Written by Pavel Vondra
FIVE MORE YEARS with Václav Klaus at Prague Castle. That is the result of last Friday’s second attempt to elect the new Czech president.
While the incumbent was just one vote short of winning re-election the week before, this time the negotiators of his Civic Democratic Party made sure he could count on the 141 votes needed to win in the 281-member parliament. Which he really could as it turned out not one vote less or more in all three rounds.
Although not quite as painful to watch as the first ballot on February 8 and 9, the last Friday’s joint session of the two chambers, which together elect the president under the present (and much criticized) electoral laws, was still far removed from you usual parliamentary proceedings.
Several lawmakers for example found it necessary to make dramatic comments on the wave of threats which some of them were subjected to prior to the election.
And the recently anointed candidate of the Communist Party Jana Bobošíková topped it all off by withdrawing from the race before the voting even began, thus arguably making her aborted presidential bid the shortest-living enterprise of its kind ever.
The healing process can now begin. Among the most severely strained ties are those between the Civic Democrats and their junior coalition partner Green Party, which threw their weight behind Mr. Klaus’s challenger, independent economist Jan Švejnar.
But perhaps just as hurting are the relations between the opposition parties Social Democrats (also backing Švejnar till the end) and Communists who used to be natural allies on the left.
One severed link that clearly cannot be repaired is that between MP Evžen Snítilý and his (no longer) own Social Democrats, who voted for Mr. Klaus. He is to join the outcast club, formed a year ago by fellow ex-ČSSD MPs Miloš Melčák and Michal Pohanka, whose unexpected support helped the current government take office in January last year.
Aside from the verbal rubbish which accompanied the presidential election, real garbage also made headlines last week more than once.
First there was a happy-ending to the long-developing story of the “dumpster baby-boy” who finally found new parents after being abandoned by his biological mother in a trash can last year, and then we brought you a story about Czech companies discovering business potential in the field of waste management.
Not to discount the more traditional ways of digging for the hidden riches, we also gave you a taste of what looks like a black gold rush in the making in the south-eastern part of this country.
But it was not just oil which was in high demand last week. Good old snow appeared to be a highly coveted commodity in Vesec near Liberec in north Bohemia, where the Ski World Cup race in cross country skiing was held last weekend.
Having built the new race track just 400 meters above the sea level, organizers found themselves in a bit of a hurry to conjure up enough of the white stuff to spare themselves a major embarrassment.
For the lack of a better idea they moved truckloads of snow from a nearby Natural Reserve in the Jizerské Hory (Jizera Mountains) ridges, drawing anger both from environmentalists and recreational skiers who felt robbed.
Olympic winner Kateřina Neumannová who has been tasked with organizing the race and preparing the ground for next year’s world championship in Nordic skiing in Liberec said she would do it again, if she had to, undoubtedly raising her chances to win this year’s Ropák anti-award for the least environmentally-friendly person in the Czech Republic.