Czech morning news in brief: Top headlines for October 8, 2021

First election votes cast by Czechs living abroad, Zeman to vote from home due to health concerns, Babiš threatens to sue opposition leaders. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 08.10.2021 09:46:00 (updated on 08.10.2021) Reading time: 3 minutes

President Zeman visited by doctor for check-up, will vote from home

The director of Prague’s Central Military Hospital (ÚVN), Miroslav Zavoral, visited President Miloš Zeman for a planned medical check yesterday. In accordance with medical confidentiality laws, information relating to the President’s health was not disclosed. In a radio interview, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the President has lost his appetite and is suffering from a lack of nutrition. As a result of his health condition, the President will cast his vote for the Czech general election from his residence at Lány.

Media had earlier speculated that Zeman has liver problems. Zeman’s spokesperson Jiří Ovčáček responded to such speculation with a barrage of tweets in which he accused forces hostile to the President of attempting a coup based on allegations of ill-health. In September, Zeman spent eight nights at the ÚVN, and in recent days his health condition is believed to have worsened. Castle representatives said Zeman’s condition is not serious and that he is preparing for negotiations following the general election, which starts today.

Chip shortage spells trouble for Škoda

Škoda Auto, the Czech Republic’s biggest exporter, will “significantly reduce or even halt” production from October 18 until the end of the year due to a global shortage of semiconductor chips which is causing significant problems for car manufacturing. A post-pandemic spike in demand for these chips cannot be met by supply, causing significant disruption in countries heavily reliant on the automotive industry, such as the Czech Republic.

Škoda’s anticipated downturn in production is the biggest announced so far in Central Europe. Economists say the hold-up could lead to a reduction in Czech growth forecasts, as Škoda forms the backbone of the nation’s car industry, which employs 180,000 people and makes up a quarter of national industrial output. Škoda has tens of thousands of cars complete, but lacking the vital chips. Dealerships are reporting months-long waiting times for new cars as a result. 

Lidl ordered to withdraw meat from Poland over antibiotics

The Lidl supermarket chain has been ordered to withdraw almost 17.5 tonnes of minced pork from Poland, after the State Veterinary Administration found that the amount of antibiotics in samples exceeded the allowed limit by 60 times. In the Czech Republic, the meat was processed by Maso uzeniny Polička. Anyone who has bought this minced pork should not consume it and should return it to the store where they bought it, according to the regulator.

Lidl has stated that sole responsibility for the situation lies with the supplier. According to Maso uzeniny Polička, this is the first time antibiotics have been found in the history of these tests. The meat was marked as pork minced meat 20%, in 1kg packages, with the batch number 207237 and an expiration date of October 10, 2021. The antibiotic contained in the samples belongs to the penicillin group, which have low toxicity but may cause allergic reactions in some individuals.

Babiš demands opposition leaders apologize for money laundering allegations

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš yesterday demanded apologies from opposition parties over their accusations of money laundering relating to revelations about Babiš’s suspicious financial dealings. He said that if the opposition leaders do not apologize, he will “sue them all.”

The international Pandora Papers investigation found that Babiš used a complex system of offshore companies to purchase luxury property in the south of France in 2009. Babiš claims he did not violate any law and acted on the recommendation of a real estate company. The Prime Minister said that the almost CZK 400 million which passed through offshore companies was properly taxed, although others have claimed the transactions bear the hallmarks of financial crime.

Czechs living abroad cast their votes for general election

Polling stations for Czechs voting in the general election from South America, the U.S.A. and Canada opened yesterday evening. Polling stations were located in major cities in these countries, with many Czechs traveling long distances to register their votes.

Czech citizens with permanent residence abroad and those living there temporarily to work, study or travel have the chance to participate in the election. A total of 111 foreign polling stations are operating, mostly at Czech embassies and consulates around the world.

In the Czech Republic, polls will be open from 14:00-22:00 on Friday, and from 08:00-14:00 on Saturday. In the last elections, held in 2017, the final results were known on the evening of the second day of voting, meaning the outcome of this year’s election could be known on Saturday night.

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