Daily news summary

Babiš to persist with effort to form minority government if first vote fails

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš says that if he makes a second attempt to form a government it too will be a minority one featuring only his ANO party. In an interview in the newspaper Právo on Saturday, Mr. Babiš said that said a minority government was the best and most practical option and that he had found being in a coalition in the previous government a “horror”.

The ANO government are expected on Wednesday to lose a first attempt to win the vote of confidence they need in the Chamber of Deputies. President Miloš Zeman has already said he will then allow Mr. Babiš’s party another attempt to find backing in the lower house.

Babiš to not attend committee meeting related to fraud charges

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his ANO party colleague Jaroslav Faltýnek have asked to be excused from a meeting of the lower house’s immunity committee on Tuesday that will consider allowing the police to charge them with abuse of EU subsidies. The pair say they need more time to read a report by the European Anti-Fraud Office on the matter.

MPs previously voted to lift the ANO politicians’ immunity so they could stand trial for alleged misuse of EU subsidies amounting to CZK 50 million in connection to the Stork’s Nest complex. However they reacquired it when they were reelected in October. Both deny any wrongdoing.

The immunity committee can reach a decision on whether to recommend the lifting of the pair’s immunity even if they do not speak before it.

Bartoš retains post as Czech Pirate Party leader

Ivan Bartoš has been reelected chairman of the Czech Pirate Party at a congress in Brno. Mr. Bartoš, who is 37, stood unopposed for the position and received the votes of 276 out of 293 delegates.

Prior to Saturday’s vote the Pirates leader said the party would be a constructive opposition in the Chamber of Deputies and could play an active role in the formation of a coalition in the next electoral period.

The Czech Pirate Party are the third biggest grouping in the lower house after passing the five-percent threshold for entry for the first time in general elections in October.

Outgoing British ambassador auctions trademark 1960s Škoda for charity

The freshly departed UK ambassador to Prague, Jan Thompson, is auctioning off her classic Czech car for charity. The proceeds from the sale of her 1960s Škoda Embéčko (1000 MB), which was Prague’s only vintage car with diplomatic license plates, will go to the Czech branch of the UK-founded charity the Sue Ryder Home.

Jan Thompson was Great Britain’s representative in the Czech Republic for four and a half years. She will be replaced next week by Nick Archer.

Czech Republic set for flu epidemic this month

The Czech Republic is likely to be hit by a flu epidemic in the course of January, Novinky.cz reported. Experts say the epidemic could arrive in the middle of the month, the news site said.

Martina Havlíčková, the head of the National Reference Laboratory for Influenza, said the situation was currently calm but that this could change in a short period as children have now returned to schools, where such an epidemic can spread quickly, after the holidays.

Epidemiologist Rastislav Maďar from the medical faculty in Ostrava said it was still not too late to be inoculated against the flu. Last year around 15 percent of the Czech population contracted the illness.

Unprecedented number of Czechs competing in Dakar Rally

A record number of Czechs are taking part in this year’s edition of the Dakar Rally. The 40th edition of the famous 14-stage race begins in Lima, Peru on Saturday. Thirty-six Czech competitors have entered, including eight motorcyclists, four quad riders, three car crews and six truck crews.

The Czechs considered to have the best chance of doing well include car driver Martin Prokop, motorcyclist Ondřej Klymčiw and the truck team of Aleš Loprais, Martin Kolomý and Martin Macík Jr.

Weather forecast

It should be overcast and rainy in the Czech Republic on Sunday, with daytime highs of up to 6 degrees Celsius. The wet weather is set to continue through much of next week.