Wednesday, April 18, 2012

News 4.18.2012

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Copyright (c) 2012 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Wednesday, April 18th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* The junior coalition party Public Affairs has split as MPs quit en
masse following the departure of deputy chairwoman Karolina Peake.

* Prime Minister Petr Necas says the government has until Monday to
secure a comfortable majority or call early elections.

* The Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic is seeking state
recognition as a national minority.

* The Communist party is currently the second most popular in the
country, according to a new poll.

* Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will be meeting with his
American counterpart Hillary Clinton at a NATO meeting in Brussels on
Thursday.

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Junior coalition party collapses
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Public Affairs' members of parliament are quitting the party en masse
following the departure of deputy chairwoman Karolina Peake. Peake
announced Tuesday evening that she had withdrawn her membership from
Public Affairs, saying she disliked the destructive style with which
Public Affairs presents itself. Within hours, six other Public Affairs
members said they would join her in a new platform to support the
government: Transport Minister Pavel Dobes and Regional Development
Minister Kamil Jankovsky, as well as MPs Paggio, Navratilova,
Andrysova, Vacek, Sucha and Rusnok. With four other MPs having left the
party within the context of Vit Barta's corruption scandal and former
education minister Josef Dobes having quit last week, Public Affairs
has now lost more than half of its original parliamentarians, creating
an uncertain situation for the governing coalition.


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Necas: government has until Monday to secure 'comfortable majority'
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Prime Minister Petr Necas says the government has until Monday to
secure a comfortable majority or call early elections. As of Wednesday
morning, the number of MPs pledging support for the government was at
99. The prime minister declined to specify what number constituted a
"comfortable majority", made it clear that one or two votes in the
200-seat lower chamber was not enough. He also said that the cabinet
would refuse to work with the remainder of Public Affairs if Vit Barta,
who was convicted of bribery last week, remained in their
parliamentarians' club. While allowing that anyone who agreed with the
government's policies could be in the coalition, Mr Necas also
emphasised that not a single line in the coalition's policy statement
would be changed.


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Peake starting new political party
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A new political party is taking shape around the outgoing members of
Public Affairs. Karolina Peake told reporters on Wednesday that they
would be registering a new political body in the coming days. The
faction has not been given a name; Mrs Peake said only that it would be
a centre-right party and would hope to have a parliamentary club (which
requires a total of 10 MPs). She has declined to say how many MPs she
expects to join the new grouping. The ex-Public Affairs members held an
organisational meeting regarding the party on Wednesday.


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John: renegade MPs looking for personal gain
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Public Affairs' chairman Radek John said he was shocked by the
development and asserted that the renegade MPs around Karolina Peake
were focused on personal gain. Speaking from Warsaw where he is on a
business trip, John compared the situation to a 1998 split in the Civic
Democratic Party and accused the departing members of taking advantage
of his absence to create a party of opportunists. John and Peake
publically split two weeks ago over the party leaderships' instigation
of a government crisis.


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Independent MP Bem may not support the government
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While the government is counting its supporters, Former Prague mayor
and MP Pavel Bem has indicated that the government cannot fully rely on
his support for its programme. Having suspended his membership in the
ruling Civic Democratic Party over a corruption scandal, Mr Bem told
the daily Pravo on Wednesday that his support for the government would
most likely be on a case by case basis. The question, he said, would be
what the new government would offer voters without a mandate from them.
For 'right-wing' policies he will offer his support. The former mayor
was forced out of the party after the emergence of wiretap recordings
that suggested he allowed a construction tycoon undue influence over
city management.


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Vietnamese seeking state recognition as minority
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The Vietnamese community in the Czech Republic is seeking state
recognition as a national minority. The associations which applied for
the status are asking for a representative on the government's council
for national minorities. By law, national minorities comprise large
groups of Czech citizens who reside in the Czech Republic and differ
from others through their ethnicity, language, culture and traditions.
Vietnamese community is demographically the third largest minority in
the Czech Republic, with a population of over 17,000.


