News Monday, JUNE 29th, 1998

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Radio Prague E news Written / Read by: Pauline Newman Date: 29.7.98

Hello and a very warm welcome to radio Prague. I'm Pauline Newman and we start with a look at the news headlines:

Those were the headlines, now a look at the news in more detail:

Havel / Talks

Czech President Vaclav Havel is set to meet Leader of the Freedom Union Jan Ruml and Head of the Christian Democrats Josef Lux in the latest round of negotiations.

Havel was asked to call the meetings by Milos Zeman, leader of the Social Democrats who is trying to put together a government.

However, the chances of the Social Democrats, the CSSD party, forming a ruling coalition appeared thin at the end of last week, after the Freedom Union repeated its aversion to supporting such a government.

Milos Zeman, has said he could well imagine the Freedom Union tolerating a CSSD led minority cabinet and that he believes the Union would let his cabinet survive a vote of confidence in Parliament. He added that he remains in favour of a coalition comprising his party, the Union and Josef Lux's centrist Christian Democrats.

Freedom Union leaders, however, have been quick to reject any form of cooperation with the Social Democrats. Parliamentary faction leader Vladimir Mlynar has told journalists that the Union will neither enter into a coalition with the Social Democrats, nor lend support to such a government.

Chairman of the Freedom Union Jan Ruml, also confirmed on Saturday that Milos Zeman even proposed Josef Lux, leader of the Christian Democrats as head of the next government in return for the Union's support. Jan Ruml added that part of the proposal included current Premier Josef Tosovsky becoming the next Finance Minister. The Freedom Union leader ruled this out, adding moreover, that Tosovsky had refused the offer.

FU / ODS

In the latest coalition negotiations, the centre right Freedom Union has expressed a preference for a cabinet which would include Vaclav Klaus's ODS and the Christian democrats.

The only condition attached is that the ODS does not hold a majority. Union leader Jan Ruml told journalists on Saturday that no party would hold a majority in this government, making it fair all round.

In the meantime, the ODS has made it clear that it does not appreciate the Freedom Union outlining the terms of its ideal government.

Deputy Chairman of the party Miroslav Macek, said on Sunday, he was disappointed that someone was already laying out conditions and terms before official negotiations had begun.

The Civic Democratic Party gained ten percent more votes in the elections, than both the Union and the Christian Democrats put together.

Gross / Zeman

Stanislav Gross Chairman of the Social Democrats Deputies' Club dismissed suggestions on Sunday that party leader Milos Zeman should resign.

Zeman promised before the elections that he would quit his position at the head of the party if he did not manage to form a new cabinet. Gross added that it struck him as rather strange that a leader whose party came first in the elections should resign. He added that he gives Milos Zeman a forty percent chance of being able to form a new government.

Fiala / Opinion

Czech political expert Petr Fiala said on Sunday that the only logical way forward in Czech politics would be to create a centre right government.

Fiala was speaking on Czech television, where he was taking part in a live debate with Trade Union leader Richard Falbr, political writer Pavel Tigrid and economist Jan Svejnar.

Fiala explained his views saying that the programmes of the Freedom Union and Vaclav Klaus's ODS party had plenty in common. He added that the Christian Democrats, which would make up the third party in the coalition are a centre right party, which would complement the other two.

Fiala also said that eight weeks is not such a long time to form a cabinet, and the others agreed with him.

Trade Union chief Richard Falbr, however, expressed his fears that if a cabinet is not formed in time, there could be new elections which might see the extremist Republicans making it to Parliament.

Havel / Lany

For the first time since the general elections last week, President Havel has talked about the current situation in the Czech Republic.

In an interview for Czech Radio on Saturday, Mr Havel said he saw no reason as to why there could not be several attempts to set up a cabinet and hold more than one confidence vote in Parliament.

The President also expressed his relief that the far right Republican party did not make it to Parliament, although he said the election resulted in a political stalemate.

He added that he hoped the coalition negotiations would take place in a dignified and cultivated manner. "This is a test for our young democracy" said the President, adding "possibly the hardest since the fall of communism".

Conference / Family

Lawyers from twenty countries have been meeting in Prague for a three day conference on family law in Post-communist countries, which ends on Monday. One of the main themes has been streamlining Czech family law with that of the European Union and discussions on how key issues such as divorce and parental care has changed since 1989. The conference has been taking place under the auspices of the European Information Centre.

Shakespeare / Festival

Finally, only the frequent rainy spells we've been having lately have been able to interrupt the last minute dress rehearsals of the Summer Shakespeare festival at Prague castle. The season kicks off on Monday, with several performances of Macbeth and over the next few months the largest courtyard outside the castle will ring with the sounds of Twelfth night and Hamlet.

Look at the weather:

Monday will see a continuation of the rather muggy weather we've been having over the last few days. Although temperatures will remain high, peaking at about 24 degrees celsius, skies will be often cloudy and overcast with showers during the day. It will be warm during the night, with temperatures ranging from 9 - 13 degrees celsius.

And that's the end of the news.