Press Review

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The talks on forming a new coalition government dominate Tuesday's front pages. " Just three more obstacles to be overcome" says the lead headline in Lidove noviny. Commentators note that the will to reach agreement is considerable and that the outlooks are optimistic. Freedom Union leader Hana Marvanova, whose liberal party is far removed in policy matters from the welfare programme of the Social Democrats , told Pravo she was "confident that the talks would produce a viable pro-European government" .

The talks on forming a new coalition government dominate Tuesday's front pages. " Just three more obstacles to be overcome" says the lead headline in Lidove noviny. Commentators note that the will to reach agreement is considerable and that the outlooks are optimistic. Freedom Union leader Hana Marvanova, whose liberal party is far removed in policy matters from the welfare programme of the Social Democrats , told Pravo she was "confident that the talks would produce a viable pro-European government" .

Hospodarske noviny says that all three parties have shown a readiness to compromise and even discard sensitive issues which threaten to block the talks. Controversial issues such as the purchase of new fighter jets for the Czech Air Force and the legalization of gay marriages - or "same sex registered partnerships" - have thus been taken off the agenda on the understanding that they will be decided in Parliament without prior commitment from the governing parties.

Mlada fronta Dnes notes that although all three parties have stated that they consider policy matters a top priority, serious problems could still arise when they start discussing the division of posts in government. So far the Social Democrats have refused to debate the issue, although the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union arrived at Monday's talks armed with a list of potential candidates for ministry posts. The Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla, who is known to have serious reservations against some of the candidates on those lists, allegedly told his partners to "keep those papers in their briefcase for the time being".

Although it is clear even now that the Social Democrats will get the lion's share of Cabinet posts -on the basis of the election results - Mlada fronta Dnes feels that there may be a storm brewing over who will get the key ministries in government. According to the paper, the Freedom Union is making a bid for the justice, finance and industry ministries as well as the ministry of education - a post that according to insiders -was reserved for the Social Democrat's most popular politician Petra Buzkova. With a lot of bargaining going on behind the scenes, Mr. Spidla obviously wants to keep bargaining on policy issues strictly apart from bargaining on ministerial posts, the paper says.

Although the Dalai Lama is currently in the Czech Republic, his quiet day of meditation on Monday merited no media attention. Besides, all the photographers were busy documenting the coming home of the country's national hero - goalie Dominik Hasek . Wearing a big smile and a "Dominator" sweat shirt Hasek has made all the front pages. He told Pravo he had no immediate plans for the future - and that he would spend the next six months with his family, helping his children to adjust to their new life in the Czech Republic.

Those readers who have trouble making ends meet should turn to the economics section of today's Mlada fronta Dnes . They will doubtless welcome the news that -as their rent payments increase- they can save money on their weekly grocery bills. As home grown fruits and vegetables come on the market shopping for food has become much cheaper and recently the price of meat has also dropped . Thanks to the strong crown foreign holidays are also cheaper.

But, what's good news for some is bad for others says Hospodarske noviny. The strong crown has driven many Czech exporters to the brink of bankruptcy. They are effecting lay-offs, asking their employees to take unpaid leave or not paying their wages on time. More than ever economic analysts are calling on the Central Bank to intervene.