Press Review

Manifestation contre la réforme, photo: CTK

The reform of public finance approved yesterday by the government and the following protest rally of trade unionists in Prague seize the headlines in all major dailies on Tuesday. The front pages of PRAVO and MLADA FRONTA DNES show photos of the same female demonstrator wolf-whistling. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY has a picture of another protesting woman, hooting a horn, while LIDOVE NOVINY shows Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla waving his fist while addressing the crowd.

Photo: CTK
The reform of public finance approved yesterday by the government and the following protest rally of trade unionists in Prague seize the headlines in all major dailies on Tuesday. The front pages of PRAVO and MLADA FRONTA DNES show photos of the same female demonstrator wolf-whistling. HOSPODARSKE NOVINY has a picture of another protesting woman, hooting a horn, while LIDOVE NOVINY shows Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla waving his fist while addressing the crowd.

The public finance reform also fills the editorial pages. In LIDOVE NOVINY commentator Jaroslav Plesl writes that the fiscal reform is in fact no reform at all, just a package of austerity measures in the state budget. The commentator likens the plan to a package of measures introduced in 1997 by the cabinet led by Vaclav Klaus. Both today's reform and the 1997 package came after the first year of the second term of the respective governments and both reforms were pushed by junior coalition partners.

The opinion piece in LIDOVE NOVINY reminds readers of what followed the introduction of the austerity package six years ago. The then government struggled on for a few more months and collapsed in the autumn of 1997. The strongest coalition party, the Civic Democrats, split into two. An interim government was appointed to lead the country to extraordinary elections which resulted in opposition leader Milos Zeman seizing the helm.

Author Jaroslav Plesl predicts a similar development in the case of the current coalition government. General disappointment at the "antisocial" policies of the Social Democrats might cause the party to split up. The question is: will it happen before or after the fall of Vladimir Spidla's government, asks commentator Jaroslav Plesl in LIDOVE NOVINY.

PRAVO carries a story about former defence minister Jaroslav Tvrdik who resigned last month over cuts in spending for the army. According to PRAVO Mr Tvrdik was promised a lucrative post as the head of the Czech Airport Administration but Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky has vetoed Mr Tvrdik's appointment. As to why Minister Simonovsky was against his former colleague getting the job, PRAVO offers no clue but hints that Mr Simonovsky is very sure of himself and is known to make very independent decisions.

MLADA FRONTA DNES brings a partial list of the 34 candidates for the post of general director of Czech Television - the public-service broadcaster. Even though the director's chair is rather wobbly, says the paper, there is no decline in interest on the part of would-be TV bosses. This is the second selection process, the television's supervisory body has called this year, after the first one a few months ago failed to produce a winner.

Czech Television has been rudderless since last November when the supervisory body dismissed Jiri Balvin from the post of director after less than a year in office. Among the applicants are the current interim director Petr Klimes, the head of the news department and news anchorman Jiri Janecek, musician, former Culture Minister and now a talk-show host Michal Prokop or the chairman of the recently dismissed Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting, Petr Stepanek.

And finally, PRAVO carries a gruesome story about two teenage girls who vandalised a graveyard in the village of Bernartice in the Tachov district. The two girls, one of them 13 years old and the other just eleven, were spending the weekend with their grandparents in the village, and on a whim ravaged around forty graves, smashing vases and effigies, ripping out plants and breaking lamps and candles. Because of their age, the two offenders will not be punished, and PRAVO quotes a psychologist as saying that such behaviour might be a result of emotional emptiness and a desire to attract attention.