News Thursday, JULY 15th, 1999

Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail :

Planned cabinet re-shuffle

The prime minister has informed president Havel about a planned cabinet re- shuffle. During a one-on-one meeting at Prague Castle on Wednesday prime minister Zeman and President Havel discussed the performance of the Social Democrats in their first year in office and the prime minister allegedly disclosed the names of ministers he plans to replace. Their names will be made public next Thursday on the 1st anniversary of their appointment to office. Few details have been disclosed of the meeting but President Havel is said to have praised the governments efforts in the field of human rights, citing the dual citizenship law recently approved in the Lower House and the government's unequivocal stand with regard to the planned construction of a wall in Usti nad Labem which would separate a Romany housing estate from that of its neighbours. There is speculation that finance minister Ivo Svoboda maybe one of those forced to go.

Havel says efforts to curb his powers are nonsensical

Meanwhile, President Havel has poured scorn on the two strongest parties joint efforts to limit the president's powers. After discussing some of these plans with the prime minister Havel said that in his opinion the mode of electing the board of the National Bank did not require amending, that curbing the president's right to issue pardons would be nonsensical and that establishing a constitutional decree by which the head of state would be bound to appoint the head of the winning party in the general elections premier was an insult to the common sense of whomever president happened to be in office.

Two opposition parties plan to put up a fight

The Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union have announced that they plan to coordinate their future decision making in Parliament, the Senate and on the political scene in general in order to present a greater challenge to the opposition deal of the two strongest parties, the governing Social Democrats and the opposition Civic Democratic Party. The opposition agreement, which went into effect a year ago enabling the Social Democrats to set up a minority government, has effectively sidelined these two smaller opposition parties, a situation made worse by the fact that they have had difficulties coordinating their policy. The two party leaders have said that is about to change, and that they no longer intend to remain passive to the political stagnation in this country. The wheels of the opposition agreement have been well-oiled but we plan to put a few spokes in the wheels , Christian Democrat leader Jan Kasal told the press. The two parties want to challenge the opposition allies with their own draft proposal for a new electoral law and they have not given up plans to instigate a new no-confidence vote in Zeman's cabinet.

Greens want a law on referenda

The Greens party has expressed serious concern over Parliament's rejection of a bill which would have allowed referenda to be held on controversial issues of national importance. Party chairman Jiri Cejka told the ctk newsagency that direct democracy was being increasingly suppressed in the Czech Republic and that in view of the two strongest parties' efforts to change the electoral system from proportional to majority there was good reason to fear for the future of democracy in the Czech Republic. In Tuesday's Parliamentary vote the bill fell six votes short of the required 120. Its opponents argued that in its present version the bill would allow a certain number of mps to call a referendum on any number of issues or issues of minor significance, which they said would be a total waste of time and money.


Thursday should be partly cloudy with occassional drizzle in places and afternoon highs between 19 and 23 degs C. Nightimme lows between 15 and 11 degs C.