Books on Czech Republic
% of GDP
Update No: 106 - (23/03/06)
Electoral season opens
Elections to parliament are looming in the Czech Republic. The next election to
the Chamber of Representatives is scheduled for June 2nd and June 3rd. In the
June 2002 ballot, the Czech Social Democratic Party (CSSD) elected 70 lawmakers
to the 200-member Chamber of Representatives.
They are due two months after those in Hungary in April, which are on a
knife-edge. But the Czech result seems to be a foregone conclusion. The
governing CSSD looks certain to lose office.
In July 2004, Prime Minister, Vladimir Spidla, resigned from his post following
a poor showing from the CSSD in the elections to the European Parliament. Social
Democratic interim leader Stanislav Gross took over, but resigned last year
following allegations regarding the origin of funds borrowed to buy an apartment
in Prague. CSSD vice-chairman Jiri Paroubek-who served as regional development
minister-formed a new coalition administration in April 2005.
ODS Stable, Social Democrats Drop
The Civic Democratic Party (ODS) of Mirek Topolanek is still the most popular
political organization in the Czech Republic, according to a poll by STEM. 28.6
per cent of respondents would vote for the ODS in this year's election to the
Chamber of Representatives.
CSSD is second with 24.5 per cent, followed by the Communist Party of Bohemia
and Moravia (KSCM) with 15.3 per cent, the Christian and Democratic Union -
Czech People's Party (KDU-CSL) with 6.4 per cent, and the Green Party (SZ) with
5.6 per cent.
The poll shows the Greens above the five per cent threshold, which would make
the party eligible for seats under the country's proportional representation
system. SZ chairman Martin Bursik declared, "I'm very pleased. I was afraid
that people may have given up their interest in politics, but it is turning out
that it is not the case."
President Vaclav Klaus has vetoed a bill that would have given same-sex couples
registered partnership status. Paroubek disagreed with the head of state's
decision, declaring, "It is sad that the president has been unable to
overcome his prejudices to a minority of the Czech population and does not want
to allow the elimination of their discrimination." The veto could be
overruled by the legislative branch.
Culture Minister Jandak is CSSD´s maverick
Culture Minister Vitezslav Jandak is a maverick of the senior ruling CSSD,
who nominated him for the post, despite being without any party affiliation, who
might just retrieve the fortunes of the government for all that. Jandak has been
the minister since last August when he replaced late Pavel Dostal (CSSD). He is
an actor by profession and he was a director of a children's film festival.
It was Paroubek who chose unaffiliated Jandak as minister. He must have thought
that he could attract those hostile to party politics and their avatars, the
party placemen, but open to an unusual personality.
Indeed, CSSD politicians do not want to criticise him as Jandak is the most
popular Czech politician. "Jandak makes some ministers feel really
desperate. He presents absolutely unprepared issues that he does not consult
with anybody," a source close to the cabinet told the paper, Lidove noviny
(LN), on March 8th.
The source said that Jandak for example announced all of a sudden that he is
against the liquidation of the pig farm located in Lety on the spot of a former
World War Two concentration camp for Romanies though the government has an
opposite stance, the paper said.
The source said that Paroubek CSSD tried to convince Jandak in this, yet Jandak
is not going to change his opinion, the paper writes. "Sometimes I'm really
unhappy because of his comments," lower house chairman Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD)
Jandak is not aware of any criticism against him. "Social Democracy is able
to accept my opinions," he told the daily.
But the case of lower house foreign committee head Vladimir Lastuvka (CSSD)
shows this is not true, L N reports.
Lastuvka strongly disagreed when Jandak promised that the Czech Republic would
ratify a treaty with the Vatican by the elections, to be held on June 2-3.
"This was absolutely unrealistic. Jandak did not consult it with anybody. I
can't understand how anybody could assume that the lower house would change its
mind in this electoral period after it had rejected the ratification,"
It was CSSD acting head Bohuslav Sobotka who had to correct Jandak´s statement
about the ratification of the treaty with the Vatican, the paper says.
The Social Democrat senators were similarly shocked when Jandak said that the
Senate seems useless to him. CSSD senator Alena Gajduskova said that she rebuked
him on the first occasion. She said she believes that Jandak "won´t say
anything like this anymore" after their talk. "I would be considering
my statements about the Senate now," Jandak told LN.
However, nobody from the Social Democratic Party wants to openly face Jandak
before the elections. "I told my reservations to the minister and the
premier but I don't need to tell them to the media," Lastuvka said.
Bohuslav Sobotka did not comment on Jandak´s political style at all. He only
said that he tries to achieve "more intensive communication" with
Jandak who has "a broad range of opinions," the daily writes.
But Jandak told the paper that he is going to discuss his stances "same as
he did before."
Jandak´s controversial statements and his sudden ideas do not harm his
popularity among the Czechs, the paper says.
