President of the Czech Republic

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President of the Czech Republic
Prezident České republiky
Flag of the President of the Czech Republic.svg
Zeman M 1.JPG
Incumbent
Miloš Zeman

since 8 March 2013
Style His Excellency
Residence Prague Castle
Seat Prague, Czech Republic
Appointer Popular vote
Term length Five years
Renewable once, consecutively
Precursor President of Czechoslovakia
14 November 1918
Inaugural holder Václav Havel
2 February 1993
Formation Constitution of the Czech Republic
Salary2,235,600 ($ 86,830) [1]
Website www.hrad.cz
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The President of the Czech Republic is the elected formal head of state of the Czech Republic and the commander-in-chief of the Military of the Czech Republic. [2] Unlike counterparts in other Central European countries such as Austria and Hungary, who are generally considered figureheads, the Czech president has a considerable role in political affairs. Because many powers can only be exercised with the signatures of both the President and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, responsibility over some political issues is effectively shared between the two offices.

A head of state is the public persona who officially embodies a state in its unity and legitimacy. Depending on the country's form of government and separation of powers, the head of state may be a ceremonial figurehead or concurrently the head of government and more.

Czech Republic Country in Central Europe

The Czech Republic, also known by its short-form name, Czechia, is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west, Austria to the south, Slovakia to the east, and Poland to the northeast. The Czech Republic is a landlocked country with a hilly landscape that covers an area of 78,866 square kilometers (30,450 sq mi) with a mostly temperate continental climate and oceanic climate. It is a unitary parliamentary republic, with 10.6 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Prague, with 1.3 million residents; other major cities are Brno, Ostrava, Olomouc and Pilsen.

President of Austria head of state of Austria

The President of Austria is the head of state of the Austrian Republic. Though theoretically entrusted with great power by the Constitution, in practice the President is largely a ceremonial and symbolic figurehead.

Contents

Powers

The framers of the Constitution of the Czech Republic intended to set up a parliamentary system, with the Prime Minister as the country's leading political figure and de facto chief executive and the president as a ceremonial head of state. However, the stature of the first president, Václav Havel, was such that the office acquired greater influence than the framers intended. [3]

Constitution of the Czech Republic

The Constitution of the Czech Republic is the supreme law of the Czech Republic. The current constitution was adopted by the Czech National Council on 16 December 1992. It entered into force on 1 January 1993, replacing the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia and the constitutional act No. 143/1968 Col., when Czechoslovakia gave way to the Slovak Republic and the Czech Republic in a peaceful dissolution.

Václav Havel Playwright, essayist, poet, former dissident and 1st President of the Czech Republic

Václav Havel was a Czech statesman, writer and former dissident, who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 and then as the first President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs.

Absolute authority

The President of the Czech Republic has the authority to act independently in a number of substantive areas. One of the office's strongest powers is that of veto, which returns a bill to parliament. Although the veto may be overridden by parliament with an absolute majority vote (over 50%) of all deputies, [4] the ability to refuse to sign legislation acts as a check on the power of the legislature. The only kind of bills a President can neither veto nor approve are acts that would change the constitution. [5]

Veto legal power to unilaterally stop an official action, especially the enactment of legislation

A veto is the power to unilaterally stop an official action, especially the enactment of legislation. A veto can be absolute, as for instance in the United Nations Security Council, whose permanent members can block any resolution, or it can be limited, as in the legislative process of the United States, where a two-thirds vote in both the House and Senate will override a Presidential veto of legislation. A veto may give power only to stop changes, like the US legislative veto, or to also adopt them, like the legislative veto of the Indian President, which allows him to propose amendments to bills returned to the Parliament for reconsideration.

Constitutional act of the Czech Republic

A constitutional act, with respect to the laws of the Czech Republic, is an act which can change the Constitution of the Czech Republic, provisions of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Basic Freedoms, the conditions under which the citizenry may exercise state power directly, or the exterior or interior frontiers of the territory of the Czech Republic.

The president also has the leading role in the appointment of persons to key high offices, including appointment of judges to the Supreme and Constitutional Courts (with the permission of the Senate), and members of the Bank Board of the Czech National Bank. [5]

Supreme Court of the Czech Republic

The Supreme Court of the Czech Republic is the court of highest appeal for almost all legal cases heard in the Czech Republic. As set forth in the Constitution of the Czech Republic, however, cases of constitutionality, administrative law and political jurisdiction are heard by other courts.

Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic constitutional court

The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic is a specialized type of court which primarily works to protect the people in the Czech Republic against violations of the Constitution by either the legislature, government or by any other subject that violates people's constitutional rights and freedoms. In this respect, it is similar in functionality to the Supreme Court of the United States, but is distinct from the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic. Of all the various levels of the Czech Judiciary it is the one created with the greatest specificity in the constitution.

Czech National Bank the central bank and financial market supervisor in the Czech Republic

The Czech National Bank, is the central bank and financial market supervisor in the Czech Republic with its headquarters in Prague, and a member of the European System of Central Banks. The Bank's governor is Jiří Rusnok. In accordance with its primary objective, the CNB sets monetary policy, issues banknotes and coins and manages the circulation of the Czech koruna, the payment system and settlement between banks. It also performs supervision of the banking sector, the capital market, the insurance industry, pension funds, credit unions and electronic money institutions, as well as foreign exchange supervision.

Limited sole authority

There are some powers reserved to the President, but can be exercised only under limited circumstances. Chief among these is the dissolution of the Chamber of Deputies. While the president can dissolve the Chamber on his own authority, [5] forcing a new election of that body within 60 days, [6] this can be done only under conditions prescribed by the constitution. [7]

Duties shared

Many of the President's powers can only be exercised with the assent of the Government, as expressed by the signature of the Prime Minister. These include all matters having to do with foreign relations and the use of the military, the appointment of judges to lower courts, and the granting of amnesty. Except when the Chamber of Deputies has been dissolved because of its failure to form or maintain a government, [7] the President may call for elections to the Chamber and the Senate only with the Prime Minister's approval. [8]

A country's foreign policy, also called foreign relations or foreign affairs policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve goals within its international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries. The study of such strategies is called foreign policy analysis. In recent times, due to the deepening level of globalization and transnational activities, the states will also have to interact with non-state actors. The aforementioned interaction is evaluated and monitored in attempts to maximize the benefits of multilateral international cooperation.

Judiciary of the Czech Republic

The Judiciary of the Czech Republic is set out in the Constitution, which defines courts as independent institutions within the constitutional framework of checks and balances.

The President also shares responsibility with the Chamber of Deputies for appointing the president and vice president of the Supreme Control Office [9]  the body in charge of implementing the national budget although this appointment does not technically require the signature of the Prime Minister. [5]

Immunity from prosecution

Under Art. 54 (3) and 65 (3) of the constitution, the President may not be held liable for any alleged criminal acts while executing the duties of office. Such prosecution may not occur either while the president is in office or at any time thereafter. Furthermore, Art 65 (1) prevents trial or detention for prosecution of a criminal offense or tort while in office. The only sort of prosecution allowed for a sitting President is that of high treason, which can only be carried out by the Senate, and can only result in removal from office and a ban on regaining the office at a later date. [10]

Ceremonial powers

Many of the duties of the Czech President can be said to be ceremonial to one degree or another, especially since the President has relatively few powers independent of the will of the Prime Minister. A good example of this is the status as commander in chief of the military. No part of these duties can take place but through the assent of the Prime Minister. In matters of war, he is in every sense merely a figurehead, since the constitution gives all substantive constitutional authority over the use of the armed forces to the parliament. [11] [12] In fact, the only specific thing the constitution allows the president to do with respect to the military is to appoint its generals but even this must be done with the signature of the Prime Minister. [8]

Many of the President's ceremonial duties fall under provisions of the constitution that allow the exercise of powers "not explicitly defined" in the constitution, but allowed by a lesser law. [8] In other words, Parliament has the power to allow the President whatever responsibilities they deem proper, without necessarily having to amend the constitution. Such a law was passed in 1994 with respect to the awarding of state decorations. While the constitution explicitly allows the conferring of honors and awarding of medals by the president only with the signature of the Prime Minister, parliament acted in 1994 to grant the president power to do so on his own authority. Hence, this particular duty is effectively shared between the parliament and the president. [13] The act even allows the president to choose someone to perform the actual presentation ceremony.

Election

Until 1956, the office of president was filled following an indirect election by the Parliament of the Czech Republic. In February 2012, a change to a direct election was passed by the Senate, [14] and after the related implementation law also was passed by both chambers of the parliament, it was enacted by presidential assent on 1 August 2012; [15] meaning that it legally entered into force on 1 October 2012.

