News Tuesday, JUNE 23rd, 1998

Radio Prague E-News Date: June 22, 1998 Written/read by: Vladimir Tax

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.

Zeman for premier

Late on Monday President Havel asked Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman to start negotiations on forming a new cabinet. The decision was preceded by a series of talks between the president and leaders of four of the five parties that managed to get into the parliament. He excluded the Communists from the talks although they will be the third strongest party in the chamber of deputies.

Mr. Havel said in a statement, and I quote, "After consultations with leaders of the Social Democratic Party, the Civic Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic Union and the Freedom Union, I have decided to ask Milos Zeman, the chairman of the Social Democratic Party which received the biggest number of seats in the Chamber of Deputies, to immediately start political talks on a ruling coalition, the premier, the cabinet and its manifesto, and whether other parties would be willing to tolerate the cabinet so that it successfully passes a vote of confidence in the lower house." End of quote.

The president also offered Milos Zeman help, should he need it during the talks.

Mr. Zeman accepted the task. He said he expected the negotiations to be difficult and that he would rely on president Havel's help. "I realize that the sense of this effort is to change government policies in order to liven up economic growth and solve some social problems," Milos Zeman said, adding that it would be necessary to communicate with all the parties present in the parliament. "I believe that this country will have a stable government during the next four years," Milos Zeman concluded.

Christian Dems. reject Zeman

Christian Democrat regional leaders have rejected the idea of forming a government coalition with the Social Democrats, although party chairman Josef Lux has admitted it is possible.

Leaders of most Christian Democrat regional organizations as well as the number two man in the party, Jan Kasal, prefer a right-of- center coalition with the Freedom Union and the Civic Democratic Party. Kasal said that the Christian Democrats shouldn't aim to be part of the cabinet at any cost, and added that he could well imagine his party in the opposition.

On the other hand, Josef Lux and Christian Democrats who see a coalition with the Social Democrats as a possible solution argue that a right-wing coalition would have only a majority of two in the Chamber of Deputies while a coalition with the Social Democrats and the Freedom Union would have 137 votes in the 200- seat legislature.

Communists/govt. support

The Communist Party is ready to tolerate a minority cabinet comprised of the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats. Communist leader Miroslav Grebenicek announced that his party would support such a cabinet if its manifesto was aimed at solving the major problems of this country taking into account all its citizens.

Grebenicek said the minority coalition could receive communist support provided the center-right Christian Democrats focus on the social aspects of a market economy, and the Social Democrats fulfil their programme, which has aims that are similar to those of the communists.


Civic Democrat and Christian Democrat leaders Vaclav Klaus and Josef Lux are going to meet on Tuesday to discuss possible cooperation.

The meeting was initiated by Vaclav Klaus, who met with Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman on Monday. They said after the talks that they had discussed neither forming a grand coalition nor the possibility of Klaus's party tolerating a minority cabinet of the Social and Christian democrats.

Zeman best premier - poll

The biggest number of Czechs -- almost a quarter of them -- would like to see Social Democrat leader Milos Zeman as the next premier. This according to the latest opinion poll conducted by the Sofres-Factum agency. On the other hand, most of those asked would prefer a right-wing coalition to lead the country.

The poll showed that the elections did in fact end in a stalemate because the majority of Czech citizens are unable to decide who would be the best premier and which parties would form the best coalition government.

Crown to remain stable (?)

Analysts expect the Czech crown to remain stable for the next days, given the relatively positive results of the elections. They expect the markets to wait until a new cabinet is formed. The crown strengthened on Monday and dealers expect it to hover around the level of 18.50 per German mark.

Czech weather report

And finally, a quick look at the weather. Weather in the Czech Republic on Tuesday should be influenced by a high pressure area moving across Western Europe. We are expecting a mostly clear day with increasing cloudiness towards the evening. Highest daytime temperatures should range from 20 to 24 degrees Celsius. Wednesday should be cloudy or partially cloudy with scattered showers, with temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.

And that's the end of the news.