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. 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.
|President of the Czech Republic
Prezident České republiky
since 8 March 2013
|Seat||Prague, Czech Republic|
|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|
|Salary||2,235,600 Kč ($ 86,830) |
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.
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, 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.
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.
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, forcing a new election of that body within 60 days, this can be done only under conditions prescribed by the constitution.
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, the President may call for elections to the Chamber and the Senate only with the Prime Minister's approval.
The President also shares responsibility with the Chamber of Deputies for appointing the president and vice president of the Supreme Control Office – the body in charge of implementing the national budget – although this appointment does not technically require the signature of the Prime Minister.
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.
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. 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.
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. 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. The act even allows the president to choose someone to perform the actual presentation ceremony.
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, 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; meaning that it legally entered into force on 1 October 2012.
The term of office of the President is 5 years. A newly elected president will begin the five-year term on the day of taking the official oath. Candidates standing for office must be 40 years of age, and must not have already been elected twice consecutively. 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. 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. 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.
The first direct presidential election in the Czech Republic was held 11–12 January 2013, with a runoff on 25–26 January.
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.
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. 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. 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. 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.
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." 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".
Aside from death, there are only three things that can effect a president's removal from office:
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.
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.
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. The president also maintains a summer residence at the castle in the village of Lány, 35 km west of Prague.
There is one living former Czech President:
The Chief of the General Staff (Czech: Náčelník Generálního štábu) is the highest-ranking and most senior military officer of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. He is appointed by the President of the Czech Republic, who is the commander-in-chief. The current Chief of the General Staff is Lieutenant General Aleš Opata.Elections in the Czech Republic
The Czech Republic elects a legislature at a national level. The Parliament (Czech: Parlament České republiky) has two chambers. The Chamber of Deputies (Czech: Poslanecká sněmovna) has 200 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation with a 5% election threshold for political parties. The Senate (Czech: Senát) has 81 members in single-seat constituencies, elected by two-round runoff voting for a six-year term, with one third of seats contested every even year in the autumn. The President of the Czech Republic was indirectly elected for five-year terms until 2012; beginning with the 2013 election, the president is elected by direct two-round runoff voting.There have been municipal elections every four years since 1990 and regional elections every four years starting in 2000. These elections take place in the autumn.
The Czech Republic has a multi-party system.
Voting in Czech elections is normally held over two days, from Friday afternoon until early afternoon on Saturday.First Lady of the Czech Republic
The First Lady of the Czech Republic is the hostess of the Prague Castle, advisor to the President, and often plays a role in social activism. The position is traditionally held by the wife of the President of the Czech Republic, concurrent with his term of office. She has no official role in the presidency and her role is strictly ceremonial.
The current First Lady of the Czech Republic is Ivana Zemanová. She has been First Lady since 8 March 2013 as wife of President Miloš Zeman.Flag of the Czech Republic
The national flag of the Czech Republic (Czech: státní vlajka České republiky) is the same as the flag of former Czechoslovakia. Upon the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic kept the Czechoslovak flag while Slovakia adopted its own flag. The first flag of Czechoslovakia was based on the flag of Bohemia and was white over red. This was almost identical to the flag of Poland (only the proportion was different), so a blue triangle was added at the hoist in 1920. The flag was banned by the Nazis in 1939, and a horizontal tricolor of white, red, and blue was enforced. The 1920 flag was restored in 1945.Jiří Drahoš
Jiří Drahoš (born 20 February 1949; Czech pronunciation: [ˈjɪr̝iː ˈdraɦoʃ]) is a Czech physical chemist and politician, who has been Senator for the Prague 4 district since October 2018. Previously, Drahoš served as President of the Czech Academy of Sciences from 2009 to 2017, and was a candidate for the President of the Czech Republic in the 2018 election.
Born in Český Těšín and raised in nearby Jablunkov, Drahoš studied physical chemistry at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague, and joined the Institute of Chemical Process Fundamentals of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in 1973, which he later led from 1995 to 2003. In 2009, he was elected President of the Czech Academy of Sciences. His term as head of the academy ended on 24 March 2017.
