News

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Deputies agree to postpone unified state school-leaving exam

The lower house of Parliament has decided to postpone the introduction of a state school-leaving exam. Under current law, each secondary school writes its own school-leaving test, known in the Czech Republic as the "maturita". This has come under much criticism as some tests are harder than others and some universities consider the test results as part of their entrance exams.

A new unified state exam was to be introduced in the 2007/2008 school year but deputies agreed to postpone this date as preparations have been slow. If the deputies' decision is approved by the Senate and signed by the President, the state "maturita" will not be introduced for another two years.

CSOB sues Czech state for 1.7 billion at arbitration court

The CSOB bank has filed a complaint against the Czech Republic at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris. The bank is suing the Czech state for 1.7 billion crowns (close to 80 million USD), the paper Mlada fronta Dnes writes. According to CSOB, the state owes it that much in transactions that were made in connection with the bank's takeover of another bank - IPB - seven years ago. Neither CSOB nor the Finance Ministry have made further comments to the lawsuit.

Agriculture ministry to look into farmers' cooperatives property returns

Agriculture minister Petr Gandalovic has prepared a special bill that ascertains whether former members of farmers' cooperatives have actually got their former property back under the de-nationalisation process which followed the fall of communism. Hospodarske Noviny reports that the private companies from which the cooperatives were formed would be held responsible for any failed returns. Mr Gandalovic tells the paper that tens of thousands of people who had rights to property in the privatisation process have issued complaints. The property in question is worth billions of crowns, he adds. The agriculture minister plans to put his bill forward at a government session in the near future.

Lower house rejects Senate proposal limiting parliamentary immunity

Deputies, on Tuesday, rejected a Senate proposal that significantly limits the parliamentary immunity of legislators. Under the proposal, deputies and senators would only enjoy parliamentary immunity when they make speeches and vote in parliament. The lower house returned the proposal in its first reading, saying it is too radical and needs to be reappraised.

President Klaus celebrates 66th birthday

Czech President Vaclav Klaus is celebrating his birthday. Mr Klaus, who turned 66, invited friends and politicians to Prague Castle for a private party on Tuesday evening. A watch and a painting featuring the Senate building are among the numerous presents that Mr Klaus received.

Deputies approve amendment to road communications law

The lower house of Parliament has approved an amendment to the road communication law reducing selected penalties for motorists. Under the amendment, among other things, motorists and cyclists who are injured in an accident caused by themselves would no longer be faced with a fine. The amendment has yet to be approved by the Senate and signed by the President.

Authorities may not be able to cope with last-minute drivers' license applications

Over one million holders of drivers' licenses that expire at the end of this year have yet to get them renewed, the Transport Ministry announced on Tuesday. According to Czech law, all licenses issued between July 1, 1964, and the end of 1993 need to be replaced with new European Union licenses. In order to meet the deadline, an average 39,000 licences would have to be replaced every week. The ministry now fears that the offices in charge of renewals will be overwhelmed by large numbers of last-minute applications and will not be able to cope.

Number of homosexual registered partnerships reaches 346

A total of 346 homosexual couples, 126 in Prague, have entered into registered partnerships since a Czech law made them legal last year. The youngest registered couple is 18 years old; the oldest over the age of 80. In the one year that the law on same-sex registered partnerships has been in effect, three couples have already annulled their "marriage" and three more are waiting for their "divorce" to come through.

The law on registered partnerships allows gays and lesbians to enquire about their partner's state of health, inherit their partner's property, and refuse to testify against their partner in a court of law. They are allowed to raise children but not adopt them.

Study: people between 25-35 years biggest buyers of real estate

Results of a new study suggest that the Czech Republic's real estate is mostly acquired by people between the ages of 25-35 years. The study conducted by RE/MAX, using information gathered at some 600 real estate agencies, shows that people also tend to buy more apartments - especially two-bedroom apartments - than land and buildings. The boom in construction that Prague has been experiencing in the last few years has now also reached the Moravian cities of Brno and Ostrava.

Poll: ruling coalition would have four more seats today

A new opinion poll suggests that the ruling coalition, which is currently struggling with a weak 100 of the 200 seats in the lower house of Parliament, would gain four more seats if elections were held tomorrow. In the poll, conducted by the STEM agency this month, the Civic Democrats would win 74 seats, the Greens 21 seats, and the Christian Democrats nine seats.

The opposition Social Democrats would be allocated 67 seats and the Communists 29. The poll indicates that the Civic Democrats' popularity is on a slight rise, while that of the opposition Social Democrats is on a slight decline - widening the popularity gap between the two largest parties from one to two percent.

Weather

It is set to remain rather overcast with the chance of storms in the coming days. Temperatures will reach up to 33 degrees Celsius. Forecasters say it will get considerably cooler at the end of the week.