Press Review

Do Czech politicians succumb to lobbyists? And how will Czech banks defend themselves against anti-globalization activists during the IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague?

Czech people think that it's pressure from lobby groups rather than the views of voters that influence Czech politicians most, writes today's LIDOVE NOVINY. According to the paper, three quarters of Czech citizens see the personal intervention of a powerful person as the main factor when politicians make a decision. On the other hand, only 30 percent of people think that a politician acts with the aim of meeting his voters' needs. And to send a letter to an MP is usually a lost cause, most Czech people believe. LIDOVE NOVINY presents the reaction of the opposition Freedom Union MP Vladimir Mlynar, who said this only shows that people see politicians in a bad light. "This is the result of the low political culture in this country," Mlynar told the paper, also pointing to the fact that employment of some ministers in rich private firms while ignoring the conflict of interests might only pour more oil onto the flames.

"Banks are afraid of becoming the most frequent targets for anti-globalization protesters," reads the title of an article in MLADA FRONTA DNES. The paper reports that many bank managers are pondering now as to what tactics should their banks choose in the last week of September, when Prague will host the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The American-owned GE Capital Bank went as far as to write letters to its clients, advising them to avoid the bank that particular week and arrange their matters well in advance. An unnamed representative of another bank told MLADA FRONTA DNES that his bank asked its employees to wear casual clothes and behave inconspicuously. Although Czech anti-globalization protesters consider these warnings exaggerated, they do not rule out the possibility of banks being the targets of possible attacks.

Today's PRAVO asks what will the promised pay raise for teachers look like next year? The paper expresses surprise over the fact that Prime Minister Milos Zeman promised a pay raise of 1,500 crowns a month to "good" teachers only. The PM told PRAVO three days ago quite explicitly: "If a teacher comes to you complaining that he did not get more money, then it must be a bad teacher." Teachers' Union boss Jaroslav Rossler seems to be bewildered. "I don't know how to tell a good teacher from a bad one, " he told the paper, "no such lists are available."