News Sunday, NOVEMBER 15th, 1998

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Vladimir Tax and here's the news. First the headlines.

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

No clear winner in Senate elections

The Central election committee has released the final results for the Senate elections which were held in one third of the 81 Senate constituencies. In the first round, no candidate received more than fifty percent of the vote, that means that a second round between the top two contenders from the first round will be held in all 27 districts.

Candidates from the Civic Democratic Party of former Prime Minister Klaus made it to the second round in 22 constituencies, in thirteen of them, the party's candidate won the most votes. Social Democrat candidates were first in three districts and proceed to the second round in another 12, the coalition of four conservative parties won in 10 constituencies and were second in a further 4, and the Communists were successful in three constituencies in one of which their candidate won the most votes.

Although the Civic Democrats were the most successful, they were cautious in evaluating the outcome of the Senate elections. Deputy chairmen Miroslav Macek and Miroslav Benes pointed to the previous senate elections, in which many Civic Democrat candidates succeeded in the first round, but were then defeated in the run-off.

Social Democrat leader, Prime Minster Milos Zeman voiced his anger and disappointment at the results of the Senate elections. He said that Social Democrat senators who sought re-election but failed must be stripped of their functions within the party. "In some places the seat was there for the taking, he said, "but party candidates failed to rise to the occasion." He went on to tell the CTK press agency that heads would roll in the party.

The Communist party is satisfied with the election results which, according to the deputy leader of the party, Vaclav Exner, even exceeded the expectations of party officials.

Local elections

Czechs were also voting in local elections for members of municipal and district councils. Results showed that independent candidates won a majority of seats at a regional level, while representatives of political parties were more successful in bigger towns and cities.

The overall winner of the local elections is the Civic Democratic Party with just under 25 percent of the vote. Second came the ruling Social Democrats with over 17 percent, followed by the Communists who received 13 and a half percent, and the Christian Democrats with ten percent of the vote.

SocDem come to terms with Cz-Ger discussion forum

And changing the subject, the Social Democratic Party has revised its stance towards the Czech-German discussion forum and nominated a representative into its coordination council. Up to now the Social Democrats had boycotted the forum which was set up to deal with post-war reconciliation between the two nations. Social Democrat deputy leader Vladimir Spidla said the party leaders had changed their position in response to what he described as the new German government's more flexible and positive approach to Czech-German relations. Spidla also said there was now a good chance that Czechs forced to work in Germany during the Second World War would receive compensation.

Rabbi criticizes politicians

Prague Rabbi Karol Sidon has criticized political representatives for inconsistency in fighting racism. In connection with the recent racially motivated attempted murder of a soldier of Jewish origin, Sidon also condemned the reluctancy of the general public to report racially motivated offences and crimes. In Sidon's opinion, it is only a question of time before the neo-nazi skinheads' aggression against people with a different colour of skin turns against other minorities as well.

Trade surplus

The Czech Republic has recorded a growing trade surplus with Germany. The Czech Statistical Office reported that over the first nine months of this year, the trade surplus exceeded four hundred million German marks. Germany is the Czech Republic's biggest trade partner and accounts for 36 percent of Czech exports. The main trade articles on both sides include machinery, means of transport, and semi-finished products.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. It should be mostly cloudy with occasional showers and temperatures between zero and 4 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.