Prime Minister Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) has presented a plan to ban anonymous and surreptitious political campaigning with fines for offending political parties and publishers. A watchdog financed by the parties is also put forward.
For a third week the government didn’t manage to decide who will head the Energy Regulatory Office (ERÚ). The government’s hesitation is sending a very bad signals to the market because it is fueling speculation that the new chairman of the powerful energy watchdog will be chosen under pressure from lobbyists.
The Czech government last week endorsed a draft bill on the General Inspectorate of Security Services (GIBS) and at the same time approved powers for Prime Minister, Petr Nečas (Civic Democrats, ODS) to immediately appoint an interim director of the inspectorate as soon as the bill has been passed by parliament and signed by President Václav Klaus. The new watchdog will have 335 employees and an annual budget of around Kč 300 million.
In marked contrast to his long delay in accepting de facto Public Affairs (VV) leader Vít Bárta’s resignation as Transport Minister, President Václav Klaus has confirmed the appointment of Bárta’s party colleagues Karolína Peake as Deputy Prime Minister, and Pavel Dobeš as Transport Minister, in a brief ceremony at Prague Castle. Coalition leaders agreed on a last-minute compromise Thursday night.
Ten years since its conception, the Revolution Train, to comprise multimedia interactive exhibits warning school children of the dangers of drugs including alcohol and tobacco, has only three of eight planned wagons completed. Moreover, the train still doesn’t have the Czech Railway Authority’s permission to use the network. Some drug prevention experts say the money would be better spent elsewhere.
Public Affairs (VV) will stay in the three-way center-right Czech coalition government with a new deal between parties ready for signing on Thursday afternoon, VV leader Radek John said in the morning. VV threatened to quit by the end of June, threatening the government’s collapse and early elections, unless a series of policy demands and call for more ministerial seats were met.
It has become a Czech custom of sorts that in times of government crisis there is always strong speculation about the replacement of top managers of state-controlled enterprises. And in recent weeks, speculation has reemerged about who could replace Martin Roman as boss of power utility ČEZ. A source close to the Prague branch of the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS) says some in the party want ex-Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek to take Roman’s place.
The leaders of the three ruling coalition parties failed to agree to a new coalition agreement after four hours of talks on Sunday. Public Affairs (VV), the smallest of the three, still says it will leave the coalition if amendments to the coalition agreement are not endorsed by June 30. Center-right TOP 09 says the current coalition agreement is still valid and will not negotiate any personnel changes.
Mirek Toplánek, whose loose tongue cost him the leadership of his party, has made headlines again for abusing a journalist with explicit language in an SMS. The tabloid daily Blesk reported that Toplánek is sending his son to an expensive private school and bought him a BMW; a journalist from parlamentnylisty.cz then asked him to explain his source of income but instead received a tirade of expletives.
If elections were held now, Public Affairs (VV) would fail to get enough votes to enter the lower house of Parliament, while the Christian Democrats (KDU-ČSL) would squeak past the 5 percent threshold. Overall, the Social Democrats (ČSSD) would win, according to a straw poll conducted by CVVM in mid-June. The Communist Party (KSČM) has also made gains, putting the political left in the catbird seat.