News Sunday, JANUARY 25th, 1998

and both the Social Democrats and the Civic Democratic Party have accused president Havel of blackmailing because of his threats to postpone early elections if the caretaker cabinet of premier Tosovsky does not receive support in the parliament.

These are the main points and now the news in more detail.


The Social Democrats will most likely support the cabinet of premier Tosovsky in a vote of confidence which is to take place on Tuesday. On Saturday, the executive committee of the party recommended its MPs and senators to vote in favour of the caretaker government.

Social Democratic Party deputy leader Zdenek Skromach said after a meeting of the executive committee that he expects all the Social Democrat MPs and senators to support the provisional cabinet, however, the party would like the government to provide more details on planned privatisations and price deregulations before the vote of confidence.


On the other hand, the Civic Democratic Party leader Vaclav Klaus announced on Saturday his party's executive committee recommended the ODS MPs and Senators not to support Tosovsky's cabinet. He also said his party preferred the early elections to take place in June.


In a policy statement, the cabinet of Premier Tosovsky states that it will focus on integration into Western structures, finishing necessary reforms including privatisation, and streamlining of Czech the legal system. The cabinet will also try to maintain a balanced state budget.

According to a draft version of the manifesto, acquired by the CTK news agency on Saturday, the government is ready for a dialogue with the trade unions and promises to clearly inform the public about its activities.

SocDem, ODS vs. Havel

Senator Egon Lansky of the Social Democratic Party, who is also an advisor of the lower house chairman Milos Zeman, said that in his opinion, president Havel misused his official powers when he repeatedly threatened to postpone early elections if the caretaker cabinet of premier Tosovsky does not receive support in the parliament. Lansky added he was almost sorry he voted for Havel in the presidential election on Tuesday.

The senator recalled Havel as saying that if premier Tosovsky is forced to resign because of increasing demands from political parties, meaning the Social Democrats and the Civic Democratic Party, he is decided to spend weeks looking for another premier who will then have months to form a new cabinet and ask the parliament for a vote of confidence, which could delay the elections by half a year or more.

In an interview for Czech Radio on Saturday, MP for the Civic Democratic Party Jiri Payne said that he considered Havel's threats as a kind of blackmailing. He said under the constitution, three governments must fail before the president can dissolve the lower house and call early elections.

Presidents say E.Europe must put its people first

On Friday and Saturday, a summit of eleven center and East European presidents took place in the Slovakian town of Levoca.

The two-day meeting brought together the heads of state of European Union members Austria, Germany and Italy along with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria and Ukraine who all want to join the Union.

The summit was devoted to looking for ways to strengthen civil society -- the networks of non-state organisations such as charities, or environmental groups -- which did not exist during the decades of Communist rule.

Several Eastern European leaders, notably Czech President Vaclav Havel, have often written and spoken of the need to develop civil society as a way to make the new-found democracy in former Soviet bloc countries more inclusive. Many in the region say civil society has become more relevant as Eastern European states seek to join NATO and the EU.

Several leaders have also expressed concern that no country should be isolated in the integration process, and the fifth annual meeting of the presidents was taken as an important sign of support for troubled Slovakia which was the only applicant excluded from the first wave of expansion for failure to meet democratic standards.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather forecast. On Sunday, central Europe will be under the influence of a high pressure area. It should be mostly cloudy, with occasional snow showers. Afternoon highs should range from 4 degrees Celsius bellow zero to zero. On Monday and Tuesday we should see more sun than on Sunday, daytime temperatures will remain bellow zero.

And that's the end of the news.