Final Word from Monday, February 16, 2004





Vladimír Špidla will meet this week with his German counterpart, Gerhard Schröder, but don't expect him to follow Schröder's lead. Since Schröder announced 10 days ago that he's quitting as SPD chairman, Špidla has faced renewed criticism at home but shows no signs of giving up. On the contrary, he's in a fighting mood. He managed to bring the opposition within his party under control (Just what does he have on Stanislav Gross?) and reminded Právo that the last parliamentary elections were won in the final two weeks of the campaign. The deciding factor was a debate on "7" with Václav Klaus. ODS is strong now, but its current chairman, Mirek Topolánek, is starting to look as vulnerable as Klaus was then. Špidla pointed out Topolánek's "emptiness" in LN on Feb. 6. Perhaps Špidla is betting on another pre-election battle on "7" to win the day. ČSSD TV Nova

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