philadelphia Flyers snap a 10-game skid, picking up three assists
against the Calgary Flames. The Flyers won the game by a score of 5-2.
Neither Michael Frolík nor Jaromír Jágr were able to pick up points for
Elsewhere, David Pastrňák picked up a goal and David Krejčí an assist for the Boston Bruins but it wasn’t enough. The Bruins lost to Nashville 5-3.
Around 160 people took part in a demonstration at the Transgas building in
Prague, slated for demolition to make way for new apartments. Protestors
are laying blame for the planned demolition of the complex of buildings, an
example of Brutalist architecture, with outgoing Culture Minister Daniel
Herman. The Culture Ministry refused to name the building a cultural
Protestors called the decision for the building to be torn down “immoral”.
Monday’s demonstration was organized by Architektura 489, the Old Prague Club and others.
The country’s incoming prime minister, Andrej Babiš, has said he will
begin looking for support for his minority government beginning the week
before Christmas. Mr Babiš issued a statement at a press conference in
Prague following a meeting of ¨ the proposed cabinet in Prague. Currently,
it is unclear whether Babiš will find enough support. His ANO Party has a
more seats in the chamber than any other (78) but still falls short of the
minimum 101 needed for the slimmest of majorities.
The ANO leader said he would negotiate with the other parties in the lower house in the order they finished in the election in October, which means his first talks will be with the Civic Democrats.