Press Review

r_2100x1400_radio_praha.png

There is no one dominating theme in today's papers, although there are several eye-catching headlines, not least the one that graces the cover of PRAVO. It reads 'Zeman declares war against Spidla', quoting an article the former prime minister has written criticising his successor.

Milos Zeman
The growing antipathy between Mr Zeman and Mr Spidla is well-known, and the paper quotes Mr Zeman as writing the only thing that could save the flagging Social Democrats now would be a crushing defeat at the polls, leading to Mr Spidla's departure. The article, titled "A Final Word of Advice from Vysocina" - the rural area where the former prime minister now lives, is due to appear this Friday on a Czech web site run by the Social Democrat's former Health Minister Ivan David.

What does Mr Zeman see as wrong about Mr Spidla's leadership? PRAVO quotes him as criticising politicians who are "unable to form their own opinions and fall under the influence of others' ideas, notably those they hear last". The target there obviously Mr Spidla, but also Interior Minister Stanislav Gross.

The daily writes, that in the meantime Mr Spidla has shrugged off his predecessor's comments saying: "Milos Zeman has been at odds with me from the moment this government was formed, apparently because it did not meet his expectations. But it is a government led by the Social Democrats, even if it is a coalition." As for a possible return to politics by the disgruntled Zeman? PRAVO writes Mr Zeman denies the desire for any such move in his article.

LIDOVE NOVINY examines not the latest discord between politicians but an additional angle of public finance reform, which will include a pay freeze for public representatives that include the president, government ministers, members of parliament and constitutional judges. Writes the daily they will not see another pay rise before 2006, if the proposal passes in parliament.

The daily points out that the government believes officials should generally be making three times the average salary in the public sector. The president, of course makes a good deal more than that: almost 170,000 crowns per month. Ministers make almost 90,000; MPs over 46,000 - the last number being closest to the government estimate.

Money is a key issue of course when it comes to the country's hospitals, many of which have run heavily into debt. Health Minister Marie Souckova has now extended an offer to help bail out some of the institutions but there's a catch writes MLADA FRONTA DNES.

According to the daily, the health minister is asking that hospitals reduce up to a third of what she sees as unused and unnecessary beds, as well as some services. Mrs Souckova made the offer to the country's district commissioners, in return for the promise of financial help. Some hospitals, apparently, would be shut down completely. The paper writes that backroom discussions on the matter stress it would be favourable for hospitals to streamline, and specialise more.