Czech anti-corruption police and the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) are looking into allegedly suspicious sales of property belonging to the state railways Český dráhy (ČD), the business daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday.
A former advisor of Public Affairs (VV) chairman Radek John and collaborator with de facto party leader Vít Bárta, the former political commentator and pundit Jan Kubáček, appears to be in the race to head President Václav Klaus’ new institute. The behind-the-scenes backer and sponsor of the new institute is set to be the richest Czech and main shareholder in the Dutch-based PPF group, Petr Kellner.
Party leaders across the Czech political spectrum have welcomed the appointment as education minister of political scientist Petr Fiala, an academic with no party affiliation, though the leader of the main opposition says budget constraints will hamstring the new minister’s efforts to reform the sector.
The Executive Council of Public Affairs (VV) reportedly agreed on Tuesday to put forward Jiří Nantl (nonaffiliated) as their nominee to take the ministerial post in the Ministry of Education, recently vacated by Josef Dobeš (VV). Another party member thought to be a strong potential candidate, the former teacher Dagmar Navrátilová, is said not to be interested in the post.
Having resigned as education minister on March 31, Josef Dobeš (Public Affairs, VV) is returning to the same ministry as an advisor to his former deputy, now acting education minister, Ladislav Němec. On first sight the news may appear like a late April fool’s joke, but Dobeš has been “presented” to the top officials at the ministry as an advisor and confirmed the report.
A three-way meeting of unions, employers and the government quickly slimmed down to a two-way get together after union representatives walked out of the meeting due to discuss government budget proposals for 2013 and 2014. PM Petr Nečas (Civic Democrat, ODS) accused the unions of staging the walk out.
High level talks between Czech PM Petr Nečas and the EU Commissioners for regional policy, and social policy, employment, and inclusion, Johannes Hahn and László Andor, seem to have convinced them that the country is earnest about improving its administration and audit of EU funds. But a June deadline looms for dealing with all the Commission concerns.
Josef Dobeš (Public Affairs, VV) has resigned as education minster — ostensibly in protest of the government’s decision to the ministry’s budget by Kč 2.5 billion, which he said would trigger an unacceptable cut in teachers’ salaries. Czech media, however, say his days were numbered, and the unpopular austerity package a convenient excuse for him to exit a “hero.” Dobeš was widely criticized for mismanaging and failing to secure EU funds, and over his unpopular draft law on universities, which led to mass student protests.
The European funding post at the Czech Ministry of Education has never looked more like a turbo-driven revolving door come hot seat after the sixth person in the job under Education Minister Josef Dobeš announced her departure. The move does little to dampen expectations that Brussels’ threats to freeze billions in program payments to the ministry will not be carried out.
The charismatic Vít Bárta and his entourage had been waiting for judgment day for almost a year and undoubtedly prepared for it well. Following the first half of court hearings, however, the predicament of Public Affairs (VV) — the smallest of the three parties in the governing Czech coalition — appears not serious but hopeless. Last week the party experienced the darkest hours yet in its short history.