Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Svoboda elected mayor of Prague

ČTK |
1 December 2010

Prague, Nov 30 (CTK) - The city assembly elected Bohuslav Svoboda, the Civic Democrats (ODS) leader in the recent local elections, as the new mayor of Prague Tuesday, as expected.

Svoboda was also supported by the Social Democrats (CSSD), the ODS's coalition partner in Prague.

The coalition also smoothly pushed through its candidates for deputy mayors, Josef Nosek, Ivan Kabicky (both ODS), Karel Brezina and Antonin Weinert (both CSSD), and five councillors, also representatives of the two coalition parties.

In the open vote Svoboda was supported by 33 assemblymen, 27 assemblymen voted against him and two abstained from the vote.

He received support from all 20 assemblymen for the ODS and from 13 of the CSSD's 14 assemblymen, except for Jiri Dienstbier jr., who is opposed to the ODS-CSSD coalition project and who did not take part in the vote.

Of the 26 assemblymen for the opposition TOP 09, 25 voted against Svoboda, as did two of the three Communist (KSCM) assemblymen.

TOP 09 election leader Zdenek Tuma and one KSCM assemblyman abstained from the vote.

After electing Svoboda, the assembly did not vote on Tuma, whom TOP 09 proposed for mayor, anymore.

The city assembly's constituent meeting Tuesday was accompanied by a demonstration of hundreds of Praguers who protested against the controversial coalition deal of what many consider scandal-ridden ODS and CSSD branches in Prague, that ousted the election-winning TOP 09 to opposition.

Bohuslav Svoboda, 66, is a gynaecologist by profession. He has worked as head physician of the gynaecological and obstetric clinic of Prague's Kralovske Vinohrady teaching hospital since 1990.

In 1992-1998 he was the first president of the Czech Doctors' Chamber (CLK).

He joined the ODS this September after the party's Prague branch chose him as number one election candidate.

In 1998 Svoboda unsuccessfully ran for the centre-right Quad-Coalition in the Senate elections, challenging ODS senator Premysl Sobotka in the Liberec constituency, north Bohemia.

In the city council Svoboda will be responsible for finance, security, external relations, legislation and science and research.

In his emotional speech before the election, Svoboda promised a new style of political culture and the relations between the government and the opposition in Prague.

"I cannot promise nothing else than blood, tears and sweat," Svoboda said amid the protesters' whistling, citing the famous sentence of Winston Churchill.

He said Prague must be lead to overcome the period of economic crisis. It must not allow its debts to further rise. On the contrary, the debts must be paid, Svoboda said.

He called on not the assemblymen to support the coalition's programme of openness, fight against corruption, responsible financial management and social consideration.

Tuma said irrespective of Tuesday's election result it is necessary to change the arrogant style of the Prague hall management. Openness, transparency and crack down on corruption are needed, he said.

Of the newly-elected deputy mayors, Brezina received the largest number of votes, 36 out of 62, as he was also backed by the three Communists. Brezina is to be the first deputy mayor.

Weinert was supported by 34 assemblymen and Nosek and Kabicky by 33 each.

Apart from the mayor and four deputy mayors, the 11-seat city council includes councillors Aleksandra Udzenija, Radek Lohynsky (both ODS), Petr Dolinek, Lukas Kaucky and Lukas Plachy (all CSSD).

The coalition offer the last, vacant seat in the council to Tuma, who rejected it.

As the council should have 11 members, the ODS proposed its Prague branch head Boris Stastny for the vacant post. Stastny said he accepted the nomination only for formal grounds, to enable the council to start working. He will resign as councillor on Wednesday, he said.

In the 63-seat Prague assembly, TOP 09 has 26 seats, the ODS 20, the CSSD 14 and the KSCM three seats.

The "grand coalition" deal between the ODS and the CSSD, which are the senior ruling and the arch-rival senior opposition party on the national level, has raised protests of Praguers and criticism from TOP 09 as disrespecting the result of the mid-October local polls.

Even the ODS and CSSD national leaders, Petr Necas and Bohuslav Sobotka, have distanced from it as an incorrect and unfortunate decision of their respective parties' branches in Prague.

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