Daily news summary

Faltýnek: ANO could form majority government before second confidence vote

ANO could form a majority government ahead of a second vote of confidence in the Chamber of Deputies, the party’s Jaroslav Faltýnek said on Czech Television on Sunday. ANO concede that their minority one-party government will not win an initial vote of confidence scheduled for Wednesday.

At present ANO only have the backing of their own 78 deputies in the 200-seat lower house. The Communist Party, with 15 seats, will decide on their position on Tuesday.

Mr. Faltýnek said that it might happen that ANO would be able to form a majority cabinet ahead of a second confidence vote. He said the party would begin talks with other parties immediately after Wednesday’s ballot.

ANO leader Andrej Babiš has said he would prefer a minority government even in the case of a second vote.

Presidential candidates preparing for final week of campaigning

The nine candidates in the running for the post of Czech president are preparing for their final week of campaigning before the first round of voting next Friday and Saturday. Much of their time will be given over to various debates, as well as handing out flyers and meeting citizens, the candidates and their teams told the Czech News Agency.

One of the favourites, academic Jiří Drahoš, said he would highlight in debates the absence of a candidate who had refused to take part in any such forums. This is a reference to the incumbent, Miloš Zeman, who representatives say is not leading a campaign.

However, Mr. Zeman will be visible to voters this week. He is taking part as president in a ceremony at Prague Castle marking the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia and on Wednesday will be at the lower house when the ANO minority government seeks a vote of confidence.

Majority of state culture organisations planning centenary events

Most Czech state arts institutions are this year preparing events and projects commemorating the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia, the Czech News Agency reported on Sunday. The government has earmarked CZK 322 million for a special programme that will also mark other significant anniversaries this year.

The greatest portion of that funding is going to the Ministry of Culture while the biggest single event will be a joint Czech-Slovak exhibition marking the 100th anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. After a stint in Bratislava the show will move to the Czech National Museum, which by then will have reopened after major renovations.

Around 170 events are marking the centenary, the 50th anniversary of the Soviet-led invasion of 1968 and the foundation of the independent Czech Republic in 1993.

Social Democrat branches weighing up candidates for chairman

District and regional branches of the Social Democrats have begun holding congresses to decide on their candidate for chairman of the party, Czech Television reported. The Social Democrats, who headed the last government but came sixth in elections in October, will choose a new leader at a congress in February.

A representative of the Pardubice party organisation said it had discussed names such as Jiří Zimola and Jan Hamáček. Mr. Zimola is part of a group critical of the party leadership, who said on Friday they would not field a candidate.

Current deputy chairman Hamáček did not rule out running but said he would depend on the view of his local organisation in Mladá Boleslav, which is meeting on Monday.

Town uses technology to honour WWI dead

The town of Vyškov near Brno has announced plans for a memorial to residents who died in World War I in connection with the 100th anniversary of the end of the conflict, iDnes.cz reported. The monument will be unique in that visitors with smartphones will be able to read about the 150 people honoured by using QR codes, the news site said.

The CZK 1.3 million, two-metre high memorial will take the form of a statue of a woman embracing the empty coat of her partner.

Mild weather set to continue

The Czech Republic should continue to experience mild weather for the time of year for at least two more weeks, according to the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute. Daytime temperatures are expected to be at 0 degrees Celsius or above until the end of January, when freezing weather is forecast to begin.

Saturday saw record high temperatures set in a number of places, with Karviná in the Moravian Silesian Region recording 13.2 degrees Celsius.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast and rainy in the Czech Republic on Monday, with daytime highs of up to 5 degrees Celsius. The wet weather is expected to continue through much of the week.