Electoral procedure

The term of office of the President is 5 years. [16] A newly elected president will begin the five-year term on the day of taking the official oath. [17] Candidates standing for office must be 40 years of age, and must not have already been elected twice consecutively. [18] Since the only term limit is that no person can be elected more than twice consecutively, a person may theoretically achieve the presidency more than twice. Prospective candidates must either submit petitions with the signatures of 50,000 citizens, or be nominated by 20 deputies or 10 senators.

The constitution does not prescribe a specific date for presidential elections, but stipulates that elections shall occur in the window between 30 and 60 days before the end of the sitting president's term, provided that it was called at least 90 days prior to the selected election day. [19] In the event of a president's death, resignation or removal, the election can be held at the earliest 10 days after being called and at the latest 80 days after vacancy of the presidential seat. [17] If no candidate receives a majority, a runoff is held between the top two candidates.

The constitution makes specific allowances for the failure of a new president to be elected. If a new president has not been elected by the end of a president's term, or if 30 days elapse following a vacancy, some powers are conferred upon the Prime Minister, some are moved to the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies or to the chairman of the Senate, if parliament is in a state of dissolution at the time of the vacancy. [20]

The first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic was held 11–12 January 2013, with a runoff on 25–26 January.

Previous electoral procedure (until 1 October 2012)

Under Article 58 of the current Czech Constitution, nominees to the office must be put forward by no fewer than 10 Deputies or 10 Senators. Once nominees are in place, a ballot can begin. Each ballot can have at most three rounds. In the first round, a victorious candidate requires an absolute majority in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. Given a 200-seat Chamber and an 81-seat Senate, a successful first-round candidate requires 101 deputies and 41 senators. [21]

If no single candidate gets a majority of both the Chamber and the Senate, a second round is then called for. At this stage, a candidate requires an absolute majority of merely those actually present at the time of voting in both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The actual number of votes required in the second round might be the same as in the first round, but as in 2008, it can be a little less, due to the absence of a few parliamentarians. Nevertheless, in this second round, a single candidate would need to win a majority in both the Chamber and the Senate.

Should no single candidate achieve a majority of both houses then present, a third round is necessitated. In this final round, which can happen within 14 days of the first round, an absolute majority of deputies and senators present suffices. [22] At this stage, the individual houses of parliament are not considered separately. Assuming that all members of parliament are present, all that is required to win is 141 votes, regardless of the house of origin. If no candidate wins in the third round, another ballot has to be considered in a subsequent joint session of parliament. [23] The process continues under the same rules until a candidate prevails.

In 1993, the Republic's first president, Václav Havel, had little difficulty achieving victory on the first round of the first ballot, but his re-election bid proved bumpier. In 1998, he was elected with a cumulative seven-vote margin on the second round of the first ballot. [24] By contrast, his successor, Václav Klaus, has required the full measure of the process. He narrowly won election on the third ballot at the 2003 election and on the sixth (second attempt, third ballot) in 2008. Both his elections were won in the third round. His biggest margin of victory was two votes.

Dissatisfaction with previous procedure

Following the 2003 and 2008 elections, which both required multiple ballots, some in the Czech political community expressed dissatisfaction with this method of election. In 2008, Martin Bursík, leader of the Czech Green Party, said of the 2008 vote, "We are sitting here in front of the public somewhat muddied by backstage horse-trading, poorly concealed meetings with lobbyists and intrigue." [25] There were calls to adopt a system with a direct election, in which the public would be involved in the voting. However, opponents of this plan pointed out that the presidency had always been determined by indirect vote, going back through several predecessor states to the presidency of Tomáš Masaryk. Charles University political scientist Zdeněk Zbořil suggested that direct voting could result in a president and prime minister who were hostile to each other's goals, leading to deadlock. A system of direct elections was supported by figures including Jiří Čunek (Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People's Party) and Jiří Paroubek (Czech Social Democratic Party), whereas the ruling Civic Democratic Party, under both President Václav Klaus and Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, was more skeptical. Topolánek commented that it was an advantage that "our presidential elections are not preceded by some campaign, that is unavoidable in a direct election and causes rifts among citizens". Using Poland as an unfavourable example, he said that "when someone talks about how our method of selecting the head of state is undignified, he should first weigh the consequences of a direct vote". [26]

Removal from office

Aside from death, there are only three things that can effect a president's removal from office:

  1. A President can resign by notifying the President of the Senate. [27]
  2. The President may be deemed unable to execute his duties for "serious reasons" by a joint resolution of the Senate and the Chamber [20]  although the president may appeal to the Constitutional Court to have this resolution overturned. [28]
  3. The President may be impeached by the Senate for high treason and convicted by the Constitutional Court. [28]

Trappings of office

Presidential fanfare

Since the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the presidential fanfare has been the introduction to Bedřich Smetana's opera Libuše , which is symbol of the patriotism of the Czech people during the Czech National Revival under the Austro-Hungarian monarchy.

