Social Democrats vote no to coalition participation

The leadership of the Social Democrats has voted not to take part in a "rainbow" coalition which would lead to early general elections. The party's stance represents a rejection of a plan put forward by President Vaclav Klaus as a way out of the deadlock which has gripped Czech politics since inconclusive elections in June.

The Social Democrats, who came second in the elections, have also reiterated their demand to be given a chance to form a new government, after the failure of the winning Civic Democrats to put together a viable government.

The leaders of the five parties in the lower house are due to meet Mr Klaus on Tuesday. The president has indicated that if they cannot agree on a solution before then, he will choose a new prime minister himself.

Czech Republic, Germany team up to block tax rise on beer

The finance ministers of the Czech Republic and Germany have announced they will join forces to block a European Commission plan to raise minimum duties on beer. Czech Finance Minister Vlastimil Tlusty said Prague would veto the rise, which needs to be approved by all 25 EU members. He said he and his German counterpart, Peer Steinbruck, would express their joint standpoint at a meeting in Brussels next week.

The Czechs are the world's biggest beer drinkers, consuming nearly 160 litres per person per year. The Germans are the third biggest consumers.

Assailants torture Vietnamese shop keeper with electric shock stun gun

A search is on for three men who are alleged to have tortured a Vietnamese shop owner with an electric shock stun gun in Jindrichov, north Moravia on Thursday. The man was also shot by the three, who broke into his shop at around 1 am. The police said they were examining possible motives for the attack and have not ruled out the possibility it was racially motivated.

Sparta fans cause 20-minute metro delay

Fans of Sparta Prague ice hockey club caused a metro train to short circuit on Friday evening, when they threw a metal stick onto the line at Hlavni nadrazi station, the website iDnes reported. Services on the C line were interrupted for 20 minutes.

Survey finds Prague Metro line C busiest by far

Meanwhile, a survey carried out by Prague's transport authority found the C line was the busiest line, with 48 percent of passengers using it, Lidove noviny reported. Thirty percent said they mainly travelled on line B and 22 on line A. Passengers criticised the long intervals on line B and at night and said the system lacked clocks on carriages and sufficient dustbins in stations.

Bank manager charged with stealing from own bank

Police have charged the Dutch manager of a bank in Touzim, west Bohemia with stealing 35 million CZK (1.6 m USD) from his own bank, Pravo reported. The paper said the banker had enjoyed spending the money - he apparently lives in the former Prague flat of inter-war finance minister Alois Rasin, surrounded by rare antiques.

Defending champion Berdych knocked out in Paris Masters quarter finals

The Czech men's tennis number one Tomas Berdych has been beaten in the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters. The twenty-one-year old - who won the competition last year - lost 6-4 1-6 6-2 to Dominik Hrbaty of Slovakia.

Bear reaches 37, could be oldest in world, says circus boss

A bear in the Czech circus Berousek has celebrated its 37th birthday. Circus boss Jiri Berousek junior said it was the oldest bear in captivity and could even be the oldest in the world. The bear, a female called Rocky, retired from regular performance two years ago.


It should be wet and grey over the next couple of days, though it will get warmer, with temperatures rising to around 10 degrees Celsius at the start of next week.