Daily news summary

PM ready to accept backseat in coalition talks

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who suffered a setback in his efforts to form a new government last week, has said he would respect it if someone else from his ANO party were commissioned with the task.

In an interview for the daily Lidové noviny, Mr. Babiš said that the decision was now in the hands of the president, but he trusted that Mr. Zeman would keep his word and give him until the end of June to try to form a new government.

The Social Democrats walked out of the talks on forming a minority government with ANO late last week due to a disagreement over a division of posts in the government and the fact that in Andrej Babiš the country would have a prime minister charged with EU subsidy fraud.

ANO, the Social Democrats and the Communists, who had negotiated to support the new government, have all requested to meet with the president.

Health data suggest smoking ban effective

The Prague-based Institute of Health Information and Data has released figures documenting a drop in the number of Czechs hospitalized with health problems linked to smoking as a result of the anti-smoking bill introduced in May of last year.

The comparative study covers the period between June and November of 2016 and 2017 when smoking in pubs and restaurants was strictly banned.

According to the data released there were 13.1 percent fewer heart attacks and 16 percent less patients hospitalized with heart problems over that period in 2017. There were 7,200 fewer people hospitalized altogether.

The lower house is due to start debating a proposal to soften the strict ban on smoking at its session on Tuesday.

Cremator director Juraj Herz dies at 83

The renowned horror director Juraj Herz died on Sunday at the age of 83, the Czech News Agency reported. The Slovak-born director, who moved to Prague in the late 1950s, was perhaps best-known for 1968’s The Cremator, a macabre, internationally acclaimed cult film based on a novel by Ladislav Fuchs.

Herz’s Petrol Lamps was entered in the Cannes film festival in 1972 and other important titles in his filmography include Morgiana and Ferat Vampire. His last movie was Habermann in 2010.

Czech foreign trade surplus drops

The Czech foreign trade surplus dropped in February year-on-year by 2.9 billion to 18 billion crowns, according to the Czech Statistics Office.

Exports dropped by 1.2 percent year-on-year and imports were down 0.2 percent.

The fall is attributed primarily to a drop in car exports and electronics. The German economy has followed a similar trend.

Thousands of volunteers support weekend clean-up project

Seventy-six thousand volunteers joined in the “Let’s Clean Up Czech Republic“ project at the weekend, collecting over 1,000 tons of garbage around the country.

The project has been hugely successful in mobilising volunteers from different age groups and backgrounds and helping to develop ecological and social responsibility.

The organizers say 65 local follow-up events have been organized in the coming weeks.

Plzeň lead cut to seven points after collapse at Bohemians

Viktoria Plzeň have seen their lead in Czech football’s top flight shrink after an embarrassing defeat to Bohemians 1905. The West Bohemians went down 5:2 to the Prague side in the capital on Sunday, a result that leaves them just seven points clear of second-placed Slavia Prague, who had earlier beaten Brno 1:0.

Plzeň had appeared to have the title sown up going into the winter break after opening up a large gap at the top. However, since then they have only one game in seven outings. There are seven rounds remaining.

Weather forecast

Tuesday should bring partly cloudy skies with scattered showers in the afternoon and evening and day temperatures between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.