News Sunday, NOVEMBER 22nd, 1998

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Radio Prague E-news

Welcome to Radio Prague . Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail read by DL

Senate elections

Right wing parties triumphed in the second round of elections to a third of the Senate, the upper House of Parliament. The Civic Democratic Party of Vaclav Klaus won 9 of the 27 seats, the four party right wing coalition of Christian Democrats -the Freedom Union-Civic Democratic Alliance and Democratic Union won 13 seats, the governing left of centre Social Democrats a mere 3 seats and the Communist Party 2 seats . However as a result of existing animosity between the right wing parties and the opposition agreement between the Civic Democratic Party of Vaclav Klaus and the governing Social Democrats the picture is less clear than it might seem. The two strongest parties on the Czech political scene have a majority in the Lower House, and the fact that, despite loosing ground, they managed to retain a three fifth majority in the Senate means that they are in a position to effect Constitutional reform. The four small centre right parties see this as a serious threat to their political existence. The second round of elections to the Senate was marked by an exceptionally low turnout - a mere 17 to 23% of voters turned up to cast their ballots.

While right wing parties have expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the vote, the governing Social Democratic Party sees it as an undisputable sign of its flagging popularity. Party vice-chairwoman Petra Buzkova described it as a stinging defeat and noted that the party should assess the reasons and learn its lesson.

Zeman CEI

Czech premier Milos Zeman spent Saturday in Zagreb attending a meeting of the Central European Initiative -a loose grouping of 15 states. While the focus of negotiations was on the troubled Yugoslav province of Kosovo, the talks also covered mutual cooperation and European integration. Premier Zeman's own address emphasized regional cooperation, the need to fight organized crime and protection of the environment. The Zagreb meeting afforded opportunity for a series of bilateral talks and premier Zeman's one on one talks with his Italian counterpart Massimo D'Alema focused on means of fighting corruption. Prime minister D' Alema allegedly promised to send experts to Prague to boost the Czech government's operation Clean Hands.

Ukraine - assistance

The Czech Republic is sending 650,000 crowns in humanitarian assistance to Transcarpathian Ukraine devastated by floods a fortnight ago. The disaster cost 15 lives and has left over 5,000 people homeless. Red Cross and UN relief workers are on the spot trying to relieve people's hardship amidst lack of basic necessities, snow and freezing temperatures. The Transcarpathian region was part of Czechoslovakia in the days of the First Republic.

Prague Castle - Open Doors Day

Prague Castle opened its doors to the public this Saturday and many Czechs made use of the opportunity to get a glimpse of quarters normally off limits to the public, such as the Spanish Hall, Rudolf's Gallery, the Coronation Hall or the wing used by President Havel. The President's office organizes open doors days at Prague Castle twice a year.

Finally, a look at the weather: we're having a cold and crisp weekend here in Central Europe. The forecast for Sunday is clear skies and occasional snow showers. Day temps minus three to plus one degrees. Nighttime lows minus 6 to minus 10 degs C.