Press Review

The news that Parliament on Tuesday overruled President Havel's veto of a law which would significantly increase state funding for Parliamentary parties has evoked a storm of criticism from political commentators.

Zemske Noviny and Ceské Slovo note that there are very few things that our law-makers are able to agree on, and whilst much badly-needed legislation is blocked for months on end, when it comes to their own wallets MPs are able to pass a bill virtually overnight - even linking it to a totally unrelated, but urgent legislation, in order to validate it as soon as possible.

Lidove Noviny notes that the President is likely to take the matter back to the Constitutional Court, which earlier confirmed his suspicion that in its present form the law gives the larger parliamentary parties an unfair advantage, and is therefore in violation of the Constitution.

Constitutional Court Judge Antonin Prochazka has told Lidove Noviny that by its action the Lower House of Parliament had openly ridiculed the Constitutional Court and he noted that MPs had not even waited for the Court's official verdict in writing before overruling the President's veto.

The President's spokesman Ladislav Spacek told the paper he could not say whether Mr. Havel would choose to take the issue back to court, but he noted that it was now up to the voting public to draw their own conclusions.

In today's Pravo the President is seen with a broad smile on his face as he accepts a hockey shirt from the hands of the new World Hockey Champions. The fact that the Czech team, which was given a rousing welcome by thousands of fans on the Old Town Square, chose to snub political leaders Vaclav Klaus and Milos Zeman while going out of their way to show their respect to the head of state has not gone unnoticed.

Both Vaclav Klaus and Milos Zeman have denied that any meetings with them had actually been scheduled, but the Prime Minister has grudgingly admitted that there may be some hostility on the part of the Czech team with respect to the fact that the Czech Republic has proved unable to agree the construction of a new ice arena in time to host the 2003 World Championships.

The news that the Czech Republic is likely to have a smaller professional army in several years' time has received approval both from NATO officials and young men who, under the present law, have to spend 12 months doing their compulsory military service. However Czech hospitals and retirement homes say they will be badly hit by the changes - a lot of the daily chores in these institutions are performed by young people who have taken the option of an 18-month civil service instead of going to the army.

And finally, an iced drink on a balcony on a warm spring day may seem like a nice treat but it is one which a 42-year-old woman from Ceska Lipa is not going to repeat in a hurry.

The woman was paying her neighbour a friendly visit and the two went out to enjoy a drink on the balcony of the family house. No sooner had they settled down than the balcony crumbled - in the panic, the hostess jumped back indoors while her guest fell to the ground amidst the rubble.

She has had to undergo an operation but has not suffered any permanent injuries. So, there's one lesson to be learnt from this: don't sit on the balconies of poorly maintained houses - and if you must, make sure you are clinging onto your host.