Press Review

Even though Senate and local government elections are not due until November 12th, the Social Democrats have launched their election campaign with a bang. And it was exactly the way their voters like it, Lidove Noviny notes, an open-air jamboree of beer and goulash as the Social Democrats promised "a struggle over issues that matter most to the public." The Communists' election campaign is not quite so visible, but is very intense and started way back in May. So where has that left the right-of-centre parties? asks Sylva Spokova of Lidove Noviny. The Civic Democrats are not doing anything much and members of the four-party right-wing alliance have yet to approve each others' campaign plans. No matter how smart their tactics may be, it's often the longest and most obtrusive campaigns which work best. The left-of-centre parties know this well and it gives them an edge over their rivals in campaigning, the author concludes.

If anyone rivaled the media attention commanded by the Social Democrats this weekend it was a brown bear in the Beskydy Mountains who had succeeded in avoiding a number of ingenious traps set by mountain rangers all week. On Saturday the bear finally took the bait, succumbing to the temptation of a pot of honey. The bear's photo appears in all of Monday's papers along with news that it must have escaped from captivity since it was perfectly at home in the cage, drinking water from a plastic bucket and responding to the name Misha. "This is certainly no wild animal--it knows where it is and it's happy," said one vet. The bear had been pilfering nearby farms and the locals are relieved to be able to resume the Czech national obsession of mushroom picking without fear of coming face to face with Ursus Ursus. According to Ceské Slovo the bear has a new temporarily home: Chomutov Zoo.

And, documenting the truth of the former statement about mushroom-picking, Pravo has a front-page snapshot showing a mushroom-picker holding aloft an incredible looking specimen. The article says the enthusiast picked three thousand mushrooms in the space of three hours. Some locals near the Czech-German border who prefer money to mushrooms actually stand along the main road offering baskets of them to German tourists or Czech day-trippers.

Though many businesses are losing money due to the bad weather, pub owners are happy. Beer sells as well as ever on a rainy day,often better. However, they do have reason for concern. The country's three largest breweries--Budvar, Plzensky Prazdroj and Prazske Pivovary--have caught on to the benefits of opening their own chain of restaurants, providing quality beer, good service and beer glasses with their logo. Forty such pubs and restaurants are already doing good business across the Czech Republic, the most successful of them are either self-styled 'sports bars' or 'retro', with decor from the 30s.

And finally Zemske Noviny carries a report on a meeting of chefs from across the country to celebrate St. Vavrinec Day over the weekend--St. Vavrinec being their patron saint. They created wonderful pastries and dishes for visitors on Prague's main exhibition grounds, Vystaviste. According to to the paper, their current nightmare is how many people are addicted to junk food and just want to grab a bite as they rush to or from work. "We want to remind people of what we have to offer, that dining is a pleasure and cooking an art," one of them told the daily.