News Mayor Hudeček will head TOP 09 candidates list in Prague communal elections
Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček will head the candidates list for the centre-right TOP 09 in communal elections in the autumn, the party’s leadership announced on Monday. Hudeček edged the head of the party’s Prague branch Jiří Vávra by three votes. The decision on who to nominate was preceded by heated debate, the Czech News Agency reported; the 1st spot on the list, if successful in the election, would deliver Mr Hudeček the mayoral seat. In recent days, some TOP 09 members pushed for national party leader Karel Schwarzenberg to head the list, but the former presidential candidate and former foreign minister declined.
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An unprecedented 60 percent of the State Cinematography Fund’s annual budget to support feature Czech film production is set to go to one movie, the news site Respekt.cz reported. Some CZK 15 million from the state agency’s CZK 25 million budget has been allocated to a film about the black-and-white era actress Lída Baarová by director Filip Renč. Respekt wrote that the decision to award the support to the film was taken despite the fact it did poorly in an evaluation of all projects submitted. Mr. Renč last month received a high state honour from President Miloš Zeman, for whom he had made a campaign ad.
The Czech Republic’s state secretary for European affairs, Tomáš Prouza, has used Twitter to disparage UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s plans to cut immigration. Evidently angered by Mr. Cameron’s suggestion that immigrants could only receive benefits after four years in the UK, Mr. Prouza on Friday tweeted a picture of Czech airman who served in the RAF during WWII with the words “These Czechs ‘worked’ in the #UK for less than four years. No benefits for them?” By Saturday morning his comment and photo had been retweeted around 1,500 times.
A close aide to President Miloš Zeman says the head of state is not indifferent to a steep fall in his public trust ratings. Speaking to Czech Television, the head of the Office of the President’s Foreign Affairs Department, Hynek Kmoníček, said Mr. Zeman would have to think about his communication strategy in order to explain his aims more clearly. A poll released last week suggested that trust in the president had fallen by a record 21 percent in one month following comments he made on China and Russia and an expletive-dotted live radio interview. Mr. Kmoníček said his boss’s “strong statements” occasionally overshadowed other important parts of his agenda that also merited attention.
Prague City Hall will not seek arbitration over the city’s controversial Opencard project, Mayor Adriana Krnáčová said. City Hall officials were planning to take the owner of the Opencard application, the firm EMS, to arbitration over the city’s alleged debt to the company. However, they will now wait for a court ruling in the case, Ms Krnáčová said. Since its introduction in 2006, the Opencard project, originally conceived as a smart multipurpose card, has cost the city some 1.2 billion crowns, and now serves as a public transport pass in the city. Five former City Hall employees have been sentenced on corruption charges in relation with the project.
A bridge on the D1 motorway in Ostrava is only safe for cars, vans and other vehicles of up to 3.6 tonne, a spokesman for the Czech Roads and Motorways Directory said, quoting the results of a mathematical analysis of the structure’s capacity. The bridge was built in 2010; however, after structural problems appeared on two bridges on the motorway several months ago, the directorate imposed a speed limit and prohibited trucks from entering the bridge.
The Czech Union of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners would like more young people to join their ranks in order to stop the steady decline in their numbers, the head of the union, Jan Hinterholzinger, said. The organization now has some 150,000 members, down from around 250,000 in the year 2000. Their numbers were even higher during communism when allotment gardening was one of the most popular pastimes. The average age of the union’s members is now between 60 and 70. The gardeners’ union would also like Parliament to pass legislation that would recognize gardening as a publicly beneficial activity, a status gardeners enjoy in several other EU countries.
The number of internet users in the Czech Republic exceeded seven million in October, a survey by the NetMonitor agency has found. Since last year, the Czech online population has grown by 200,000. The survey also found that 51 percent of Czech internet users are men while the most active users are in the 35 to 44 age group. The number of people accessing websites from their mobile devices has exceeded three million, an 8-percent increase since September.
The Czech economy grew by 2.4 percent in the third quarter of the year, according to revised figures released by the Czech Statistics Office on Friday. Compared to the previous quarter, the country’s gross domestic product grew by 0.4 percent. Both figures are 0.1 percentage points higher than previous estimates. The Czech economic growth is stable, bigger than the EU average, and has a relatively sound base, the Statistics Office said.
The public broadcaster Czech TV has been accused of editing an address by President Miloš Zeman. In reporting about Mr Zeman’s speech at a conference marking 25 years of capitalism in the country earlier this month, Czech TV edited out a line in which the president criticized the businessman Zdeněk Bakala, the owner of a major mining firm and a large media company. Czech TV CEO Petr Dvořák rejected speculation that the president was censored, instead blaming an “editorial error”. A spokesman for President Zeman has however accused Czech TV of acting like communist-era censors.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has criticized plans to increase the salaries of lawmakers and other public officials by 14 percent. Mr Sobotka told the news website novinky.cz on Friday the wage hike should correspond to the growth of salaries in the public sector which is some 3.5 percent. Coalition leaders said on Thursday they would reconsider the proposed 14-percent surge in public officials’ salaries after the plans came under criticism from the public as well as some opposition MPs.