News of Radio Prague

Spidla asked to form new government

Czech President Vaclav Havel officially asked the leader of the Social Democrats Vladimir Spidla on Monday to form a new government. Mr Spidla, whose party won the parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic with more than 30% of the vote, is preparing for talks with potential coalition partners and has said that he would be meeting with leaders of the centre-right Coalition, a grouping of the centrist Christian Democrats and the liberal Freedom Union, on Tuesday evening. Since Mr. Spidla has ruled out a coalition with both the Civic Democrats and the Communists, a minority government with the support of one or more parliamentary parties would have to be another option if talks with the Coalition should fail. Communist Party representative Vojtech Filip has said that his party would support a minority government only if it sticks to what it promised in its pre-election manifesto.

Coalition not against deal with Social Democrats

In the meantime, Coalition representatives said on Monday that they are prepared for talks with Mr Spidla. Christian Democrat Deputy Chairman Milan Simonovsky said that the coalition parties would give a united and clear stand during the meeting on Tuesday, without setting conditions. A governing coalition between the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union is seen as the most likely arrangement, although it would command only a slim one-vote majority in Parliament with 101 out of the 200 seats. Although the Coalition is aware that the Social Democrats were the clear winners in the elections, Mr Simonovsky added, the Coalition had its own manifesto and would therefore not give in to anything.

Klaus accepts full responsibility for party show down

During a meeting of the centre right ODS or Civic Democratic Party's executive council on Monday, party leader Vaclav Klaus said he took full responsibility for the low number of votes his party received in the elections. According to the CTK news agency, the 60 year-old former economics professor also offered to let someone else take his post. However, he and the rest of the party leadership refused to hand in their resignations, reasoning that they intended to wait until the results of an ODS election campaign analysis is finished. Deputy Chairman Petr Necas said that if Mr Klaus resigns, the entire party leadership would have to resign, as all held responsibility for the ODS campaign.

Pre-election bets

Those who put their money on a Social Democrat victory in Czech betting agencies have made a fortune as most bets went in favour of the Civic Democratic Party. The biggest winner is believed to be a man from the Moravian town of Havirov na Karvinsku who bet 100.000 Czech crowns on the Social Democrats and will now be taking home a quarter of a million crowns or 7.700 U.S. dollars.

EU accession treaty to be signed next March

The European Union should be able to sign an accession treaty with up to ten candidate states next March, allowing them to become full members by January 2004 and participate in the next elections for the European Parliament, scheduled for June of the same year. This according to a document drawn up by the holder of the EU's rotating presidency Spain. The document, to be presented to European heads of state and government at a summit in Seville later this week, hardens the EU's existing timetable for enlargement. The Czech Republic is expected to be among the 10 countries hoping to join the EU in 2004 along with Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta.

Indonesian President arrives in Prague

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri arrived in Prague on Monday for a three-day official visit to the Czech Republic. Mrs Sukarnoputri met with other Indonesian nationals and entrepreneurs and is expected to visit Czech President Havel at Prague Castle on Tuesday as well as meet with other Czech senior politicians to discuss Czech-Indonesian political and business relations.


And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Monday night is expected to have clear skies and temperatures between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius. Tuesday will have clear to partially clear skies and temperatures will range from 28 to 33 degrees Celsius.