News Sunday, JUNE 14th, 1998

A week before general elections opinion polls indicate their outcome will not break the existing political deadlock

The Christian Democrats, who according to the SOFRES poll only just cross the magic 5% barrier, have told voters that given the chance they would turn the country into another Austria or Germany

A commemorative ceremony has been held in Lidice, which was razed to the ground in a Nazi punitive action 56 years ago

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail

ODS and Social Democrats running neck and neck Just one week before general elections, opinion polls suggest that their outcome will not break the existing political deadlock. The poll, released on the last day before a moratorium comes into effect, showed that none of the currently declared alliances would be able to form a majority Cabinet. A victory of the Social Democrats is also less certain, for although they are still holding the lead the gap between them and ex-premier Klaus' ODS has narrowed to a mere 2.5 percentage points. ODS leader Vaclav Klaus has reacted to the news by saying his party is aiming for victory, while his arch rival Milos Zeman of the Social Democrats said tersely that he didn't trust opinion polls. Zeman also revealed that if he failed to form a government, in the event of his party's victory, he would resign as chairman. Klaus has made it clear that his party would certainly not support a minority left-wing government.

Lux makes bid for voter sympathy Meanwhile, the Christian Democrats, who according to the SOFRES poll have slid precariously close to the magic 5% barrier to seats in Parliament, have made a last-minute bid for voter sympathy. Party leader Josef Lux told Czechs that if they wanted to see the Christian Democrats' vision in practice they had only to look to neighbouring Austria or Germany. Contrary to what Vaclav Klaus is telling voters, those who don't want a leftist leadership and are disheartened by ODS politics do have a choice, Lux said. They have us. Somewhat ironically, the Christian Democrats have also cast themselves as an alternative to the Social Democrats, whom they have courted as a potential coalition partner.

Lidice - commemorative ceremony A commemorative ceremony has been held in the town of Lidice, which was razed to the ground in a Nazi punitive action 56 years ago. Following the assassination of Reich-protector Reinhard Heydrich, all 102 houses were burnt to the ground, the men executed, women and children sent to concentration camps. 82 Lidice children ended up in gas chambers.

Jewish legacy An event entitled "The Jewish Cultural Legacy in the Czech Republic" has just opened at the Czech embassy in Washington. Co-organized by the Project Judaica Foundation, it includes an exhibition of photographs taken at Jewish cemeteries by Vladimir Adam Gdovin and an exhibition of paintings and poems written by children interned in the Terezin Ghetto.

Brass band music festival Despite the rainy weather, the Czech town of Kolin is resounding with brass band music this weekend. The 36th annual brass band music festival has attracted 23 Czech and foreign ensembles and a horde of brass band music lovers who return to the town every summer for the open air concerts, laugher and comradrie that transcends borders. Kmochuv Kolin is the biggest European Festival of brass band music and its folklore, with singing and dancing in the streets, attracts more and more tourists every year.

And finally a look at the weather - although the weather is expected to remain overcast and rainy for the rest of the weekend, with day temp at 14 to 18 deg C, Monday should bring a noticeable improvement an by mid-week temps should be back to around 27 degs C.