Press Review

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The face of the Czech Republic's Prime Minister designate, the Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla looks out from all of today's front pages. "The birth of a new Czech government" reads the lead headline in Lidove Noviny. " Sweden : Spidla's role model" says Mlada Fronta Dnes, referring to the future Prime Minister's ambition to build a Scandinavian-style welfare state.

The face of the Czech Republic's Prime Minister designate, the Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla looks out from all of today's front pages. "The birth of a new Czech government" reads the lead headline in Lidove Noviny . " Sweden : Spidla's role model" says Mlada Fronta Dnes , referring to the future Prime Minister's ambition to build a Scandinavian-style welfare state.


Commentators agree that the Social Democrats have come out of these negotiations exceptionally well, at the expense of their weaker coalition partners. "They have all they wanted, says Mlada Fronta Dnes , both in terms of policy programme and the distribution of ministerial posts. With eleven key posts there is no doubt as to who will be calling the shots in this government.

Lidove Noviny is inclined to be pessimistic, saying that while Mr. Spidla builds his welfare state the Czech Republic will fall deeper into debt than ever. With this year's state deficit forecast at 80 billion crowns this country needs statesmen with long-term vision, not politicians with a 4 year plan, the paper says. Mr. Spidla will give the public immediate benefits without a care for who will foot the bill once he's out of office.


While the Social Democrats are savoring their triumph, Vaclav Klaus the leader of the centre right Civic Democratic Party is eating a lot of humble pie. Mr. Klaus has had to clear out his office for the new Speaker of the Lower House and will move to a regular seat on the opposition benches. Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that the former prime minister is not used to playing second fiddle and that he rejected the idea of serving as deputy-speaker.

Pravo notes that the Civic Democrats are still waiting for the results of an analysis of what led to the party's humiliating defeat in the June elections. With hindsight most party members believe that the so called " opposition agreement" - a power sharing deal with the Social Democrats, which marginalized the role of the smaller parties - inevitably broke their back. "The power sharing deal was a bad idea- it was good for the Social Democrats and it was good for the country, but it was lethal for us," a party member told Pravo .


A politician whose star appears to be rising is the outgoing foreign minister Jan Kavan. Mr Kavan has been elected to preside over the 57th UN General Assembly, the first Czech ever to hold this post. But is it really such an honour, asks Hospodarske Noviny , suggesting that one way to find out is to ask oneself how many of the former presidents of the UN General Assembly one can recall. Despite this scepticism, Mr.Kavan has made front pages and commentators say that his new role will boost the country's prestige.


What will certainly not improve the country's prestige is the revelation that the post war Czechoslovak administration effected a black out on information regarding brutal assaults against ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia after WWII. In 1947 Czechoslovak top officials allegedly ordered all documents relating to these crimes to be marked top secret and eventually destroyed. A file has now come to light in the country's military archive according to which a Czech military unit sent to clear out the border area shot to death some 1500 ethnic Germans. Details of this and other crimes were never published.