News ANO comes first among Czech parties vying for seats in European Parliament
The ANO movement, headed by businessman turned politician Andrej Babiš, came first among Czech parties running in the European Parliamentary elections. ANO gained 16.12 percent of the vote, which translates into four mandates followed by the opposition right-wing TOP 09 which won 15.95 percent, likewise gaining four mandates and the Social Democrats of the ruling coalition came third with 14.17 percent, for which they will also get four seats. Another four parties passed the five percent threshold needed to win seats in the European Parliament: the Communists (10.98%), the Christian Democrats (9.95%), the Civic Democrats (7.67%) and the Free Citizens’ Party (5.24%).
In the Czech Republic, a record 38 parties and movements fielded 849 candidates for 21 seats in the 751-strong assembly. However there was a record low voter turnout - 18.2 percent of Czech voters cast their ballot in the European elections.
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The ANO party, along with the Social Democrats and the three-way coalition of the Greens, the Christian Democrats and Mayors and Independents have agreed on forming a coalition at Prague City Hall. ANO will take five seats in the eleven-member city council, as well as the post of the mayor. The Social Democrats and the three-way coalition will have three seats each. ANO finished first in Prague in the recent local elections, followed by TOP 09, and the Three Party Coalition. Others with representatives elected are the Social Democrats, the Civic Democrats, the Communists, and the Czech Pirate Party.
Maths could become a compulsory subject in secondary school-leaving exams in the spring of 2019, a year earlier than expected, the Education Ministry told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. Maths traditionally proves to be the most difficult subject in the unified school-leaving exam. Nearly a quarter of students failed the subject this year. Education Minister Marcel Chládek previously said that it was necessary to educate teachers in new methods of teaching maths, in order to make the subject more attractive.
Strong winds caused problems around the Czech Republic on Tuesday night, damaging roofs, breaking off tree branches and bringing down power lines. Dozens of incidents required the assistance of fire fighters. The sudden spell of cold weather has brought the first snow in the mountain regions. In Krušné hory in the north-west of the country, fresh snow fell overnight in areas higher than 600 metres above sea level. Snow was also reported in the Šumava mountain range in the south-west and in the Krkonoše mountains in the north-west.
The Senate on Wednesday approved the abolition of direct payments in health care, introduced by the former centre-right government of Mirek Toplánek in 2008. Under the new bill, patients will no longer be required to pay 30 crowns for every visit to the doctor and a 30-crown fee for medical prescriptions in pharmacies. The only fee that will remain in effect is a 90-crown fee for emergency visits. The new bill should come into effect in January 2015.
Hundreds of rescue workers, firefighters, soldiers and police officers took part in an operation simulating a terrorist poison attack in the Prague metro in the early hours of Wednesday. The operation was to check out the response and readiness of the emergency forces to this kind of situation and to examine the coordination of various parts of the rescue system. The simulated attack started at 1A.M. on Wednesday, when the terrorists broke a bottle containing sarin on the platform of the Andel metro station, killing ten people and leaving dozens of others wounded. Zdeněk Schwarz, head of the Prague Ambulance Services, said he was happy with the course and results of the training.
Prague is to ban people from offering guided tours of the city from the area beneath the astronomical clock at the Old Town Hall. The prohibition is set to come into effect from November 5. The guided tour sellers will be allowed to ply their trade at other spots elsewhere on the historic Old Town Square, which attracts millions of tourists every year. The Prague authorities also want to introduce exams for would-be guides and to be allowed to re-examine those who currently hold licenses to give tours.
World number three Petra Kvitová lost her opening match at the prestigious season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore on Tuesday. The Czech lost 2-6 3-6 to Agniszka Radwanska of Poland after making numerous unforced errors in the late night White Group encounter. Kvitová, who is current Wimbledon champion, has only beaten another top 10 player once in her last six attempts. The other players in the White Group in Singapore are Maria Sharapova of Russia and Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki.
The Civic Democrats failed to have a discussion of Defence Minister Martin Stropnický’s involvement in a TV series included on the agenda of the Czech lower house on Tuesday. The party’s Jana Černochová said that the character played by Mr. Stropnický – who is an actor – in a TV crime show presented soldiers as drug dealers and murderers, thus harming the Czech Army’s image. For his part the ANO minister said TV broadcast fiction, not reality. The speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Jan Hamáček, had earlier described the latest episode of the show Kriminálka Anděl as spitting in the face of the country’s armed forces.
Car production in the Czech Republic looks set to reach a record 1.2 million in 2014 the president of the country’s Automotive Industry Association, Martin Jahn, said at a regional gathering of carmakers on Tuesday. That would represent year on year growth of over 6 percent and would be higher than the growth rate for Europe as a whole. Parts makers in the Czech Republic should record an even bigger year-on-year increase in output, said Mr. Jahn. The current record for car production is 1.195 million, registered in 2011.
Controls for the disease Ebola began at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport on Tuesday morning. Arriving passengers who have been in Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone in the previous 42 days have to have their temperature taken and undergo an interview at an anti-epidemic centre installed at the airport. If any indications of Ebola are detected, they will be taken to an infections clinic at the capital’s Na Bulovka hospital.