Heraldry

The office of president carries with it an iconography, established through laws passed by the parliament. Perhaps the most visible of these is the flag of the president, as seen at top right. His official motto is the same as that of the Republic: "Pravda vítězí" ("Truth prevails").

Inasmuch as the president is the titular sole administrator of Prague Castle, the presidency may also be said to control the heraldry of that institution as well, including but not limited to the special designs worn by the Castle Guard, which is a special unit of the armed forces of the Czech Republic, organized under the Military Office of the President of the Czech Republic, directly subordinate to the president.

Furthermore, the president, while in office, is entitled to wear the effects of the highest class of the Republic's two ceremonial orders, the Order of the White Lion and the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. By the power of being inaugurated, the President becomes the holder of the highest class of both orders for the duration of his term in office as well as their supreme administrator. By convention, the Parliament allows a retiring President to remain a life-long member of both institutions, with the order decorations returning to the State upon the former President's death. [29] [30]

Residences

Entrance to the residence of the President of the Czech Republic, Prague Castle. Vikhid z Gradu.JPG
Entrance to the residence of the President of the Czech Republic, Prague Castle.

The official residence of the president of the Czech Republic is Prague Castle. However, the living quarters are small and not particularly comfortable, so recent presidents (Václav Havel and Václav Klaus) have chosen to live elsewhere. The last president to reside more or less full-time in the residence in the Prague Castle was Gustáv Husák.[ citation needed ] The president also maintains a summer residence at the castle in the village of Lány, 35 km west of Prague.

Living former Presidents

There is one living former Czech President:

List of presidents of the Czech Republic

See also

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References

  1. "Prezident Klaus má nárok na 50tisícovou rentu i státní důchod" (in Czech). Mladá fronta DNES. 17 June 2011.
  2. William M. Mahoney (2011). The History of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. ABC-CLIO. p. 7. ISBN   9780313363061.
  3. Thompson, Wayne C. (2008). The World Today Series: Nordic, Central and Southeastern Europe 2008. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia: Stryker-Post Publications. ISBN   978-1-887985-95-6.
  4. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 50
  5. 1 2 3 4 Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 62
  6. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 17
  7. 1 2 Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 35
  8. 1 2 3 Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 63
  9. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 97
  10. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 65 (2)
  11. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 43
  12. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 39
  13. "The Act on the State Decorations of the CR". Prague Castle. 2 August 2008. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  14. "Radio Prague – Czech Parliament passes direct presidential elections". Radio.cz. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  15. "Klaus signs enacts implementation law, direct elections to be held in 2013 | CZ Presidential Elections". Czechpresidentialelections.com. 2 August 2012. Archived from the original on 29 January 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  16. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 55
  17. 1 2 "Presidential Powers | CZ Presidential Elections". Czechpresidentialelections.com. 23 October 2010. Archived from the original on 17 January 2014. Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  18. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 57
  19. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 56
  20. 1 2 Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 66
  21. Boruda, Ondřej (6 February 2008)."Presidential Election 2008", The Prague Post.
  22. "Klaus remains favourite in Czech president's election - analyst". ČeskéNoviny.cz. Archived from the original on 13 August 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2013.
  23. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 58
  24. "Vaclav Havel gets a second term as president". Agence France Presse. 22 January 1998. Archived from the original on 13 May 2009.
  25. Jůn, Dominik (13 February 2008). "No-vote creates election 'fiasco". The Prague Post
  26. Hulpachová, Markéta (13 February 2008). "The future of the electoral process". The Prague Post. Archived from the original on 27 February 2008.
  27. Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 61
  28. 1 2 Constitution of the Czech Republic, Art. 87
  29. "Order of the White Lion Statutes". Prague Castle. 23 May 2008. Archived from the original on 23 May 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2012.
  30. "Tomas Garrigue Masaryk Order Statutes". Prague Castle. 23 May 2008. Archived from the original on 23 May 2008. Retrieved 25 November 2012.