News Czech MEPs performance mediocre, says study

28-04-2014 17:16 | Daniela Lazarová

The performance of Czech members of the European Parliament is below average, according to the results of a study published by the European Values think tank. Out of an overall 22 Czech MEPs, Oldřich Vlasák of the Civic Democrats, Zuzana Roithová of the Christian Democratic Party and Olga Sehnalová of the Social Democrats were rated the most active, while the work morale of the others was mediocre to poor. The study evaluated the MEP's participation in meetings, the number of tabled resolutions, and the frequency of their speeches. It also involved a comparison with the work of MEPs from other countries.

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President rates government favorably

20-10-2014 09:54 | Jan Velinger

Czech President Miloš Zeman rated the Czech government favorably in an interview on Sunday, telling commercial broadcaster TV Nova that Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had been successful in keeping the coalition together, which he saw as a key role. He also the current government had given people 'hope'. At the same time, the president said he could envisage ANO leader and finance minister Andrej Babiš as prime minister as well. Commenting on the sharp words traded at times by Mr Babiš and Mr Sobotka, the president made clear he knew of no coalition where occasional clashes were uncommon. 

Prague suffers partial blackout in early hours of Monday

20-10-2014 09:40 | Jan Velinger

A blackout hit parts of the Czech capital a minute after midnight and some 100,000 homes were left without electricity. Affected were Prague 4 and parts of Prague 2 and 10. The blackout, caused by a technical failure at a substation in Chodov, also left the Thomayer Hospital in Krč briefly without power. In all, the blackout affected about a quarter of the city, the Czech News Agency reported. 

Tennis: Berdych clinches 10th career title

19-10-2014 18:25 | Jan Velinger

Czech men's tennis No.1 Tomáš Berdych won his tenth career title in Stockholm on Sunday, defeating Bulgarian opponent Grigor Dimitrov. Berdych won by a score of 5:7, 6:4, 6:4. The win keeps open Berdych's chances of clinching one of the remaining slots in the upcoming ATP World Finals. 

Police experts continue search at munitions depot

19-10-2014 14:23 | Jan Velinger

Police pyrotechnics experts have gotten within 300 metres of the epicenter of a blast which destroyed a munitions depot, using a remote control drone and heavy equipment. For the second day they are investigating the site in the village of Vrbětice in South Moravia. Equipment they are using includes an armored vehicle and a special firefighters' 'tank'. Two people have been missing since the blast on Thursday and are feared dead. 

President suggests candidates' personalities, not political affiliation, were important for voters

19-10-2014 14:13 | Jan Velinger

Czech President Miloš Zeman maintains that candidates' personalities rather than political affiliation played a deciding role in the second round of the Senate elections. He expressed the view on Sunday through his spokesman Jiří Ovčáček. The head-of-state also suggested that a lower voter turnout in the Senate elections was par for course, saying that voters lost interest if their candidate failed to make it to the second round. 

Schwarzenberg admits changes needed in TOP 09

19-10-2014 13:20 | Jan Velinger

The head of TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg, has reflected on his party's failure to win a single seat in the Senate elections. He promised that the party would begin internal reforms at once, but also made clear the current leadership would remain until a leadership conference was held next year. There is speculation that Mr Schwarzenberg, who is 76, is planning on stepping down. Last week, members of TOP 09's Prague branch quit the party following a long period of infighting. The party lost in Prague, coming second in the communal elections. 

Pehe: Christian Democrats in good position to become main right-wing party

19-10-2014 12:53 | Jan Velinger

Analysts also see the Senate results as strong confirmation that the Christian Democrats have returned as a significant political force. On Saturday, they clinched four seats; in addition, three Christian Democrat/Green candidates also won. Political analyst Jiří Pehe told Rádio Impuls the party was well-positioned and could become the main force on the political right; he suggested the party had done well because its priorities and values were well-understood by voters. The other parties on the right side of the spectrum, the Civic Democrats and TOP 09, have lost support since the collapse of the centre-right government of Petr Něcas. 

Analysts: Senate elections a 'win' for ruling coalition

19-10-2014 09:57 | Jan Velinger

Political analysts are characterizing the elections to the Czech Senate as mainly a win for the country's ruling coalition. Experts contacted by the Czech News Agency suggested in the past Senate elections had often seen protest votes, which they said had not been the case this time around. The ruling centre-left coalition of the Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats won enough seats to secure a comfortable majority in the upper chamber of Parliament. The STEM polling agency's Jan Hartl called the results a 'positive signal' for the government. At the same time, the election saw a record-low turnout by voters, leading some to again question the necessity of the upper house. The big loser in the Senate election, political analysts suggest, is the right-of-centre party TOP 09, which failed to win a single seat in four races in the second round. 

Czech mountaineer dies in Austrian Alps

19-10-2014 09:39 | Jan Velinger

A Czech mountaineer died on Saturday in the Austrian Alps. The 40-year-old climber fell to his death when a safety device snapped on a descent on Reichenspitze. The mountaineer was descending with a fellow climber after having successfully reached the 3,303 metre high peak. At the time of the accident he and the other climber had been making their way down to the Rainbachkees glacier. The other climber eventually reached a mountain chalet on his own to inform the authorities. A helicopter was sent to the scene of the fall; there was nothing medics could do for the mountaineer. 

Coalition parties win 18 seats in Senate elections to maintain majority

18-10-2014 18:00 updated | Jan Velinger

Three parties in the country's centre-left coalition won 18 out of 27 seats up for grabs in the Senate elections. The coalition will enjoy a majority of 46 in the 81-member upper chamber of Parliament. The Social Democrats clinched 10 seats, the ANO movement four, and the Christian Democrats four. All the same, the position of the Social Democrats weakened: until now, the leftist party had dominated the Senate, they now have 35 seats overall.

The opposition Civic Democrats, Mayors and Independents (STAN) and the Greens won two seats each. The small Party of Citizens´ Rights and the Party of Entrepreneurs won one seat each.

The vote turnout was a record low, below 17 percent.

Notable personalities who won their senate race include the former rector of Charles University Václav Hampl, the founder of the Our Child Foundation Zuzana Baudyšová, the Minister for Human Rights Jiří Dienstbier, and lottery firm billionaire Ivo Valenta. 



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