News Monday, DECEMBER 06th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.

Civic Democrats re-elect leaders

The country's strongest political party, the Civic Democratic Party, has re-elected Vaclav Klaus as party chairman at its congress on Sunday. Vaclav Klaus received more than eighty percent of the vote, which he sees as a strong mandate to continue in the same political style. The congress also re-elected three of the party's four vice- chairmen to their posts.

Klaus said that the party will aim to strengthen relations with the other right-of-centre political parties but he stressed that should these efforts fail, the Civic Democratic Party must be ready to opt for broader cooperation with the ruling Social Democrats.

The congress refused to terminate the so-called opposition agreement which enables the existence of the minority Social Democratic cabinet and gave the new leadership a mandate to lead talks on a super-grand coalition of all the non- communist parties represented in Parliament.

Communists re-elect chairman, plan to re-introduce socialism

The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia has re-elected Miroslav Grebenicek as party chairman. Grebenicek was elected chairman of the Communist Party for the third consecutive term. Under his leadership, the party has become the second strongest in the country, while some opinion polls suggest that it might even win the next elections.

The Communists approved new policy documents which state that it is necessary to revise the privatisation process and push for a mixed-economy, combining both private ownership and state control over strategic branches of industry.

Party leader Miroslav Grebenicek also reiterated that the main aim of the party is to restore socialism in the Czech Republic.

EU officials reject Austria's enlargement demands

The EU commissioner for enlargement, Ghnter Verheugen, has criticised Austria's stance towards accepting new members from Central and Eastern Europe. The Finnish premier Paavo Lipponen, whose country currently presides over the EU, has also condemned Austria's demands for the candidate countries to close down their nuclear power stations as a condition for accession. The two officials have been quoted by the weekend edition of the Austrian daily Die Presse. Lipponen pointed out that it is not possible to make the candidate countries adopt an energy policy of one member while all the members have their own standards. Verheugen also rejected Austria's calls for the longest transition periods possible, when the free movement of labour from the new member states would be limited.

Four candidates for the post of health minister

There are four serious candidates for the post of health minister. The current minister, Ivan David, whose professional skills have been questioned from the very beginning, intends to resign this week. Labour and Social Affairs minister Vladimir Spidla will be in charge of the health ministry until a new minister is appointed. But he expects this period to last for just a few weeks.

If David's resignation is accepted, he will be the third minister to leave the Social Democratic cabinet which was installed in 1998.

Cabinet to discuss electronic signature

At its session on Monday, the cabinet is to discuss a bill on electronic signatures. It is designed to make electronic business and the utilisation of on-line services easier. The new law will establish an Information Authentication body which will provide certificates of authenticity of electronic documents.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. We are expecting a mostly cloudy day with scattered snow showers, afternoon highs should range from 2 degrees Celsius below zero to 2 above. The next two days should be warmer but also cloudy with rain showers, with highest daytime temperatures between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.