News

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Topolanek meets with Klaus to discuss post-election solutions

The leader of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek has met with President Vaclav Klaus to discuss possible solutions to the political stalemate that has gripped the country since the national election in June ended with an equally divided parliament. On Friday Mr Topolanek - whose party won the election - asked Mr Klaus to officially allow him to form the next government. He has in mind a Civic Democratic minority government that would seek support from all parliamentary parties except the Communists but including closest election rivals the Social Democrats.

Mr Topolanek stressed that if politicians weren't able to agree on such a solution, another option would be early elections.

So far, the president has decided not to broaden Mr Topolanek's mandate, opting to wait for further negotiations between the two largest parties.

Friday's developments, in any case, appear to be a final departure from Mr Topolanek's earlier plan to form a government with two other parties - the Christian Democrats and the Greens, which lacked a governing majority. It was categorically rejected by political rivals.

Bursik calls for dissolution of three-party coalition

In related news, the Christian Democrats have made clear that while they preferred continued coalition cooperation with the Civic Democrats and the Greens to find a way out of the post-election stalemate, the Civic Democrats under Mirek Topolanek should be allowed to explore a number of ways out of the political crisis. The Christian Democrats' Miroslav Kalousek told reporters that his party "wanted to contribute to the quickest possible and most effective solution".

By comparison, following Mr Topolanek's meeting with the president, the Green Party's Martin Bursik at a press conference called on the other parties to now meet to officially dissolve their coalition. Mr Bursik said that following developments the project "no longer made sense", stressing that it was now important to negotiate terms for early elections.

Lower house sets date for next speaker vote

The lower house of parliament has set a new date for its next attempt to try and elect a new speaker: August 14th, in other words, in ten days. All candidates for the post will be nominated by August 11th. So far, the lower chamber has made five attempts to elect a chairman since a new parliament was elected, but without success. Following two months of deadlock, Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek launched new talks with outgoing Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek this week to try to negotiate a solution. Negotiations between the two are set to take place over the next two weeks.

Central bank: political stalemate leaves financial policy adrift

The central bank has warned that the Czech Republic faces growing uncertainty over its public finances amid a two-month deadlock over who will form its next government. Bank members highlighted "major uncertainty" over fiscal policy, in particular over public spending, in the minutes of a recent board meeting. The board said it was impossible to determine the direction of fiscal policy in the current circumstances. Elections on June 2-3 for the lower house of parliament resulted in an even split between centre-right and left-wing blocs, with each getting 100 votes in the 200-seat assembly.

The outgoing Social Democrat government, meanwhile, has proposed a budget that shows a deficit of 88 billion crowns (the equivalent of almost 4 billion US dollars) for 2007. The Civic Democrats' Vlastimil Tlusty said Friday in an interview fro the newspaper Pravo on Friday that the deficit was more likely to be around twice that level at 173 billion crowns. That, Mr Tlusty warned, would scuttle Czech plans to adopt the single European currency in 2010.

Police charge thirty in connection with smuggling of illegal waste

Thirty people have been charged with illegally importing municipal waste from neighbouring Germany, allegedly making illegal profits in the tens of millions of crowns. According to district state attorney Zdenka Bendova, four of the thirty were key figures, leasing a farm in Libceves, north Bohemia, where several thousand tonnes of municipal waste were secretly stored between September 2005 and March 2006, when it was discovered that the site housed hazardous material. Other illegal dumps were also uncovered. The accused claim to have only imported material for recycling. Two have been remanded in custody, and it is possible that still more individuals will be charged.

Welsch to leave NBA

Czech basketball player Jiri Welsch is leaving the NBA the player announced on Friday, after signing with Unicaja Malaga, champions in the Spanish league. The 27-year-old player, who last played with the Milwaukee Bucks in the US, has signed a three-year deal.

Weather

The forecast for the weekend suggests mostly rainy weather with daytime temperatures of around 20 degrees Celsius.