• 09/16/2002

    Leaders of the three-party ruling coalition are holding emergency talks in an attempt to diffuse a row that threatens to split the center-left cabinet. The two month old coalition government is up against its first serious crisis following Parliament's rejection of proposed flood-related tax hikes last Friday. The proposed tax-reform fell through when Freedom Union deputy Hana Marvanova broke ranks with the coalition to honor an election pledge not to raise taxes. The embarrassing one-vote defeat has underlined the fragility of the present ruling coalition and led to emergency talks on a Cabinet reshuffle. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has called on the three Freedom Union ministers to resign and hinted that he may decide to form a minority government with the Christian Democrats that would rely on tacit support from the Communist Party. President Havel, who is due to leave on an official visit to the United States on Tuesday, is meeting the three party leaders on Monday evening in a last minute effort to help resolve the crisis.

  • 09/15/2002

    The Czech racing driver Tomas Enge has won the Formula 3000 championship, after finishing first in the Formula 3000 Grand Prix in Italy on Saturday. However, Mr Enge may be stripped of the title in two week's time, if motor racing's governing body punishes him for failing a drug test after the Hungarian Grand Prix in August. Traces of cannabis were found in his blood after the race.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/15/2002

    Two Czech soldiers serving with the KFOR operation have been killed in an accident involving an armoured personnel carrier in Kosovo. Three other Czech soldiers were injured in Saturday afternoon's crash and were taken to hospital in Pristina. The Czech general staff refused to release further details about the accident, which is now being investigated.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/15/2002

    The governing three-party coalition is likely to continue, but with a reduced role in cabinet for the right-of-centre Freedom Union, the party's deputy leader Robert Kolar said on Sunday. The coalition was rocked on Friday, when the Freedom Union's Hana Marvanova voted against a government tax bill, and then refused to give up her seat in the Chamber of Deputies. The prime minister and leader of the Social Democrats, Vladimir Spidla, has been holding talks with the chairman of the Freedom Union, Ivan Pilip, and the leader of the Christian Democrats, Cyril Svoboda, to try and find a way out of the current crisis.

    The coalition has a majority of one in the 200-seat lower house, and the Freedom Union currently have three ministerial seats. Mr Kolar said his party were likely to lose one or two seats in cabinet. It had appeared on Saturday that Prime Minister Spidla would attempt to form a minority coalition with the Christian Democrats alone.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/14/2002

    Hana Marvanova has said she will remain a member of the Freedom Union and the party's parliamentary group, despite the fact that party figures had put pressure on her to give up her seat in order to save the three-party coalition. Mrs Marvanova announced on Saturday that she was stepping down as one of the lower house's deputy chairs.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/14/2002

    The Prime Minister and leader of the Social Democrats, Vladimir Spidla, is attempting to form a two-party minority coalition government with the Christian Democrats, after a coalition of the two parties and the right of centre Freedom Union collapsed on Friday. Freedom Union MP Hana Marvanova brought about the crisis, when she voted against a government tax bill aimed at raising money to cover the costs of the recent floods. The bill was defeated by one vote. Mr Spidla said that the three-party coalition could only continue if Mrs Marvanova gave up her seat in the Chamber of Deputies, which she refused to do. On Saturday the prime minister said he would probably announce ministers to replace the three outgoing Freedom Union members of the cabinet on Monday.

    The three party coalition had been formed after elections in June and had a majority of one in the lower house. The Christian Democrats have said they would prefer to reach an agreement with the Freedom Union, under which the latter party would support a minority Social Democrat-Christian Democrat government. Meanwhile, Communist Party deputy chairman Miloslav Ransdorf said his party would support such a government on condition that it placed an emphasis on social policy and economic growth.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/13/2002

    The police have arrested three men for allegedly trying to sell the Czech-produced plastic explosive Semtex. The men were caught in possession of 11 kilogrammes of the explosive and five fuses at a motorway rest stop in central Bohemia on Thursday night. Semtex is produced by a company called Explosia, which is based near the east Bohemian town of Pardubice.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/13/2002

    The Communist Party would be prepared to support a minority Social Democrat-Christian Democrat government, the Communist leader Miroslav Grebenicek said after meeting Prime Minister Spidla. Mr Grebenicek said the Communist Party would not push for membership of the government.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/13/2002

    Some Freedom Union MPs have called on Hana Marvanova to give up her post in parliament after she voted against the governing coalition, Mrs Marvanova herself said after Friday's dramatic vote, adding that she had not made any decisions regarding her future. She said she had voted on the basis of the policies for which she had been elected. Mrs Marvanova, one of the deputy chairs of the lower house, stepped down as leader of the Freedom Union after June's elections.

    Author: Ian Willoughby
  • 09/13/2002

    The prime minister, Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla, has proposed forming a minority coalition government with the Christian Democrats, the Christian Democrats' Milan Simonovsky said on Friday, after a member of the other party in the current three-party majority coalition, the Freedom Union, voted against a government tax bill. The Freedom Union's Hana Marvanova voted with opposition parties against the bill, which was defeated by one vote. The package of tax reforms was intended to raise 10 billion Czech crowns to help deal with the devastation caused by August's floods, estimated to be up to 90 billion crowns.

    Author: Ian Willoughby

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