Press Review

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All Czech daily newspapers today report from the official signing of an agreement between the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union to form a new coalition government. MLADA FRONTA DNES carries a facsimile of signatures of two representatives of each party under the agreement. Another common issue is the first meeting of the newly elected Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday.

All Czech daily newspapers today report from the official signing of an agreement between the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union to form a new coalition government. MLADA FRONTA DNES carries a facsimile of signatures of two representatives of each party under the agreement. Another common issue is the first meeting of the newly elected Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday.

A front page editorial in LIDOVE NOVINY is rather sceptical as to the personality of the new prime minister to be, Social Democrat leader Vladimir Spidla. Spidla makes the impression of a nice, decent man, in sharp contrast with his predecessors - arrogant Vaclav Klaus and rude Milos Zeman, the paper says. However, Spidla managed to form a coalition government where his party has an absolute majority and the other two partners take the back seat.

If for example Vaclav Klaus in his time steamrollered his coalition partners in the same manner, critics would have called it intolerable authoritarianism. As for Spidla, LIDOVE NOVINY writes, nice talk and a smiling face may well camouflage machiavellian tendencies and fanaticism. Besides that, having an image of a decent man does not imply that someone will be a good statesman.

MLADA FRONTA DNES leads with a report on sweeping personnel changes planned by the new government members at ministries, state administration bodies and government agencies. Actually, the sub-headline of the article reads "The cabinet wants to take control of both economic and media spheres". Changes are to take place for example at top posts in the National Property Fund as well as in the Council for Radio and TV broadcasting.

Elsewhere, MLADA FRONTA DNES compares the new cabinet, dominated by the Social Democrats, with the previous Social Democratic government of Milos Zeman. Although some faces remain from the old line-up, it is an entirely different body, one which could be considered as a modern European-style Social Democratic government.

Also, the paper notes, the new prime minister will surely treat his ministers differently than Milos Zeman who considered them disposable. In several cases, ministers first learned about their dismissal from the media... The new head of government, MLADA FRONTA DNES believes, will be less authoritarian, giving ministers greater independence and, consequently, greater responsibility.

The formation of the new cabinet shares front page space with the latest economic developments - a slow down of inflation and the continuing strengthening of the Czech currency. The business daily HOSPODARSKE NOVINY expects the Czech National Bank to intervene against the crown. While consumers rejoice over cheaper prices of imported goods, Czech exporters find it increasingly difficult to survive.

According to PRAVO , the Central Bank could cut interest rates at its board meeting on July 25. The paper does not believe it will affect the whole economy significantly but it could help companies get cheaper credit at a time when they are forced to reduce costs.