Press Review

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The assassination of Holland's ultra-right politician Pim Fortuyn is splashed across most of Tuesday's front pages. "Holland's 'Le Pen' shot dead" says the lead headline in today's Lidove noviny. "The Dutch shocked by politician's murder" says Mlada fronta Dnes. " Don't shoot politicians - murders can't stop extremism" reads the heading of an editorial column in the same daily, in which Vilem Buchert notes that the murder of an extremist politician can only benefit extremists.

The assassination of Holland's ultra-right politician Pim Fortuyn is splashed across most of Tuesday's front pages. "Holland's 'Le Pen' shot dead" says the lead headline in today's Lidove noviny. "The Dutch shocked by politician's murder" says Mlada fronta Dnes. " Don't shoot politicians - murders can't stop extremism" reads the heading of an editorial column in the same daily, in which Vilem Buchert notes that the murder of an extremist politician can only benefit extremists.

Extremism is a hotly debated issue these days. "Who is Jean Marie Le Pen?" and "How has Le Pen damaged Czech interests" are just two related articles in today's Mlada fronta Dnes. Commentators note that although Le Pen took a beating in the second round of elections, he will influence French and European politics for some time to come.

Milan Vodicka of Mlada fronta Dnes says that what happened in France is grist to the mill of Euro- skeptics and may well slow down the integration process. Euro-skeptic politicians in both EU and candidate countries can now shift the blame for their own failings on Brussels, the author notes.

On the domestic scene - the papers have covered various aspects of the upcoming general elections. Possibly the most interesting article appears on the front page of Pravo under the heading "President Havel wants to sideline Vaclav Klaus". President Havel's recent statement that he might not necessarily ask the leader of the winning party to set up the new cabinet has been unanimously interpreted as a move against his arch-rival Vaclav Klaus.

Pravo says that according to a well informed source at the Presidential Office, Mr. Havel has reserved this plan only in the event of a close election victory of the centre-right Civic Democrats. With the Social and Civic Democrats running neck-and-neck, a close result would enable either party to set up a government with the opposition two party Coalition, and commentators say that there is no doubt as to which scenario the president would prefer.

For the first time ever Czechs living abroad will be able to vote in the general elections but Hospodarske noviny says that, despite considerable pressure on the Czech Parliament to enable this, only a fraction of those eligible will make use of their new right to vote. Many simply supported the right to vote as a matter of principle, many of those living in the United States or Australia say that the Czech embassy is too far away for them to make the trip.

The paper notes that the authorities have only a general estimate of the number of Czechs whom this concerns - something over 2 million people. Over one million of those live in the United States, some 60 thousand in neighbouring Slovakia, 50 thousand in Canada and approximately 45 thousand in Germany. The number of Czechs living in France, Austria and Australia is believed to be below thirty thousand.

A team of vets have arrived at the conclusion that the German shepherd dog which killed a seven year old boy two months ago shows no sign of aggression and that the dog must have been somehow provoked into attacking the child. The police found plastic pellets and a toy gun on the scene of the tragedy and some neighbours have said that the boy had a habit of teasing and provoking the dog.

More tests are to be conducted before the police decide the dog's fate. Mlada fronta Dnes which carries the story, says charges of negligence resulting in death have been brought against the dog's owner.