Press Review

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The collapse of the Austrian government and the upcoming first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks against the United States dominate today's front pages. "Tax war erupts in the wake of floods" reads a headline in Mlada fronta Dnes. The paper notes that the floods have had a major impact on politics in this part of the world .

The collapse of the Austrian government and the upcoming first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks against the United States dominate today's front pages. "Tax war erupts in the wake of floods" reads a headline in Mlada fronta Dnes. The paper notes that the floods have had a major impact on politics in this part of the world .

Tax controversy rages across Central Europe - the paper says - it has toppled the Austrian government , it has suddenly become the key issue in Germany's elections and a major row is brewing over the government proposed tax reform here in the Czech Republic, where the proposed tax amendments are the most radical of all .

Hana Marvanova, the former head of the Freedom Union, one of the three parties of the Czech governing coalition, has made her reservations regarding the proposed tax reform clear and Pravo notes that "once again she has the government by the throat". But Mrs. Marvanova should not push too hard, the paper advises, or she might push the Social Democrats straight into the waiting arms of the Communist party.

In an article for Lidove noviny Hana Marvanova herself argues that the recent devastating floods have enabled the Social Democrats to push for tax increases they had been planning for months. This tax reform is being "sold" to the public as a post-flood package, Marvanova says, and it is the only way that the public would accept it .

So will the Freedom Union rock the boat -and is there a real danger of the Czech coalition government collapsing over this controversy? The Social Democrat Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says he is not unduly concerned about the fate of the proposed amendments , since the tax reform is to be approved as a "package" not as a series of independent bills, some of which might otherwise have evoked opposition.

Lidove noviny agrees that, at the end of the day, the Social Democrats will push the reform through. The right wing Freedom Union will protest as a matter of principle, but there is no question that they would follow the example of the Austrian Freedom Party. For the Freedom Union, walking out of this government would amount to political suicide, the paper says.

Both Lidove noviny and Mlada fronta Dnes have devoted several pages to the September 11th anniversary, bringing reports from New York "a year after", commenting on various aspects of the war against terrorism and featuring editorial columns by prominent cultural and political figures. " The attack against the United States was also an attack against Prague - we tend to forget that " says the former Prime Minister Milos Zeman in today's Mlada fronta Dnes .

Hospodarske noviny carries a report on how the world has changed since the September 11th terrorist attacks. World politicians have become more pragmatic, the paper says, and tax payers have come to appreciate money spent on the military, police and secret services. Fear for public safety has enabled parliaments to approve laws which would otherwise have been problematic from the human rights angle. And many people around the world have revised their list of priorities and re-organized their lives.

Mlada fronta Dnes reports that on Wednesday, September 11th, Czech Television will feature a live transmission of the Rolling Requiem concert held in memory of the victims, in which a number of Czech singers will be taking part. A special programme devoted to the anniversary will include interviews with President Havel, Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla and Cardinal Miloslav Vlk.