STEM polling agency head Jan Hartl said that the public positively reacts to
Jandak´s individual performances, but is not very interested whether his ideas
are implemented or not. "Most people just don't mind this," Hartl told
Skoda more than doubled earnings in 2005
A nine per cent jump in car sales helped Skoda Auto more than double its 2005
pre-tax earnings to 10.1 billion crowns, the company reported recently.
The Czech carmaker, a unit of Germany's Volkswagen, credited cost-cutting as
well as higher demand for its Octavia model for the record profit. Revenues rose
14 per cent to 187 billion crowns, pushing last year's profit up 108 per cent
from the 4.8 billion crowns posted in 2004. It was Skoda's second year in a row
for a doubled profit margin. Global sales of the Octavia increased 28 per cent
last year compared with 2004 to more than 233,000 units, the company said.
Sales of the compact Fabia model fell four per cent to about 236,000 units,
while sales were flat for the luxury car, Superb.
Thanks to strong sales in Germany, Britain and Spain, Skoda said its sales in
West Europe alone rose nearly 15 per cent last year.
This year Skoda, the largest Czech company, plans to sell more than half a
million cars for the first time, New Europe reported.
The new Roomster saloon will be unveiled at the Geneva motor show and will reach
European markets by summer, said board Chairman Detlef Wittig.
While other global carmakers are cutting staff, Skoda has been expanding its
Czech workforce. Global employment rose nearly eight per cent last year to
Wittig said the company, which currently builds cars in India as well as Europe,
wants to build more factories.
"To secure a continuous growth of the company in coming years, significant
attention will be paid to further expanding and development of new foreign
assemblies in Russia and China, in particular," Wittig said.
CEZ to launch reconstruction of power plants
Power company CEZ would start modernising its brown-coal fired power plants in
two years at the earliest, and was considering building a wind farm and
hydroelectric power plants in northern Bohemia, CEZ spokesman, Ladislav Kriz,
said recently, New Europe reported.
The company would modernise the plants Tusimice II, Prunerov, Ledvice and
Pocerady, according to Kriz. The first stage would be completed in 2030. The
Tusimice I plant would be demolished. The Tusimice II and Prunerov plants
"are most in need of reconstruction," according to Kriz. "Most of
the power plants in northern Bohemia date from the late 1960s and early 1970s
and their life span will end in 2010. The modernised plants will be able to
operate for another 25 years," the spokesman emphasised. According to
estimates by the experts, the coal deposits within the mining limits currently
in force would be exhausted in 2054. The planned modernisation drive would
involve an investment of 100 million Czech crowns which could involve another 50
billion crowns investment in construction of new plants "if the coal mining
limits are lifted," Kriz asserted.
Telefonica to merge Czech fixed-line, mobile units
Spain's Telefonica has proposed the merger of its recently acquired Eurotel
mobile and Cesky Telecom fixed-line phone companies in the Czech Republic.
Pending shareholder approval, the new company, Telefonica O2 Czech Republic,
would be launched with a new brand name by mid-year, said a Cesky Telecom
statement. Merger costs were not disclosed, but according to Cesky Telecom CEO,
Jaime Smith, quoted by the CTK news agency and cited by Deutsche Presse-Agentur
(dpa), combining the companies would save 300 million Euro (US$358 million).
Currently Eurotel is wholly owned by Cesky Telecom. Telefonica bought Cesky
Telecom from the Czech government last year for about US$3.5 billion. The
statement said the merger would lead to innovations such as new mobile-fixed
products and services.
Skanska to construct highway in Czech Republic
A subsidiary of the Nordic construction firm Skanska, Skanska Czech Republic,
signed a contract recently to construct a section of the D47 highway in the
Czech Republic, a statement from the company revealed, which was later confirmed
by the Czech authorities. The contract amount was estimated at approximately
3.33 billion Czech crowns. The Czech Road and Motorway Directorate issued the
tender with the project being financed by government funds. The assignment was
handed over for a 12-kilometre four-lane expressway section of the D47 at
Ostrava in eastern Czech Republic. "The project includes an interchange, 10
highway bridges and eight other bridges. In addition, the project includes
relocation of an adjacent railway line and about 10 kilometres of local and
approach roads," according to the Skanska statement. Construction would
also include noise protection walls and a number of flyovers for wild animals to
cross, New Europe reported.
Preparatory work had reportedly already been started with the beginning of the
construction work being scheduled for autumn. The approximate completion date
was fixed for 2009. Skanska Czech Republic, which is the largest construction
company in the Czech Republic, had sales of approximately 10 billion crowns in
2005, with about 7,000 employees. The company's largest projects in progress
include expansion of the subway and rail systems in Prague, as well as the
construction of a new head office for CSOB, a Czechbank. Skanska is one of the
world's leading construction groups with expertise in construction, development
of commercial and residential projects and public-private partnerships. The
Group operates in selected home markets in Europe, in the US and Latin America
with around 54,000 employees. Sales in 2005 totalled US$17 billion.