News ANO party surging ahead in popularity ratings
The ANO party of the ruling coalition has surged ahead in popularity ratings. According to a survey conducted by the polling agency Aisa the party would now get 31 percent voter support, as compared to the 18.6 percent it won in last year’s general elections. The Social Democrats, which won the elections with just over 20 percent of the vote, would now only get 16 percent, followed by the Communist Party with 11.5 percent and TOP 09 with 11 percent of the vote. The Civic Democrats would get 7 percent and the junior party in the ruling coalition would get 5.5 only just crossing the 5 percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house.
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Anti-nuclear organizations in Upper Austria have jointly filed a complaint against Czech plans for the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant by another two reactors, the APA news agency reports. The news was confirmed by Upper Austrian Environment Minister Rudi Anschober who said that all possible steps would be taken to prevent the project. Anti-nuclear organizations on the Czech side –South Bohemian Mothers Against Temelín, the Civic Initiative for Environmental Protection and Calla – have also filed a complaint against the State Institute for Nuclear Safety for approving the expansion plans. For the present time the project has been put on hold for financial reasons.
The Food Inspection Office has issued a health warning about a sesame paste sold on the Czech market which was found to contain salmonella bacteria. The product, sold under the name Alnatura Tahin Bio Sesammus, sells in the Globus supermarket chain.
Petr Václav's social drama "The Way Out" (Cesta ven) won the fifth annual Czech Film Critics’ Awards on Saturday night, picking up prizes for Best Film, Best Direction and Best Screenplay. Klaudia Dudová, who is not professionally trained, won the award for Best Actress for her portrayal of a young Roma woman seeking security and a better life. The award for Best Documentary went to director Martin Dušek and producer Kamila Zlatušková for their story about people who customize cars, "Into the Clouds We Gaze" (K oblakům vzhlížíme). The award for Discovery of the Year was given to Jiří Mádl for his directorial debut "To See the Sea" (Pojedeme k moři).
Meteorologists have issued a snow warning for Moravia and Silesia. Heavy snowfall is expected overnight with up to 20 centimetres of fresh snow in places. Drivers have been warned to expect snowdrifts and the fact that less frequented roads may be impassable. Night time temperatures should fall to minus 6 degrees C and day temperatures are expected to remain below freezing point.
The newly elected head of the Green Party Jana Drápalová has said she wants to unite the party and lead it to success in next year’s regional elections. Ms. Drápalová, who is mayor of the Nový Lískovec district in Brno, said the party must convince people that Green solutions are beneficial and would improve the quality of life for them and their children. Her chief rival for the post Petr Štepanek was elected deputy chairman.
The Green Party elected Jana Drápalova party leader at a two-day conference in Brno over the weekend.Ms.Drapalova was elected by 115 out of 198 votes. The party has been without a proper leader since Ondřej Liška resigned as its head in June of last year following the Greens poor showing in elections to the European Parliament, where they won a mere 3.7 percent of the votes. The Green Party participated in the centre-right coalition government between 2007 and 2009, but their influence on Czech politics has been marginal since and they failed to win a single seat in the lower house in the last general election.
Prague mayor moves to dispel concern over possible reintroduction of paper coupons in city transport
Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová has moved to dispel public concern with regard to the possible re-introduction of paper coupons in the city’s public transport. The mayor said that all present holders of Opencard could rest assured that nothing would change for them and that if Prague City Hall were to re-introduce paper coupons for a certain period, as a last resort, it would only be for new clients. City Hall only has licensing rights to issue another 60,000 Opencards after which it would be forced to resort to paper coupons. According to Prague City Hall the 60,000 Opencards should last until mid-summer by which time the leadership hopes to have found a solution to the drawn-out dispute over rights with the company eMoneyServices.
Over 500 foreign guests, including 30 heads of parliament, diplomats and cultural figures are expected to take part in next week’s commemorative events marking the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz at the end of World War II. The events include an international forum on anti-Semitism and extremism to be held at Prague Castle on Monday and a tribute to Holocaust victims in Terezin, north Bohemia on Tuesday. Extensive security measures involving hundreds of police will be in place at both venues.
A referendum on a blanket ban on gambling in the city of Zlín has been declared invalid due to a low turnout. Only 11.7 of the city’s inhabitants came to cast their vote with the vast majority of them supporting the ban. A thirty-five percent turn-out was required for the vote to be valid. Like many other towns in the country Zlín has been taking steps to curb the number of slot machines and gambling houses in the city.
The quality of air in the industrial regions of Moravia and Silesia is reported to have improved significantly in the past 24 hours, prompting the authorities to call off a high smog alert. The amount of industrial dust and exhaust fumes in the air is now within set limits at most monitoring stations and weather conditions should help improve the situation further. Air pollution is a serious problem in the eastern part of the country aggravated by the fact that many inhabitants in the region use coal for heating.