In March 2017, Drahoš announced his candidacy for President of the Czech Republic in the 2018 election. He ran on a moderate centrist platform, and is generally pro-European and supportive of NATO and Atlanticism. Drahoš lost the second round of the presidential election to his opponent President Miloš Zeman with 48.6% of the vote, but vowed to remain in public life. In October 2018, he stood for the Czech Senate in the Prague 4 district, winning the election outright in the first round with 52.65% of the vote.Jiří Rusnok's Cabinet
Jiří Rusnok's Cabinet was a Cabinet of the Czech Republic. It was appointed by the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman on 10 July 2013; however, on 7 August, it did not win enough support, losing a confidence vote by 93 to 100. Some parties called for immediate dissolution, leading eventually to elections which took place in October. Rusnok's cabinet will now continue in a caretaker capacity. It left the office on 29 January 2014.Karel Schwarzenberg
Karel Schwarzenberg (born 10 December 1937) is a Czech politician, former leader of the TOP 09 party and its candidate for President of the Czech Republic in the 2013 election. Currently, he serves as a Member of the Chamber of Deputies (MP).
From July 1990 to July 1992 Schwarzenberg served as the chancellor (director of the presidential office) to Václav Havel, while he was president. He went on to be elected as Senator for the municipal district Prague 6 from 2004 to 2010 and to serve as Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic from 2007 to 2009 and again from 2010 to 2013, originally as a non-partisan minister nominated by the Green Party. In May 2010, he was elected as a Member of Parliament for the newly founded pro-European centre-right party TOP 09, gaining the largest number of preference votes. He was candidate for President of the Czech Republic in the 2013 presidential election, and qualified for the second round, finishing as runner-up, with 45.19% of the votes. Schwarzenberg is noted for his pro-European views.Schwarzenberg has been the head of the House of Schwarzenberg, a formerly leading family of the Habsburg empire, since 1979. He is related to Prince Felix of Schwarzenberg, a statesman of the Austrian Empire. From 1948 to 1990, he lived in Austria, where he was known as Karl Schwarzenberg, and was involved in politics for the Austrian People's Party and became a noted critic of human-rights violations in the eastern bloc, chairing the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights. Following the fall of communism, he became a close adviser to Václav Havel and relocated to Prague.
He is married to Therese Hardegg (Therese Countess zu Hardegg auf Glatz und im Machlande) and they have three children, all of whom live in Austria. His full noble title and style is: His Serene Highness The 12th Prince of Schwarzenberg (First Majorat) and 7th Prince of Schwarzenberg (Second Majorat), Count of Sulz, Princely Landgrave in Klettgau, Duke of Krumlov (Czech: Karel Jan Nepomuk Josef Norbert Bedřich Antonín Vratislav Menas kníže ze Schwarzenbergu; German: Karl Johannes Nepomuk Josef Norbert Friedrich Antonius Wratislaw Menas Fürst zu Schwarzenberg).List of Czech presidential candidates
The first Czech presidential election was held in 1993, and elections have been held every five years since. The President was elected indirectly by parliament until the 2013 election, and has been elected directly by Czech voters since then.List of Presidents of the Czech Republic
This is a list of Presidents of the Czech Republic, a political office that was created in 1993 following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia.
The Czech Republic is a parliamentary representative democracy, with the President acting as head of state and the Prime Minister acting as head of government.
The first President of the Czech Republic was Václav Havel. The current President is Miloš Zeman, in office since 8 March 2013.
Until 2012, the President was elected by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, for a term lasting five years. Since 2013 the President is elected by popular vote. The only living former President of the Czech Republic is Václav Klaus.Military awards and decorations of the Czech Republic
Military awards and decorations of the Czech Republic are issued by the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic to members of the Armed forces of the Czech Republic serving under its command, civil employees of the Ministry and foreign soldiers who co-operated with/under Czech command. Members of the Armed forces of the Czech Republic are eligible for State decorations of the Czech Republic. These decorations are awarded by the President of the Czech Republic.
This list contains military decorations which are awarded in the name of the Minister of Defence and the Chief of the General Staff.Miloš Zeman
Miloš Zeman (Czech pronunciation: [ˈmɪloʃ ˈzɛman] (listen); born 28 September 1944) is a Czech politician serving as the third and current President of the Czech Republic since 8 March 2013. He previously served as Prime Minister of the Czech Republic from 1998 to 2002. As Leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party during the 1990s, he transformed his party into one of the country's major political forces. Zeman was Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of the Czech parliament, from 1996 until he became Prime Minister two years later in 1998.
In January 2013, Zeman was elected President of the Czech Republic. He is the first directly elected President in Czech history; both of his predecessors, Václav Havel and Václav Klaus, were elected by the Czech Parliament. In 2018, he was re-elected for a second term.Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
The Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (Czech: Řád Tomáše Garrigua Masaryka) is an Order of the Czech Republic and the former Czechoslovakia. It was established in 1990 after the Velvet Revolution, and re-established in 1994 (following the dissolution of Czechoslovakia). The President of the Czech Republic awards it to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the development of democracy, humanity and human rights. The order has five classes, of which class I is the highest. The order is named in honor of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, an advocate of Czechoslovak independence and the first President of Czechoslovakia.
