News of Radio Prague

Parliamentary elections early results

Early election results from the Czech Republic's two day parliamentary elections show a clear victory for the country's left wing parties. The ruling Social Democrats have won the elections with over 30 percent of the vote. This positions party leader Vladimir Spidla for the top government post. Shortly after the news broke Mr. Spidla shared his feelings with Radio Prague:

" It is a clear victory for the Social Democrats. The Social Democratic Party has established itself as a stable political force which is a permanent part of the Czech political scene and has a potential for the future. We are a strong party in our own right and people trust us."

The Social Democrats attracted voters by promising to build a dense web of social security and benefits. The party's main slogan was "We won't leave you in the cold".

The Social Democrats' main rival , the centre-right Civic Democratic party led by the former prime minister Vaclav Klaus, received over 24% of the votes and has openly admitted defeat. Mr. Klaus said he would consider his share of responsibility for the defeat and inform the public of his plans for the future after consulting with the party leadership.

In a surprise development the Communist party has placed third with more than 18 percent of the vote outstripping the Coalition, an alliance of two centre-right parties. According to early results the Coalition has received more than 14 percent of the votes. No other party has crossed the 5% threshold needed to win parliamentary seats.

Coalition talks ahead

In spite of their election victory the Social Democrats have not received enough votes to give them a majority in Parliament and analysts predict intense negotiations over the formation of a governing coalition. In his first reaction to the early results, Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla ruled out a governing coalition with either the Civic Democrats or the Communist Party saying that he would first talk to the centre-right Coalition. He has not ruled out a minority government with support from what he called "democratic parties in Parliament". Voter turnout in the two day Parliamentary elections is reported to have been just under 60%.

Low turnout among Czechs living abroad

For the first time ever, Czechs living abroad were also able to take part in the elections. Voting took place at Czech embassies and consulates, but the number of people who registered to vote abroad was much lower than expected. Of the estimated 70,000 eligible voters only around 2,000 registered. It is not yet clear how many of them actually cast their ballot.

President - elections

Meanwhile, President Vaclav Havel has refused to comment on the early results of the elections. He said his chief interest was in seeing a viable coalition set- up which would receive approval in the Lower House. Mr. Havel plans to meet with the leaders of the Social Democrats, Civic Democrats and the Coalition on Sunday to discuss their plans and priorities. He has refused to congratulate or meet with the Communists.

Commemoration in Lidice to mark 60th anniversary of Nazi massacre

Half the Czech government, as well as cultural figures and ambassadors from as far afield as Japan and Venezuela, attended a memorial ceremony and ecumenical mass on Saturday morning on the site of Lidice, the Czech village that the Nazis razed to the ground 60 years ago this week. On June 10th 1942, 173 men were shot and the women and children were transported to concentration camps. Of the children only seventeen survived. The only two

Lidice men to survive were airmen who were fighting at the time in Britain's Royal Air Force. The English widow of one of the two men, Wynne Horak, told Radio Prague of her feelings on attending the event.

"Very, very sad. I'm glad I came though, because I think about the father-in- law, the mother-in-law I never met and my husband's not here either, so it's sad, but it's nice to come. I'm glad I came."

The only shadow over the commemoration was the arrival of a group of members of the extreme-right Republican Party who tried to approach the mass grave of the men of Lidice with their party banner. In his speech the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman condemned their action, as he later told Radio Prague.

"I think it was a misuse of this ceremony and that's why I condemned that. They are so naive that they try to win some political capital, even if it might be counter-productive."

The memorial mass was followed by the ceremonial reopening of a rose-garden, laid in memory of the villagers of Lidice who died. The Culture Minister, Pavel Dostal, pointed out that a new gallery is also to be opened this year in the village.

Radio and TV Council to discuss crisis at NOVA TV

The supervisory board of Czech Radio and Television is to debate the situation at TV Nova, the country's biggest private television station following efforts to have its director Vladimir Zelezny removed from his post. Zelezny's former lawyer and right hand man Ales Rozehnal on Friday attempted to remove Zelezny from his post allegedly acting on behalf of two companies which own a 52% stake of CET 21, the company that holds TV Nova's broadcasting license. Rozehnal claims that CET 21 has financial problems and that Zelezny's presence is further damaging the company. Vladimir Zelezny himself has refused to step down from his post saying that the attempt to remove him was illegal. The Czech Radio and Television board is due to meet on June 27th to discuss the situation.


Finally, a quick look at the weather forecast: despite 30 degree temperatures here in Central Europe, skies are overcast and we can expect some heat storms in the late afternoon and scattered showers overnight. Sunday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with day temps between 22 and 26 degs C.