News of Radio Prague

Social Democrats postpone plans to hammer out agreement with Coalition

Leaders of the Social Democrats, who won the highest number of seats in the general election last weekend, have postponed plans to hammer out an agreement with their proposed junior partner, the Coalition party. In the wake of the election, leaders of the two parties had been scheduled to discuss and possibly sign a policy statement spelling out terms for a new, centre-left government that will likely lead the Czech Republic into the European Union. However, the chairman of the Social Democrats, Vladimir Spidla, who is likely to be the next prime minister, said on Friday that the eight-page policy document drafted by party deputies was "too legalistic" and needed more work. Mr Spidla said the first draft was basically sound, and that a final draft could be completed and discussed by the two sides early next week. In the parliamentary election, the Social Democrats and Coalition won a combined 101 seats in the 200-seat lower house. Their plans to form a ruling coalition have been endorsed by President Vaclav Havel.

Group of European intellectuals sign anti-nationalism appeal

A group of European intellectuals signed an appeal on Friday calling on political leaders to tone down nationalist rhetoric and stem the rise of the far right. The appeal, drawn up by the former Hungarian President, Arpad Goncz, and the chairman of the Czech Senate, Petr Pithart, includes the signatures of the German writer Guenter Grass, the Slovak deputy Prime Minister Bela Bugar, French MP Daniel Cohn-Bendit and Vaclav Maly, the Archbishop of Prague. Western Europe, uneasy about immigration and crime, has seen a recent shift to the right and growing nationalism has reopened old wounds such as the controversial expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War Two. A recent series of elections across the continent has fuelled the rise in nationalist rhetoric. A spokesman for the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, said the president fully supported the appeal, although as a politician he felt he should not sign it.

Klaus to resign at December conference

The right-of-centre Civic Democrats announced on Thursday that party leader Vaclav Klaus will resign at a special party conference in December. A Civic Democrat spokesman said the entire party leadership would also step down with him, following the worst election result in the party's ten-year history. Mr Klaus, a former prime minister, has come under pressure to resign since the Civic Democrats suffered a second successive defeat at the hands of the ruling Social Democrats, who are now trying to form a centre-left government. A self-styled conservative and admirer of the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Mr Klaus has dominated Czech politics since the fall of Communism in 1989.

Man suspected of manipulation of election results turns himself in

A thirty-year old man suspected of attempted manipulation of ballot papers in the Chanov district in the north Bohemian town of Most, turned himself in to the police on Thursday. More than 400 people from Chanov, a housing estate inhabited mostly by Romanies, were given only the Social Democrats' ballot papers ahead of the election. The man has allegedly confessed to opening all the envelopes containing ballot papers and leaving in only lists featuring the Social Democrats' candidates.

Man convicted of organising murder evades prison custody

Josef Vrabec, a man sentenced to 15 years in prison for organising the murder of the wife of a Czech night club owner, slipped out of prison custody on Thursday evening. Josef Vrabec, a former bouncer at the club, was allowed to leave Vinarice prison in Central Bohemia for two hours on Thursday, but failed to return. Police say they have launched a search for the man.


And finally a look at the weather forecast for the coming weekend. Saturday will be another hot day, with more cloud than in recent days and the chance of showers and storms in places. Temperatures in the daytime will peak at 29 degrees Celsius, falling to lows of 14 degrees at night. Sunday will be partially cloudy with isolated showers or thunderstorms. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach 33 degrees Celsius.