Daily news summary
Christian Democrats big winners in elections to one third of Senate seats
The Christian Democrats were the biggest winners in the second round of elections to one third of the seats in the Czech Senate, with candidates with their backing taking nine mandates. The party took five of seven Senate places in Moravia, its traditional power base.
The leaders of the government coalition, the Social Democrats, did poorly, with only two wins. Well-known Social Democrats such as Zdeněk Škromach and Jan Mládek were defeated, with the latter announcing after Saturday afternoon’s vote count that he would tender his resignation as minister for industry and trade. ANO, the other party in the coalition, took three seats.
The Social Democrats remain the biggest grouping in the Senate while the three government parties together have a constitutional majority (three-fifths of mandates) in the upper house.
The Civic Democrats and the Mayors group took three seats each in the second round of voting on Friday and Saturday, while TOP 09 and the North Bohemians party secured two apiece. The Communist Party did not win any seats.
Turnout was 15.4 percent, the lowest rate since the establishment of the Senate two decades ago.
Marked fall in illegal migrants detained in first nine months of year
The Czech migration police detained 4,146 illegal migrants in the first nine months of this year, 3,055 fewer than in the same period in 2015, according to figures released by the force. Ukrainians were the nationality caught without the relevant papers most frequently, accounting for 1,155 cases. Numbers of Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis detained in the first nine months of 2016 were way down on the same period in 2015.
Zeman: V4 effective on issue of refugee quotas within EU
The Visegrad Four group is fulfilling its mission within the European Union and has proved effective on the issue of refugee quotas, says the Czech president, Miloš Zeman. Speaking on Saturday at the close of a meeting of V4 heads of state in the Polish city of Rzeszów, Mr. Zeman said other EU members were taking the group’s position on board and there was now barely any talk of a quota system agreed last year. The four countries have expressed opposition to the scheme, under which set numbers of refugees are allocated to EU members.
Australian police seize large haul of MDMA “from Czech Republic”
Police in Australia have seized 1.2 tonnes of the drug MDMA valued at AUD 145 million that is believed to have originated in the Czech Republic, the Reuters news agency reported. Two Polish men in their late 20s were arrested in connection with the seizure, which is the fourth biggest in the state’s history. The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a large international syndicate was believed to be behind the consignment.
State agency to introduce anti-corruption training for staff
The Railway Infrastructure Administration is to launch courses for employees aimed at teaching them how to resist corruption, iDne.cz reported. The agency – which has one of the biggest budgets among state institutions – is to spend CZK 2.1 million on the courses, which begin next month and will involve up to 700 staff members, the news site said. Officials say the body does not have a particular problem with corruption and that the courses fulfill demands set by an amendment to the law on companies’ criminal liability and come in response to new legislation on public tenders.
Concert event at Prague’s Lucerna to pay tribute to Havel
A large concert event paying tribute to Václav Havel will take place at Prague’s Lucerna Palace on Saturday night, 10 days after what would have been the late playwright and president’s 80th birthday. Eighty figures from public life and the arts world are set to appear on four stages at Lucerna, which was built by Havel’s grandfather and hosted a similar event on the evening of his funeral in 2011. The event begins with the launch of an exhibition entitled Hey, it’s Havel! comprising amateur photos of him taken by members of the public.
There should be sunny spells in the Czech Republic on Sunday, with temperatures of around 14 degrees Celsius expected. Forecasters say Monday will also be bright though rain is likely for the rest of the week.