News Talks on new civil service law remain deadlocked over “super bureaucrat”
Talks between government representatives and opposition leaders on the shape of a new civil service law on Monday failed to break the deadlock over the main point of dispute –the creation of an all-powerful top civil servant. Under the proposed amendment the official tasked with managing the new civil service would have a seven year term in office and a position proofed against political interference. The coalition parties, who insist on the creation of this post, say it is essential to the process of de-politicizing the civil service, while the opposition parties claim that this position would create a fortress for a bureaucratic elite which would not serve the public but its own best interests.
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Two tunnels on the north Bohemian D8 motorway between Prague and the German border have been closed over problems with their lighting systems, the Czech road directorate said. The Panenská and Libouchec tunnels near Ústí nad Labem were closed at 5:30 PM on Saturday, and traffic in both directions is being diverted to alternate routes. It’s not clear when the tunnels will reopen.
The ANO party in the southern city of České Budějovice has struck a deal with TOP 09, the Christian Democrats and the local grouping Citizens for Budějovice to form a coalition at the city hall, the local ANO party leader, Jiří Svoboda said. ANO won the local elections there two weeks ago; the Social Democrats, who came in second, were excluded from the coalition over their exaggerated demands, according to Mr Svoboda.
Despite an overall improvement in the quality of air in the Czech Republic, more than half of the country’s population is affected by air pollution, according to a report on air pollution in 2013 released by the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute. The report says that at least one emission limit is regularly exceed on 17.5 percent of the country’s territory, an area inhabited by over 54 percent of the population. The north-eastern Ostrava region is worst affected, followed by the urban agglomerations of Prague and Brno.
Nine months after its appointment, the Czech government is stable and can rely on sufficient support in Parliament, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in a statement marking a year since a snap general election. The government’s stability allows it to undertake unpopular measures including labour market and education reforms, the prime minister said. The government has successfully launched a public administration reform but should improve tax collecting and curb crime, according to Mr Sobotka.
The television film Osmy (Wisdom Teeth or Eights), produced by Czech Television, has won the Prix Europa 2014 award for best TV drama. The film, set in communist Czechoslovakia in 1980, follows the main character’s personal as well as political misfortunes. The jury said it was hilarious, and created black but warm-hearted absurd humour. The film is to premiere on Czech TV in December.
Daylight saving time in the Czech Republic and other European countries ends at 3 AM on Sunday when clocks go back 60 minutes. The change will affect 13 night trains which will stop and wait for an hour at the stations to depart according to their regular schedules. Night public transport connections in Prague will not be affected by the change as they will complete their routes according to daylight saving time.
Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is among those set to receive Czech state decoration on October 28, the country’s Independence Day, the daily Mladá fronta dnes reported. Mr Fico will be decorated for his contribution to friendship between the Czech and Slovak nations, the paper said, adding that Mr Zeman and Mr Fico are personal friends. The president’s office has not released the list of people set to receive the state honours on Tuesday but according to media reports, the president will among others decorate Sir Nicholas Winton who saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Holocaust, and filmmaker Robert Sedláček who made a documentary about Mr Zeman before he became president.
Sparta Prague and Slovan Bratislava face sanctions from UEFA, the governing body of European football, following crowd violence during their Europa League tie in Bratislava on Thursday night. The game was suspended for 40 minutes shortly before half time after violent exchanges occurred between fans of the teams. Sparta eventually won the game 3-0. The hosts now face stadium closure for failing to prevent the disturbances while Sparta’s fans could be banned from travelling to their team’s away games. Both clubs have condemned the incident. A verdict by UEFA’s disciplinary committee is expected next week, the Czech FA said.
President Miloš Zeman is in China on the first official visit by a Czech head of state to the country in 10 years. Mr Zeman on Friday visited a trade show in Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, and met with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai to discuss plans to launch a direct flight connection between their countries, a spokesman for the Czech president said. Mr Zeman is accompanied by a large business delegation which includes representatives of Czech industrial companies, universities, wine producers, legal firms, railway operators, and others. The Czech head of state is scheduled to meet with the Chinese president and prime minister on Monday, the last day of his Chinese visit.
A man convicted of last year’s murder of an influential Social Democrat politician has been sentenced to 17.5 years in prison. The court said that the man, a former army officer, gunned down Roman Houska in front of his home in the northern city of Ústí nad Labem in what looked like an execution, and rejected the shooter’s claims that he acted in self-defence. Media reports described the killing as a contract murder but the court said no motive had been established. However, if new evidence emerges, the authorities will act accordingly, the court said.