Senate approves direct presidential elections
The Czech Senate on Wednesday approved an amendment to the country's constitution introducing direct presidential elections. Many Senators for the Social Democrat party, which enjoys a majority in the upper house of Parliament, spoke against the bill which was put forth by the centre-right Czech government; however, 49 out of 81 Senators voted in favour of the new legislation. If signed into law by President Václav Klaus, the bill will allow Czechs to elect their president directly for the first time next year when Mr Klaus' second term expires. Among those who said that they would consider running for the president is Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, former prime minister Jan Fischer and economist Jan Švejnar.