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Communists surpass Civic Democrats in poll
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The Communist party has surpassed the Civic Democrats for the first
time, becoming the second most popular party in the country, according
to a poll conducted by the CVVM polling agency. The survey suggests
that elections to the Chamber of Deputies would at present be won by
the opposition Social Democrats with over one-third of the vote,
followed by the Communists with one-fifth of the vote. Third and fourth
places would go to the Civic Democrats and TOP 09. Voter turnout would
be roughly two-thirds of the general public, the poll says.


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Schwarzenberg to meet with Secretary Clinton regarding Temelin
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Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg will be meeting with his American
counterpart Hillary Clinton at a NATO meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
The two are set to discuss the completion of the Temelin nuclear power
plant. The US company Westinghouse is one of several seeking to win the
multi-billon crown tender. On Wednesday, Defence Minister Alexandr
Vondra met with his US counterpart Leon Panetta; during the conference
the two will sign an agreement allowing Czech weapons manufacturers
access to Us Army tenders.


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Government approves draft state financial statement
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The government has approved a draft state financial statement,
according to which the budget posted a 142.8 billion crown deficit in
2011. The original plan anticipated a 135 billion budget deficit; the
difference was reportedly due to problems with drawing subsidies from
European funds. The Czech Republic's public finance deficit dropped to
3.1% of gross domestic product last year, while the government
anticipated a deficit of 3.7%. Prime Minister Necas noted that this was
no reason to rejoice, saying the public finance deficit was better
because of decreased investment activity on the part of municipalities
and universities. He added that it was clear that efforts aimed at
fiscal austerity must continue.


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Berdych wins first match in Monte Carlo Masters
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Tennis player Tomas Berdych won his first match in the Monte Carlo
Rolex Masters tournament, advancing to the third round. The world no. 7
defeated Croatian Marin Cilic in two sets, 7:6, 6:1. He will now face
the winner of the match between Kei Nishikori of Japan and Paul-Henri
Mathieu of France.


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Weather
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Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly sunny with
highs of around 16o Celsius.

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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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http://old.radio.cz/mp3/podcast/en/curraffrs/peake-quits-public-affairs.mp4http://img.radio.cz/pictures/ctk1204/peake4p.jpg
Peake quits Public Affairs
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Influential politician Karolina Peake dropped a political bombshell
late Tuesday when she announced that she was leaving the smallest party
in government to found a new faction. The move has cast doubt on
whether the centre-right coalition still has a majority in the lower
house needed to govern.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/peake-quits-public-affairs

http://old.radio.cz/mp3/podcast/en/curraffrs/domestic-vintners-outraged-over-planned-introduction-of-wine-tax.mp4http://img.radio.cz/pictures/ctk1204/vino1p.jpg
Domestic vintners outraged over planned introduction of wine tax
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In its ongoing effort to find ways of lowering the state budget
deficit, the Czech government has announced that it is planning to
introduce a new tax on wine. The country's winemakers are enraged and
believe that this step will lower the competitiveness of domestic
vintners, while giving foreign producers an edge on the Czech market.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/domestic-vintners-outraged-over-planned-introduction-of-wine-tax

http://old.radio.cz/mp3/podcast/en/marketplace/foreigners-no-longer-big-players-in-pragues-property-market.mp4http://img.radio.cz/pictures/r/bydleni/dum_bytovyp.jpg
Foreigners no longer big players in Prague's property market
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After years of growth, the real estate market in the Czech capital has
seen a slow but steady decline, with decreasing prices and many more
new listings having turned Prague property into a buyer's market. One
factor behind the change is waning interest from foreigners to invest
into real estate in the Czech capital. However, some parts of Prague
have become more attractive for Czechs and foreigners alike, while
others remain popular primarily with foreign clients.

http://radio.cz/en/section/marketplace/foreigners-no-longer-big-players-in-pragues-property-market


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