Written by Pavel Vondra & Naďa Straková
HUNTING SEASON IS ON ONCE AGAIN in the Czech politics as the ruling coalition faces yet another no-confidence vote from the opposition Social Democrats (ČSSD).
Party leader and ex-PM Jiří Paroubek believes the time has come to give it another try, no matter how toothless the previous bids to sink the three-way coalition came out to be.
Reasons cited for the motion are several: controversial Deputy PM Jiří Čunek’s return to the cabinet, the alleged misleading of the public about the state of the public finances which necessitated a public spending reform package last year and last but not least the government’s refusal to share details from the ongoing negotiations with the US about hosting its military base on Czech soil.
While Communists quickly jumped on the bandwagon and promised to help bring down the government, such prospect remains highly unlikely as the coalition remains united at the moment which denies the opposition the necessary numbers.
Opposition only commands 97 votes in the chamber, while it would need at least 101 deputies voting against the cabinet to bring it down.
“This coalition will only be in danger when it loses the courage to push forth its reform agenda, not when Mr. Paroubek feels it opportune,” said Minister of Labour and Social Affairs from the Civic Democratic Party (ODS) Petr Nečas on Sunday in a debate on public TV.
SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD GO? It increasingly looks like the Czech PM Mirek Topolánek will not be going to Beijing for the ceremonial opening of the Olympic Games in August. Majority of the ministers in the cabinet that Aktuálně.cz spoke to said it was a bad idea.
Besides, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg called on politicians across Europe to stay away from the event in hopes of driving a message to the Chinese leadership that human rights violations will not do.
But they all largely agree about Czech athletes attending the games, as sports and politics should not mix. This stand is also backed by a majority of Czechs.
Speaking of Olympics, guess who was the first nation in the world that extinguished the Olympic torch? No doubt Hitler’s henchmen knew right then that the immediate eastern neighbour of Germany has to be dealt with rather sooner than later.
THE SHOW TRIAL ON STAGE. The well-known story of the judicial murder of Milada Horáková and the show trial with her is now made into an opera. The opera is titled Tomorrow will.. (Zítra se bude..) and was premiered last week in Kolowrat, one of the stages belonging to the National Theatre in Prague.
The trial, inspired by Stalin’s show trials of his 1930s purges, was based completely on trumped-up charges. Pro-democratic Horáková, member of the National Socialist Party (no mistaking with its German namesake, please!) resigned from parliament after communists took over in 1948. She was then accused of treason and sentenced to death in 1950.
UNESCO LIST NOMINATION. The hilltop tower which rather uniquely blends with its surroundings at the top of Ještěd mountain may not be mentioned in tourist guide books as frequently as Kutná Hora and/or Český Krumlov but soon it could attract more attention than it has so far. Ještěd was listed among the hot Czech UNESCO nominees and if all goes well, should be included in 2010.
SOCIAL BENEFITS FOR FOREIGNERS´ KIDS. If you are an EU citizen, have children and live and work in the Czech Republic, be aware – ombudsman Otakar Motejl stands behind you. He claims your children are entitled to state social benefits, even in they do not have permanent residence.
BREAKTHROUGH IN ZOO. Ostrava´s zoo may be soon throwing a birthday party, as one of its residents is to give birth. The pregnant elephant mother has come all the way from Ireland to Ostrava where everyone hopes she soon will give a first historic elephant birth in a Czech zoo.
A LITTLE AMERICAN DREAM FULLFILLED. Czechs are not only beer and ice hockey loving nation; they helped a man who ran pate producing business to build up a giant company and get rich by buying his pate a.k.a paštika in Czech. Now the owner of Hamé that also produces ketchups, jams or sandwiches, sold the company to Iceland ´s Nordic Partners and earned billion CZK.
URBAN CHANGES IN PRAGUE. Downtown Prague may get a completely new look in the near future; you will be able to walk down Vinohradská street all the way to the Wenceslas Square, not having to cross the busy and often congested highway known popularly as magistrála among Czechs, as it will be placed underground. That and plenty of other changes await residents of Prague in the upcoming years, the urban planning designs, which Aktuálně.cz saw, show.
FOR THE RECORD: Czech Republic’s tennis team will have to wait (yet) another year to win its second Davis Cup (well, technically, its only win to date belongs in equal share to Slovakia as it was won in 1980 during the times of the federation) after it lost in this year’s quaterfinals to Russia in Moscow over the weekend.
It was rather sad to watch the fantastically playing Czech number one Tomáš Berdych limp off the court after he injured his ankle and had to quit midway through the fifth set of his match against Nikolay Davydenko.
It may (or may not, depending on how you see it) serve as a consolation to know that the 2006 Cup winners and last year’s runners-up have not lost at home since 1995. Well, next time!