Democracy Digest: Czech Wages Highest in V4; New US Military Base in Poland

In other Czech news, Prague is set to take over the rotating six-month presidency of the EU from France on Friday. This would be the second time Czechia has served as the president of the EU Council since it joined the bloc in 2004. It had been hoping for a smoother ride this time, unlike in 2009 when the government collapsed during its stint, causing its presidency to be judged a disaster. Yet this time will be no less turbulent, coming as it does when storms are battering the country, the war is raging in Ukraine, and full-blown cost of living and energy crises are apparent. "This presidency is not geared for good weather, but for bad times," Pavel Havlicek of the Prague-based Association for International Affairs told AFP. Among the Czech priorities are to help deal with the refugee crisis; launch a post-war reconstruction effort; boost EU energy security, defence capacities and economic resilience; and improve the resilience of its democratic institutions. Yet at home, the government is dealing with severe weather conditions across the country with storms causing flooding and hot and dry conditions causing forest fires, while the president signed into law the so-called "lex Ukraine", which, among other things, reduces the monthly allowance given to refugees by 15 per cent.

The chair of the Senate announced this week that the next Czech presidential election, where there will be no incumbent as President Milos Zeman will be term limited so ineligible to run for re-election, will take place on January 13-14, 2023. If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote, a second round will take place on January 27-28. To run, a candidate needs the signatures of 50,000 citizens, or must be nominated by 20 lower-house deputies or 10 senators. Among those...

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