Friday News Briefing
Czechs vote to elect new president; Albania to remove license from ČEZ
Posted: January 11, 2013
The race is on to replace outgoing Czech President Václav Klaus.
Voting is set to get under way across the country on Friday as the Czech Republic chooses its first directly elected president. Polling stations open at 2 p.m. local time and close at 10 p.m. On Saturday, citizens will have the chance to vote between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Results are due sometime before midnight. According to research group PPM Factum, turnout is expected to be around 69 percent, higher than previous elections, while more than 7,000 Czechs living abroad have registered to vote. Nine candidates are in the running to replace outgoing President Václav Klaus, who will leave office when his second and final term ends in March. All of the presidential hopefuls took part in one last televised debate on the eve of an election that analysts predict will be extremely close, with no one candidate surging ahead in the opinion polls. The election will go to a second-round run-off, slated for Jan. 25-26, if there is no outright winner.
The chairman of the Constitutional Court, Pavel Rychetský, has branded the blanket amnesty declared by Klaus Jan. 1 "amateurish." In an interview with daily Hospodářské noviny (HN), Rychetský criticized the poor preparation of the decree and denied claims by Prime Minister Petr Nečas that as head of government he was constitutionally obligated to sign off on the act. Klaus made the concession during his traditional New Year's Day speech to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Czech Republic. So far, more than 6,300 prisoners have been released from jail, while most controversially, a number of high-profile corruption cases will be halted. "It is within the power of neither the president nor the prime minister to evaluate this," Rychetský told HN. "This must be done by an army of Justice Ministry officials. Since 1920, all amnesties were prepared by the government, primarily the justice minister." He added Nečas could have refused to approve the amnesty if he didn't agree with it.
The Albanian authorities have announced plans to take away ČEZ's license to distribute power in the country. The decision follows a long-running dispute between the Czech utility and the government in Albania, which ČEZ entered in 2009 through its purchase of 76 percent of the national electricity distributor, now named ČEZ Shpërndarje. ČEZ has been criticized for its failure to stem losses from the country's power grid, while the company has complained of an inability to raise prices to consumers, resulting in heavy losses. According to the Albanian energy regulator, proceedings have started to remove ČEZ's license in Albania, and these are due to be completed by the end of this month.
The Czech economy will contract this year, according to a prediction from the Czech Banking Association (CBA). The organization forecasts that economic activity in the country will fall 1.1 percent this year, although 2014 will see a recovery with growth of 1.9 percent. The latest prediction for 2013 reflects a continued fall in confidence, since just three months ago the organization was predicting 0.5 percent growth in the Czech economy in 2013. "Households' consumption dropped in 2012 at a faster pace than would correspond to the development of their disposable incomes. The slump of domestic demand became the main reason forthe economic fall in the year 2012," said Ludek Niedermayer from the CBA.
News Desk can be reached at
- Great news, about cEZ & Albania! Perhaps now CEZ will pass savings to CZ ...
- Or a book launch in Albania that gave security personnel an unnecessary difficult ...
- It looks in this photo as though Klaus is looking for a confrontation to not back ...