Daily news summary
Andrej Babiš’s new government has been sworn in
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’ new minority government was sworn in at Prague Castle on Wednesday. The cabinet will now have a maximum 30 days to find backing in a confidence vote in the Chamber of Deputies.
The new minority government is made up of 14 ministers, four of them women, and the prime minister himself. Five ministers in the new cabinet held previous ministerial posts in the former government led by the Social Democrats and some, like Justice Minister Robert Pelikán and Transport Minister Dan Ťok, are keeping the same jobs.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Prime Minister along with ministerial nominees laid a wreath at the tomb of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk at Lány.
Newsweek: US ambassador to Prague was involved in Watergate-linked violence
Newsweek has reported that the recently appointed American ambassador to Prague, Stephen B. King, was allegedly involved in violence in connection with the Watergate affair in the early 1970s. The magazine wrote on Tuesday that Mr. King, a former FBI agent, was working as a security aide for the committee to re-elect Richard Nixon as president when he allegedly slapped and restrained Martha Mitchell, the wife of Nixon’s campaign director, whom he was tasked with monitoring.
Mr. King told Newsweek this week that he would not respond to the old story with respect to the privacy of the Mitchell family and in light of responses he made to the allegations in past decades.
The allegations did not come up in Mr. King’s confirmation hearing before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August of this year, Newsweek said.
Lower house committee to investigate OKD sell-off
The circumstances surrounding the privatisation of the OKD mining company are to be examined by a new lower house investigative committee established by the Czech Pirate Party. The nine-member committee is set to be filled and elect a chairperson on Friday. Its results should be presented to MPs in the latter part of 2018.
The previous Chamber of Deputies refused to set up a committee to look at the sell-off of OKD, which critics say was massively undervalued. However, it did pass a resolution saying that the privatisation had not been advantageous to the state in economic or social terms.
A court expert who prepared an evaluation of the value of OKD and two former managers of the National Property Fund are currently on trial in connection with the sell-off of the state’s minority stake in the company.
Outgoing prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka of the Social Democrats, who has been criticised for his role in the privatisation, is due to appear as a witness.
Prague to host meeting of European anti-migrant parties
Leaders of the anti-EU Europe of Nations and Freedom bloc are set to meet in Prague at the end of the week. The leader of the anti-migrant and anti-Islam Freedom and Direct Democracy Party, Tomio Okamura, is set to meet with Geert Wilders, head of the Dutch Freedom Party and Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's National Front.
Several civic initiatives are planning to hold protests against the meeting. Along with Le Pen and Wilders, the meeting will be also attended by representatives of the Austrian Freedom Party and other European anti-migrant parties.
Over 30 percent of bridges in Central Bohemia are in poor shape
Over 30 percent of bridges in the Central Bohemian region are in a poor state and 11 percent are in dangerous condition, Jaroslava Pokorná Hermanová, governor of the Central Bohemian region, told journalists on Wednesday.
Only 10 percent out of the total 1,844 bridges in the Central Bohemian region are in excellent condition, according to the results of an annual monitoring of the state of bridges in the country.
Concern regarding the state of the country’s bridges was sparked after the collapse of a footbridge across the Vltava River on December 2, which left four people injured. Experts are still assessing what caused the bridge, which stood between Prague’s Troja with Císařský Island, to collapse.
Škoda Auto records best monthly results in November
Czech car maker Škoda Auto recorded its best monthly results ever in November. The company sold 114,600 cars in November, which is an increase by 17.5 percent on the previous year, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.
Škoda Auto saw significant growth in its markets in Europe, India and China, driven mainly by sales of its larger model cars and SUVs. Škoda Octavia remains the company’s best-selling model with 41,000 cars delivered to the market in November.
Thursday is expected to be overcast with occasional rain showers and daytime highs ranging between three and seven degrees Celsius.