Thursday, December 13, 2012

News 12.13.2012

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

News Thursday, December 13th, 2012

By: Masha Volynsky

* The new Defense Minister Karolina Peake has dismissed three
top-ranking officials at the ministry on the first day in her new

* The Supreme Administrative Court rules in favor of allowing Jana
Bobosikova to register as the ninth presidential candidate.

* Students in Ceske Budejovice have announced a hunger strike to
protest against the Communist Party's councilwoman for education in the
regional government.

* Presidential candidate Milos Zeman has taken the lead for the first
time, according to the latest opinion poll.

* The Czech Republic is in 17th place among EU members, according to
its GDP per capita in 2011.

Peake fires three top officials after first day as minister

The newly appointed Defense Minister Karolina Peake (LIDEM) announced a
number of personnel changes at the ministry on Thursday after
officially taking up the post the day before. Ms Peake dismissed the
first deputy defense minister, General Vlastimil Picek, the armaments
director Pavel Bulant and an advisor. The new defense minister said
that she has offered Mr Picek another position at the ministry, but
added that she believes that top positions at the defense ministry
should be occupied by civilians. Shadow Defense Minister Social
Democrat Jan Hamacek criticized Peake for making major changes after
announcing on Wednesday that she will not do so.

Court lets Bobosikova register as presidential candidate

The Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Thursday that the Interior
Ministry should register Jana Bobosikova as a presidential candidate,
after the ministry rejected her application earlier citing an
inadequate number of verifiable signatures. The court rejected the
appeals of Tomio Okamura and Vladimir Dlouhy whose applications for
candidacy were also previously rejected. There are now nine candidates
who will be vying for the presidential post in the January elections.

Students to protest Communists with a hunger strike

Sixteen students from high schools in Ceske Budejovice will hold a
24-hour hunger strike early next week to protest the naming of the
Communist Party member Vitezslava Baborova as the regional councilwoman
for education in South Bohemia. Students and teachers in a number of
South Bohemian cities held street protests against the regional
government coalition between the Social Democrats and the Communists in
November, and have met with the regional governor, Social Democrat Jiri
Zimola. But the regional council has not responded to their demands to
put an end to the coalition with the Communist Party. The students have
said they will begin the hunger strike at 6 p.m. on Monday and will
continue for 24-hours. A street protest is also scheduled for Tuesday
in Ceske Budejovice, which will coincide with the one-year anniversary
of the death of former president and dissident Vaclav Havel.

Central vehicle registry collapses in a number of cities again

The central vehicle registry in Prague, as well as in Pardubice,
Karvina, Kladno and Brno, has collapsed after the system was
electronically connected to the government databases of people and
property addresses. The vehicle registration system has had numerous
functionality problems ever since it was launched this summer. The
current outage means that the vehicle registration office is unable to
complete most of the visitors' requests. During this time of the year,
250 to 300 people go to the registration office daily. The former
Transport Minister Pavel Dobes was pressured to step down from his post
due to problems with the central vehicle registry.

Czech Republic will not join the EU banking union

Prime Minister Petr Necas has said that the Czech Republic will not
join the European Banking Union, which was agreed on on Wednesday night
by European heads of state. According to Mr Necas' statement, the Czech
Republic has no reason to do so yet. Sweden, Poland and Hungary are
also considering not joining the union at this point.

Vladimir Franz wins mock student presidential election

In a mock presidential election held at nearly 450 Czech secondary
schools this week, Vladimir Franz received over 40 percent of the vote.
Jan Fischer, a favourite in the polls ahead of January's real
presidential election, came in second with some 19 percent of the mock
student vote, while Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg finished third
with more than 14 percent. Party candidates - Civic Democrat Premysl
Sobotka and Social Democrat Jiri Dienstbier, finished last.
Commentators believe the results reflect deep mistrust for political
parties in the society. The mock election was organized by the human
rights group People in Need to educate students and familiarize them
with democratic elections.

Civic Democrats want to create study abroad scholarships for students

The Civic Democrats want to include a proposal to provide scholarships
for Czech students to attend top universities abroad in the new
coalition agreement. The Hospodarske noviny daily reported that
according to the proposal the scholarships would be given to high
achievers who will be interested in studying subjects that are useful
for public administration. Experts estimate that the government could
send up to five students a year to study abroad, which would cost
around ten million crowns from the annual budget.

Zeman ahead in the polls for the first time

Results of a poll by the PPF Factum agency that were released on
Thursday show Milos Zeman as the leading presidential candidate, for
the first time since January. According to the poll Mr Zeman would
receive 25.6 percent of the vote, with Jan Fischer trailing closely
behind with 25 percent. Mr Fischer was ahead in all the previous polls,
but also by a relatively small margin. According to the current Factum
poll, vice-chairman of the Social Democratic Party Jiri Dienstbier is
in third place with 10.6 percent.

Photography exhibit presents all the Czech presidents

The Vaclav Lidl gallery in Prague's Vinohrady opened an exhibit of
photographs of Czech presidents, from Tomas G. Masaryk to the current
presidential race. The exhibit includes photographs by famous
photographers and some taken by amateurs. In total, some 11 thousand
pictures are on display at the gallery .

Czech Republic jumps by one slot in GDP ranking

The Czech Republic took 17th place among EU member countries in terms
of its GDP per capita for last year, according to figures released by
Eurostat. It improved by one place from the previous year, moving ahead
of Greece. The Czech Republic has lower GDP per capita than three of
the 12 newest EU member states - Cyprus, Malta and Slovenia.


It should be overcast and partly cloudy in the upcoming days with high
day temperatures between -5 and -1 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Czechs curb their Christmas spending amid growing financial concerns

With Christmas just around the corner the hustle and bustle in Prague's
streets and shops has visibly intensified. Yet behind the bright
lights, the ever-present advertisements and Christmas carols the mood
is slightly more sober this Christmas, reflecting the deepening
recession and bleak outlooks on the job market. Czechs are enjoying the
Christmas atmosphere but they are spending less on presents and are far
less willing to take out loans for exotic Christmas holidays or buy
things on lease as they have been doing for years.
Supreme Administrative Court gives presidential elections green light,
but doubts remain

The Supreme Administrative Court on Thursday upheld the validity of a
law on direct presidential elections, but found fault with the way that
the interior ministry had interpreted one of its articles. Although the
ruling is a victory for presidential hopeful Jana Bobosikova, doubts
regarding ambiguities in the hastily-drafted legislation remain, with
the chairman of the court himself questioning whether the long-awaited
popular vote should go ahead.
Karel Schwarzenberg - a prince with his eye on the Castle

The chairman of TOP 09, Karel Schwarzenberg is one of three candidates
for president nominated by a party in Parliament. The blue-blooded Mr.
Schwarzenberg is - at 75 - also the oldest of those in the running. But
his closeness to the late Vaclav Havel and clean image could stand him
in good stead in the polls.

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