Press Review

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Campaigning for June's elections absolutely dominates the daily newspapers today. But of course, the Olympics make the main headlines in Czech daily newspapers today. Most front pages carry photos featuring rejoicing Canadian hockey players who have won their first Olympic gold for 50 years. However, the papers write the shining successes of the sportsmen at one of the greatest sporting events of the year were somewhat dimmed by doping scandals involving some cross-country skiers who had to hand back their medals.

Campaigning for June's elections absolutely dominates the daily newspapers today. But of course, the Olympics make the main headlines in Czech daily newspapers today. Most front pages carry photos featuring rejoicing Canadian hockey players who have won their first Olympic gold for 50 years. However, the papers write the shining successes of the sportsmen at one of the greatest sporting events of the year were somewhat dimmed by doping scandals involving some cross-country skiers who had to hand back their medals.

Mlada fronta Dnes reports on a plan by the transport minister Jaromir Schling to subsidise purchases of new cars if people scrap their old ones. Everybody who gets rid of a car older than 15 years would receive 90 thousand CZK from the government if he or she buys a new one at a price of up to 250 000. The paper writes that this applies to over a third of all cars on Czech roads - 1.2 million. The government argues that it aims to improve road safety and the environment, but the opposition has condemned the costly plan as another pre-election trick.

And indeed, the ruling Social Democratic Party seems to have a competitive advantage over the other parties in this respect. Lidove noviny lists all the subsidies and financial support that the cabinet has promised to both regional governments and individual citizens. These include for example child benefits for all families regardless of the level of income, low-interest loans for young families for housing purposes, and free prescription drugs for people over 70.

And once more on the topic of the elections, today's Pravo devotes a whole page to small political parties which are not currently represented in parliament but aspire to change the division of power on the Czech political scene. Many of them use sheer populism to attract voters, such as by promising full employment and the unrestricted right to kill in self-defence.

Another common issue is the immigration policy. Some of the parties see a restrictive approach to foreigners as a way to reduce the crime rate in the Czech Republic. Fortunately, there are also more reasonable parties who seek acceptable solutions to issues like pension system reform or removal of administrative price regulations.

Pravo asked a few people in the streets whether they could name any political party other than those represented in parliament. Most of them said they were disappointed by the current political representation and would like to choose an alternative but generally did not know anything about the ambitious political dwarves.