A series of tax reforming and simplifying measures were passed by the Czech government on Wednesday. Ironically, the man behind most of the changes, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, was absent, taking part in a boycott of Cabinet meetings to protest the continued employment of a Public Affairs (VV) nominee at the Education Ministry.
Leftist Czech political parties are in seventh heaven. Opinion polls conducted by the major agencies all put the Social Democrats (ČSSD) well in front should parliamentary elections be held now (and a third of the Senate seats are up in the autumn). The Communist Party (KSČM), meanwhile, is also gaining ground, ready to bank on attracting protest voters uninterested in its ideology – all the way to second place.
More than 1,000 Czechs crowded into Prague’s historical Old Town Square on Wednesday to protest government plans for an unprecedented hike in VAT on books from 10 to 17.5 percent. Publishers and booksellers said the increase would lead to one-third fewer published titles and loss of 2,000 jobs with the country paying dearly in the future for ignorance.
A well-informed and high-placed politician with the center-right Civic Democrats (ODS), the largest of the three parties in the governing coalition, shares his insights into the recent initiatives and intrigues concerning state-owned Budějovický Budvar brewery, the producer of the original Budweiser beer.