Press Review

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The outcome of Sunday's regional elections is still at the centre of media attention with reporters trying to ascertain the short- and long-term impacts of the Social Democrats' resounding defeat. "There are countries where the ministers of a minority cabinet would be cleaning out their desks after the kind of public humiliation the Social Democrats have just suffered," says Jindrich Sidlo of Lidove Noviny. However, the Czech Social Democrats are not about to resign of their own accord and the right-of-centre Civic Democrats obviously intend to savour their superiority for another two years before attempting to make a triumphant comeback. Miroslav Macek of the Civic Democrats was perfectly right, Sidlo says. "If you give them space and time the Social Democrats will bring about their own destruction."

The front page of Wednesday's Pravo has probably made a great many right-wing politicians smile. In the wake of their election defeat, the Social Democrats finally did what they have been accused of doing in secret all along; they struck a deal with the Communists. Pravo got the scoop and it's the only paper which carries a front-page report telling readers that the Communists' enforced political isolation is coming to an end. The paper had either the information or foresight to ask a number of Social Democrats how they regard future cooperation with the Communists. Some said it was inevitable, others were seriously worried that the Communist stigma would drag the Social Democrats even further down. "We should not be courting radical left-wing supporters," Social Democrat MP Milan Urban told Pravo. "There is no future for the Social Democrats in that direction."

Meanwhile, Mlada Fronta Dnes and Lidove Noviny carry vaguely worded statements from the right-of-centre Civic Democrats and the Four Party Coalition about whether they would be willing to cooperate and to what extent. Although both claim they are "willing to talk", the papers note that there is still a great deal of hostility under the surface. Commentators share the view that both of these right-wing forces are glad to have another two years in which to grow stronger, in the hope that their future election victory will allow them to call the shots.

Looking at the outcome of elections from a different angle, Martin Schmartz notes that Austrian anti-nuclear activists who are reported to have been thrilled by the defeat of the Social Democrats in the Ceske Budejovice region, home to the Temelin nuclear power plant, are going to be sadly disappointed. To begin with, regional parliaments are not going to have the power to reverse a decision on something as crucial as the activation of a nuclear power plant. Secondly, there is very little chance that they would want to, Schmartz says. What the Austrian anti-nuclear lobby fails to take into account is that in the Czech Republic nuclear power is simply not an issue, the author concludes.

Despite this comment, Pravo readers are not likely to be pleased about the news that the Industry Ministry is looking around for a suitable location for a nuclear-waste dump. Pravo got the information from Senator Jitka Seitlova, who works on a committee which oversees nuclear-waste disposal. The Industry Ministry appeared in no hurry to make the information public, Seitlova told the paper. Five potential sites have already been picked out, and a geological survey is to be conducted some time next year.