News of Radio Prague

Little interest in first round of Senate elections

Voting has ended in the first round of the Senate elections, in a poll marked by low turnout. Officials said only 30 percent of the electorate had bothered to vote in the first round, held on Friday and Saturday. A third of the Senate's 81 seats are being contested, in a vote which will help to choose a successor to President Vaclav Havel. The Senate has little real power, as vetoes can be overridden by the lower house. But its consent is crucial for changes to the constitution and its members elect a president along with 200 lower house deputies. Most Czechs see the Senate as irrelevant, and turnout has also been low in past elections.

Zelezny elected senator in first round

The only senator elected in the first round was Vladimir Zelezny, head of the country's hugely popular television station TV Nova. Early results from the Znojmo constituency showed Mr Zelezny had received just over 50 percent of the vote. Elsewhere, candidates for the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats appear to have made the strongest showings, followed by the ruling Social Democrats.

Electoral commission officer dies of heart attack

The only incident in an otherwise uneventful first round occurred in Brno, when a member of the electoral commission died of a heart attack minutes before the polling booth was due to open. Doctors were unable to save the 75-year-old man, who collapsed shortly after arriving on Saturday morning. The chief electoral officer said the polling booth had opened on time.

High winds cause havoc across Czech Republic

High winds in the Czech Republic have brought down trees and caused power cuts. Some roads and railway lines were blocked by fallen trees in western parts of the country, as winds reached over 130 kilometres per hour in places. The strong winds are set to continue in the next few days.

Czechs, Slovaks cautious on EU farming agreement

Foreign ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia have expressed caution at a French-German agreement aimed at settling agriculture issues with European Union candidates. The agreement was billed in Brussels as a solution to the dispute over reform of the EU's Common Agricultural Policy. It calls for a phase-in of farm subsidies after enlargement in 2004 and a subsidy freeze starting in 2007. But Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, following talks in Prague with Slovak counterpart Eduard Kukan, said the agreement was merely "a basis for further negotiation" and a possible step toward resolving the issue.

Weather forecast

Sunday will be another mostly cloudy day, with the chance of showers or rain in places. The high winds affecting the country will continue, and drivers have been warned to exercise caution. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 9 to 13 degrees Celsius.