Press Review

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The coalition government is under pressure from all sides -can it possibly survive? That is the question which commentators are now addressing daily, depending on which way the wind happens to be blowing. Today Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla is seen as having triumphed in the clash of wills with trade unions, who have agreed to desist from further protest actions despite having received no significant concessions from the government.

The coalition government is under pressure from all sides -can it possibly survive? That is the question which commentators are now addressing daily, depending on which way the wind happens to be blowing. Today Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla is seen as having triumphed in the clash of wills with trade unions, who have agreed to desist from further protest actions despite having received no significant concessions from the government.

"The trade unions have been beaten, now its time to deal with Hojdar" says the lead headline in today's Lidove Noviny. The paper notes that the Social Democrat rebel Josef Hojdar has manoeuvred himself into a very tight spot. The politician, whose ministerial ambitions were painfully thwarted, is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame - the future of the Cabinet depends on his vote - but he is not in an enviable position, the paper says.

If he lets the government fall he will forever close the door to his party career and political ambitions. And even if he changes his mind at the last moment and supports the government he will still remain the party's black sheep, the loose canon who is totally unreliable. Already Social Democratic Party deputies have raised their voices against him, describing him as a prima donna demanding special privileges. Hojar should be shot - one of them told the paper in anger.

The Prime Minister's fight for survival has inspired commentators to using unusually colourful language. In Mlada Fronta Dnes - Martin Komarek describes the prime minister as a marathon runner hunted by bloodthirsty wolves from the right and by wild boars from the left. The wolves are the opposition Civic Democrats, the wild boars members of the Prime Minister's own party who would like to see him fall.

Away from politics, visitors to the Czech Republic will be pleased to hear that the Czech authorities are planning to establish a special police unit trained to help tourists. This special police force should be able to communicate in foreign languages-unlike many regular officers - and help foreigners who run into difficulties with dishonest taxi drivers or get robbed by pickpockets.

The Prague Town Hall is determined to find a way to reduce the amount of car traffic in the streets of the Czech capital. On average, six hundred thousand cars congest the streets of Prague on every work day of the week. In addition to air pollution there is now a serious problem with parking space.

In an effort to persuade Czechs to leave their cars at home and use public transport, the town hall organized a demonstration to prove that the latter form of transport is actually much quicker. Town hall employees divided into four groups - one used a car, another a motorcycle, the third a bicycle and the fourth headed for the bus station on foot. All started out from Bohnice, a Prague 8 housing district and headed for their workplace in the centre of Prague.

The man who was taking the bus and metro to work was placing bets that he would be there first, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. However the bus was late and full of schoolchildren so he had a problem squeezing in. On the metro he told accompanying newsmen how good it was to be able to read the paper instead of having to concentrate on driving. He arrived at work, somewhat dishevelled, ten minutes after his colleagues who used a motorcycle and bicycle. Even the car got there ahead of him but because there was no parking space the man in the car got to work last. Not the most successful of demonstrations, the paper notes.