Daily news summary
Czechs starting voting for president in two day poll
Czechs have started voting in the second round of the presidential elections pitting current head of state Miloš Zeman against challenger Jiří Drahoš.
Polling booths opened at 2 PM in the afternoon and were due to close at 10 pm. The voting restarts on Saturday from 8 AM to 2 PM. The count will take place immediately with the full results promised in the later afternoon.
In the first round, 61.9 percent of eligible voters took part. Zeman won 38.6 percent of the vote with Drahoš getting 26.6 percent. Around 5.15 million votes were cast of the possible 8.4 million in the first round two weeks ago.
Five years earlier in the previous presidential vote, the second round participation was slightly down on the first round .
Czech PM cold shoulders regional bank proposal
Outgoing Czech prime minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš has opposed the idea of a regional development bank covering the Visegrad four countries, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Ahead of a meeting of the Central European grouping on Friday in Budapest, Babiš said the main task of the Czech government was to deal with Czech banks.
Hungary and Poland have been the main backers of a regional development bank on the grounds that European Union funds for such a purpose are likely to dry up in the future. The Budapest meeting was also scheduled to discuss migration policy ahead of an EU meeting in Brussels next month.
Around 2.6 million watch final Czech presidential duel
An estimated 2.6 million people watched the final televised presidential debate between current head of state Miloš Zeman and challenger Jiří Drahoš on public broadcaster Czech Television on Thursday night.
Many commentators reckoned honours were fairly even between the two in a much more subdued setting than the rowdy atmosphere on commercial broadcaster Prima two days earlier.
Questions focused on Zeman’s presidential team and advisors, foreign relations, campaign backers, and the candidates’ stand over outgoing prime minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš, who is facing criminal charges.
Czech crime rate drops in 2017, murders rise
The overall crime rate dropped in the Czech Republic in 2017 by around 7.3 percent compared with 2016 with around 202,000 criminal acts investigated, police said on Friday.
Crime dropped in 12 out of the country’s 14 regions with the two exceptions being the Plzeň and Karlovy Vary regions.
The drop in overall crime is for the fourth year in a row. The clear up rate came in at 53.3 percent. On the other hand, the number of murders increased by 10 to 146.
Czech Republic on verge of flu epidemic
The Czech Republic is on the verge of a flu epidemic, according to the State Health Institute.
It said that there were 1,224 cases of flu per 100,000 people. That’s an advance of around 10 percent of cases on the previous week. The ratio of cases still falls just short of that needed for a flu epidemic to be declared.
Nagano gold Olympic ice hockey squad to get together on anniversary
Most of the members of the winning Czech Olympic ice hockey team from Nagano will get together in Prague on February 5 to mark the 20th anniversary of their victory.
The reunion has been arranged to mark what is seen as a key moment not just in sporting but also national history, according to the national ice hockey association which is organising the event.
Seventeen of the 23-strong squad which won gold have promised to take part as well most of the back-up team. One notable exception will by Jaromír Jágr, still playing for the Calgary Flames.
Ester Ledecká wins snowboard World Cup event at Bansko
Czech snowboarder Ester Ledecká has won her fourth World Cup event in the giant parallel competition this season.
She triumphed in the final of the event in Bansko, Bulgaria, against Germany’s Selina Jőrg.
The win confirm’s Ledecká’s current form and the fact that she has been tipped as one of the Czechs’ biggest medal hopes at the upcoming Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.
Saturday will be cloudy with some sunny intervals in the south of the country. Top daytime temperatures will range between 4 and 7 degrees Celsius.