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Breakfast Brief – 25 March 2009

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Table of Contents

Topolánek’s cabinet loses no confidence vote
PM Mirek Topolánek’s cabinet lost a vote of no confidence Tuesday as four ruling-coalition MPs voted with the opposition to give them the needed 101 votes out of 197 to topple the government. Opposition leader Jiří Paroubek said the cabinet would remain in power until the Czech Republic finishes its six-month EU presidency. He ruled out that his ČSSD would govern together with ODS. He said new elections could not be held before autumn.
most Czech press

Commission: Vote will not affect EU presidency
The European Commission said it believes the Czech Republic will be able to sort out the effects of Tuesday’s no confidence vote and finish out its term as EU president. A number of EU countries expressed a similar belief.
most Czech press

PM seeking to form new government
Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has asked for a chance to put together a new government, saying it was the only option that would exclude the Communists from participating. Topolánek said he would talk to all “democratic parties” about forming a government but that he would not support what he called a “half-political” cabinet. He said early elections would need to be held if the new government failed to win political support.
HN 2, LN 1, 2

Police arrest student for planning bomb attack

Police on Thursday arrested a 17-year-old student from Nový Bydžov for allegedly planning to plant a bomb in his school. He faces a possible five years in jail. Police declined to publish details, but a spokesman for the police’s organised-crime unit (ÚOOZ), Pavel Hanták, said they had prevented a tragedy.
most Czech press

Future US diplomat speaks out against radar
Democratic congresswoman Ellen Tauscher, set to become US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s undersecretary for arms control and international security, said Monday the Bush administration’s planned anti-missile defence system would offer little or no protection to countries targeted by Iran. She said Iran does not have long-range missiles that could reach Europe or the US.
LN 9

Greens want new elections as soon as possible
Green Party leader and coalition partner Martin Bursík said he would like to see early elections held as soon as possible. The head of another coalition partner, KDU-ČSL’s Jiří Čunek, did not say when he would like to see fresh elections held.

ODS deputy group expels Tlustý
The ODS deputy group has expelled MP Vlastimil Tlustý, who helped bring down the government by joining with the opposition in a no confidence vote Tuesday.

Klaus vows to adhere to constitution after vote
President Václav Klaus said everything will happen in accordance with the constitution, following Tuesday’s no confidence vote in parliament. He declined to make further comment. PM Mirek Topolánek is expected to resign by the end of the week.

Aktuálně.cz: Kořistka bribery case is closed
Aktuálně.cz is reporting that the case involving former MP Zdeněk Kořistka has been closed. Last September the Olomouc High Court ruled that PM Mirek Topolánek’s friend Marek Dalík and lobbyist Jan Večerek offered a bribe to Kořistka in 2004 to vote against Stanislav Gross’s government.

Workers’ Party plans anti-EU protest
The extreme right-wing Workers’ Party is planning to protest a meeting of EU foreign ministers at the Hluboká nad Vltavou chateau on Friday. Police say they will close off the area around the grounds of the chateau.

Germans deported for ‘Heil Hitler’ salute
Three young Germans who police say gave a “Heil Hitler!” salute at a bar in Plzeň are to be deported from the country for 30 months. The Germans have agreed to leave the country voluntarily.
Právo 8

Ukraine welcomes EU’s Eastern Partnership
Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said Tuesday during a meeting with his Czech counterpart Václav Klaus in Prague that his country welcomes the EU’s Eastern Partnership project but that this cannot substitute for Ukraine’s eventual entry into the EU.

Inspectors find police criminality on the rise
Interior Ministry inspectors last year uncovered 253 incidents of suspected criminal offences among police officers. This was 15 more than in 2007.

Patria: Govt collapse will not shake up markets
Analysts from Patria Finance said the collapse of Mirek Topolánek’s cabinet would not likely have much effect on financial markets, though it might temporarily weaken the crown. The crown initially dropped 1.1% to CZK 27.20 against the euro after the vote but then recovered and closed at CZK 26.93. The Czech Confederation of Industry said Tuesday’s no confidence vote would worsen the country’s image and send a negative signal around the EU.
most Czech press

ČSSD may stop privatisations
HN reports that ČSSD is seeking to block the planned sales of Prague Airport and Czech Airlines and that yesterday’s no confidence vote would make it easier for the party to push the needed legislation through the lower house. ČSSD is also opposed to a controversial government tender seeking a bidder to clean up environmental damage going back to the communist period.
HN 3, MfD A2

Retail sales fall in January; grocery revenue higher
Retail sales fell 3.3% in January from a year ago, according to the Czech Statistical Office. Markéta Šichtařová from Next Finance said households cut spending because of uncertainty over the future. The drop was partially offset by a 2.5% rise in grocery revenue. Pavel Sobíšek from UniCredit Bank said retail represents a stabilising element in the Czech economy and that the numbers give hope that the drop in GDP this year will not be as bad as predicted.
HN 15, 16, Právo 19

Rent deregulation may be delayed
The parliamentary commission for public administration has recommended the lower house approve a measure that would delay plans to fully deregulate rents by two years, until 2012.

Govt earmarks billions for unemployed
The government has set aside an additional CZK 6 billion in unemployment support in response to the global economic crisis. The budget had already allocated CZK 5 billion for unemployment benefits, and the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs now expects the final bill to reach CZK 11.5 billion.

EU to spend CZK 12 billion on Czech Railways
Czech Railways will get CZK 12 billion in EU subsidies to cover the costs of modernisation. The money will be used to upgrade four railway corridors.

Transport fund wants more state money
The State Fund for Transport Infrastructure has asked the government to increase its subsidies by CZK 8.4 billion from the current CZK 36.65 billion.
Právo 19

More companies appealing antimonopoly rulings
Institutions and companies are increasingly choosing to appeal rulings by the Czech antimonopoly office. The number of complaints filed with the district court in Brno, where the office is located, rose to 96 last year, a nearly 80% increase year-on-year.

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