News Thursday, JANUARY 22nd, 1998

Radio Prague E news Date: January 22, 1998 Written / read by: Alena Skodova

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm AS and we start as usual with the news:

Party leaders meet Havel

Confidence in the Josef Tosovsky cabinet and the way how to bring about early parliamentary elections will be the main themes at Thursday's meeting between president Vaclav Havel and leaders of the ODS,ODA, Christian democrats and opposition Social democrats as well as chairmen of these parties' parliamentatary deputy clubs. After the new party, the Freedom Union, had been registered, chairman of its deputy club Jan Ruml has also been invited. At two previous meetings, the leaders of parliamentary parties failed to agree under which conditions the cabinet receives confidence. Premier Tosovsky even threatened with resignation last Monday. Estimates show that the government will probably not enjoy ODS support, as the Civic democratic party does not like the fact that the cabinet connected the confidence vote with a bill on the state soil.

New cabinet's policy statement

The Czech government has agreed on the wording of its policy statement with which it will ask the parliament for a vote of confidence. Interior minister Cyril Svoboda told this to newsmen during the cabinet's session. "I think we have proceeded much further, and just a few final touches to the text will be necessary," said Svoboda. He, as well as the chairman of the Christian democrats, Josef Lux, expressed the hope that their government's policy statement will win support from the opposition Social democrats, whose votes will be crucial for the new cabinet. The statement counts on the interim government being in power until early elections in June, but the cabinet will probably not succeed in implenting all their ideas by then. The content of the policy statement will not be made public before January 27th, when it will be presented by premier Josef Tosovsky.

ODS club hesitates about its support of cabinet

The parliamentary deputy club of the Civic democatic party, ODS, does not yet know if its members will support the government when the vote of confidence is held. According to the newly elected chairman of the club, Vlastimil Tlusty, the ODS deputies will take a definite stand after the cabinet submits its policy statement. One ODS deputy, Jan Vidim, told the CTK news agency on Wednesday that he didn't think the new Czech cabinet should receive any support as it is a government that was formed against the ODS's will. Vidim stressed that this was his personal opinion, and that his club has not yet taken any stand, but said that some of his fellow party members have the same standpoint. Deputy chairman of the ODS club, Petr Necas, does not understand how members of the new cabinet can talk about restoring a right-wing policy when the cabinet will be supported by the opposition Social democrats.

Latest opinion-poll on voting preferences

The Sofres-Factum agency has made public the results of its most recent opinion poll, carried out in the second half of December and the beginning of January. According to it, only 13.7 percent of the electorate would give their vote to the Civic democratic party, ODS. Compared to the period after parliamentary elections in 1996, that's a 16 percent drop. The Social democrats, according to poll respondents, would get 27.7 percent of the vote, the Communist party of Bohemia and Moravia would make it to parliament with 10.5 percent, and the ultra- right Republicans would also be successful, with 6.8 percent.

Lobkowitz to Poland

The first foreign visit of the Czech defence minister Michal Lobkowitz will take him to the Polish capital of Warsaw, where he will take part in a regular meeting of Defence ministers from Poland, Hungary and the Czech republic. The ministers agreed to organize these meetings in the summer of 1997, shortly after their countries were invited to talks about their admission to NATO. Prior to the ministerial meeting in Warsaw, there was a regular meeting of chief commanders of the Czech, Polish and Hungarian armies. That took place in the Czech town of Komorni Hradek, last Saturday.


And finally a quick look at the weather: It will be cloudy in the Czech republic today, with snow showers and daily temperatures between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius.