Daily news summary

Social Democrats launch election campaign to EP elections

The Social Democrats on Saturday launched their campaign to elections in the European Parliament. At a press briefing in Olomouc, party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said he would consider it a success if the Social Democrats defended their current seven seats in the assembly. The party will spend 25 million on campaigning and its candidates will appear at election rallies and debates around the country. Mr. Sobotka said it was important to generate greater public interest in the elections and bring as many voters to the ballots as possible. Elections to the European Parliament are scheduled to take place on May23-24.

Civic Democrats face more donor trouble

One of the Civic Democratic Party’s most generous private donors in 2013 was a 22-year-old hairdresser on maternity leave who has no private income, according to Saturday’s edition of Mladá fronta Dnes. The paper notes that the young woman who gave the Civic Democrats a gift of one million crowns does not even own the cottage where she has permanent residence. The young woman in question refused to comment and party deputy chair Martin Kupka said the party was not in a position to check out the private finances of its donors. Party leader Petr Fiala said he knew nothing about the affair since he was not party chairman at the time. The party has had problems in the past with contributions from non-existent or fake donors.

Olah Romanies elect new king

Representatives of the country’s Olah Romanies elected a new king in the town of Hradec Králové on Saturday. Their new monarch is to be fifty-two-year- old entrepreneur Robert Beneš from Brno. Although Benes was elected by Olah representatives from dozens of towns and cities, he may not be accepted by all Olah Romanies. For instance the Olah clan from Ostrava was notably absent from the vote. Elections of previous Olah kings have been known to stir controversy. In 2001 Jan Lipa was elected king of the Olahs, but a congregation of Olah Romanies in Brno refused to accept him and elected Jan Horvátko instead. Lipa died in 2012, Horvátko a year later.

Median poll suggests Social Democrats regaining strength

A poll conducted by the Median agency suggests that the Social Democrats would once again win general elections gaining 21 percent of the vote, trailed by ANO which would receive 19.5 percent. The Communist Party would come third with 15 percent support, followed by TOP 09 and the Civic Democrats with 11.5 and 8.5 percent respectively. The poll contradicts the findings of the CVVM, STEM and PPM factum agencies which in March all featured ANO as the strongest party on the Czech political scene today.

Prisoner on the run gets lucrative job and steals millions

A prisoner on the run was employed as chief economist by the National Museum of Agriculture from which he syphoned off ten million crowns before being detected, commercial TV Nova reported. The man who was serving a seven-year sentence for embezzlement escaped from the Hradec Králové jailhouse last summer and shortly after won an open competition for the position of chief economist at the Museum of Agriculture under a false identity. He syphoned off a third of the museum’s annual budget before being detected and once again managed to escape as police were arresting him.

Hepatitis cases on the rise

The number of hepatitis A cases in the Czech Republic is reported to be on the rise and the health authorities are recommending vaccination for vulnerable groups of the population. Doctors registered 49 cases of hepatitis A in March of this year, the second highest number in any single month in the past decade and more than a hundred percent increase compared to last March. Last year 348 people contracted the disease which is a 25 percent increase on 2012. There is an increased risk of contracting the virus in crowded public spaces such as public transport, shopping malls, post offices, or the cinema.

Davis Cup quarterfinals: Czechs secure victory against Japan

The Czech Republic wrapped up their Davis Cup quarter-final tie against Japan on Saturday easing to a straight sets victory in the doubles rubber to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in Tokyo. After battling to singles wins on Friday, Radek Štepánek and Lukáš Rosol paired up for a 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Tatsuma Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama at the Ariake Coliseum to set up a last four encounter against either Germany or France.