News

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Government line-up to be finalized on Tuesday

The line-up of the proposed centre-right coalition government involving the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Greens is to be finalized later today at a meeting of the Christian Democratic Party's executive leadership. One of the party's candidates for a ministerial post rejected the offer at the eleventh hour necessitating a last minute shake-up in one or two posts.

President and PM discuss government over luncheon

The proposed centre-right government was high on the agenda of a New Years' luncheon between Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday. The president expressed reservations both with regard to its line up and the fact that the prime minister has not secured majority support for it in the lower house. Despite his critical stand, the president is bound by the constitution to appoint whatever government the prime minister proposes. The prime minister will then have thirty days in which to ask the lower house for a vote of confidence. The Czech Republic has been without a stable government since the last general elections ended in stalemate last June.

Government talks divide Civic Democratic Party

The Civic Democratic Party is divided over the proposed government. In recent days the prime minister has come under fire from his own party members for allegedly making too many concessions to the Christian Democrats and the Greens. On Saturday the prime minister slammed one of his leading critics - the party's deputy chairman and mayor of Prague Pavel Bem, saying that his stand stemmed from economic rather than political interests. In Saturday's edition of the Czech daily Lidove Noviny, Mr. Topolanek suggested that Mr. Bem's past cooperation with the Social Democrats in the City Hall involved some dubious agreements and that he was now pushing for a similar model on the national level. The remarks have provoked outrage at Prague City Hall and Mr. Bem has demanded a public apology.

The Civic Democratic Party's deputies group is to meet on Wednesday to discuss the conditions of the government deal. The party's leadership will be asked to explain why it failed to lay claim to key cabinet posts such as the finance and foreign ministries.

Civic Democratic Party senators call for unity

Senators for the Civic Democratic Party on Tuesday expressed support for the three-party coalition government and called for party unity. Chairman of the Senate Premysl Sobotka said that the Civic Democrats must now present a united front in order to implement the party's policy programme and maintain a high level of public support.

State budget posts higher than expected deficit

The 2006 state budget posted a 97. 3 billion crown deficit in public spending, which is over 13 billion crowns higher than expected, the Finance Ministry said on Tuesday. Parliament originally approved a deficit of 74.4 billion crowns, but the figure was later revised to 83.7 billion. The ministry said lower tax and social insurance revenues were to blame. The target was also exceeded as a result of lawmakers transferring cash to regional government coffers from funds earmarked for mandatory government spending.

The Czech government no longer counts on adopting the European single currency by the original target date of 2010 but has not set any new deadline. In order to adopt the euro, governments must meet strict EU targets for public debt, deficits and inflation.

Almost half of Czechs for Olympics in Prague, suggests poll

Some 49 percent of Czechs are in favour of the Olympic Games being held in Prague, suggests a new poll released by the STEM agency. The Czech capital is set to decide this year whether to bid to host the Olympics in 2016 or - if that bid fails - in 2020. The Prague city authority is due to set up a special committee to examine the issue.

Over 200 gay couples enter registered partnerships

There are now more than 200 registered homosexual partnerships in the Czech Republic, a daily newspaper reported on Tuesday. A new law allowing gay and lesbian couples similar rights to married couples came into effect on July 1. Jiri Hromada of the Gay Initiative said they had expected much less interest in registered partnerships.

150,000 tourists celebrate New Year's in Prague

Around 150,000 thousand foreign tourists visited Prague for the New Year's holiday, according to the head of the Association of Czech Travel Agencies Tomio Okamura. He said another 120,000 visitors had celebrated New Year's elsewhere in the Czech Republic.

Weather

The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with daytime highs reaching 6 degrees Celsius.