By law, President of the Czech Republic is entitled to the class I insignia of this order; after leaving the office, the order may be conferred upon him for life by a joint resolution of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.Party of Civic Rights
The Party of Civic Rights – Zeman's people (Czech: Strana Práv Občanů - Zemanovci, SPOZ), also known as Zemanovci, formerly Party of Civic Rights (Czech: Strana Práv Občanů, SPO) is a political party in the Czech Republic founded in October 2009 by Miloš Zeman, former Prime Minister and former leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party. Zeman was elected President of the Czech Republic in the second round of the 2013 presidential election.
In Spring 2014, Senator Jan Veleba, elected as an independent candidate in 2012, joined the Party of Civic Rights and became its chairman. In Senate elections in October 2014, František Čuba, an infamous "businessman" from the communist era, was elected as the party's second Senator.In the 2016 regional elections, the SPO participated in a coalition with Okamura's Freedom and Direct Democracy party and won 16 seats.Prague Castle
Prague Castle (Czech: Pražský hrad; [ˈpraʃskiː ˈɦrat]) is a castle complex in Prague, Czech Republic, dating from the 9th century. It is the official office of the President of the Czech Republic. The castle was a seat of power for kings of Bohemia, Holy Roman emperors, and presidents of Czechoslovakia. The Bohemian Crown Jewels are kept within a hidden room inside it.
According to the Guinness Book of Records, Prague Castle is the largest ancient castle in the world, occupying an area of almost 70,000 square metres (750,000 square feet), at about 570 metres (1,870 feet) in length and an average of about 130 metres (430 feet) wide. The castle is among the most visited tourist attractions in Prague attracting over 1.8 million visitors annually.Prague Castle Guard
The Prague Castle Guard or simply the Castle Guard (Czech: Hradní stráž) is a specific and autonomous unit of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic directly subordinate to the Military Office of the President of the Czech Republic. Its main task is to guard and defend the seat of the President of the Czech Republic at the Prague Castle. During the period 1939 to 1945 its duties were performed by the 1st Battalion of the Government Army.Security Information Service
The Security Information Service (BIS) (Czech: Bezpečnostní informační služba), is the primary domestic national intelligence agency of the Czech Republic. It is responsible for collecting, analyzing, reporting and disseminating intelligence on threats to Czech Republic's national security, and conducting operations, covert and overt, both domestically and abroad. It also reports to and advises the Government of the Czech Republic on national security issues and situations that threaten the security of the nation.
The BIS headquarters is located in Stodůlky, Prague 5. The Security Information Service reports directly to the Government, Prime Minister and President of the Czech Republic and is overseen by the Permanent Commission of the Chamber of Deputies.State decorations of the Czech Republic
State decorations of the Czech Republic recognize outstanding acts of service to the Czech Republic. They are awarded by the President of the Czech Republic, usually, but not necessarily, on the recommendation of the Chamber of Deputies, the Senate or the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic. They may also be promulgated solely on the president's authority. They come in two varieties: orders being the higher honor and medals the lower.Václav Havel
Václav Havel (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvaːtslav ˈɦavɛl] (listen); 5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011) 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.
His educational opportunities having been limited by his bourgeois background, Havel first rose to prominence as a playwright. In works such as The Garden Party and The Memorandum, Havel used an absurdist style to criticize communism. After participating in the Prague Spring and being blacklisted after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, he became more politically active and helped found several dissident initiatives, including Charter 77 and the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted. His political activities brought him under the surveillance of the secret police and he spent multiple stints in prison, the longest being nearly four years, between 1979 and 1983.
Havel's Civic Forum party played a major role in the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. He assumed the presidency shortly thereafter, and was re-elected in a landslide the following year and after Slovak independence in 1993. Havel was instrumental in dismantling the Warsaw Pact and expanding NATO membership eastward. Many of his stances and policies, such as his opposition to Slovak independence, condemnation of the Czechoslovak treatment of Sudeten Germans after World War II, and granting of general amnesty to all those imprisoned under communism, were very controversial domestically. As such, at the end of his presidency, he enjoyed greater popularity abroad than at home. Havel continued his life as a public intellectual after his presidency, launching several initiatives including the Prague Declaration on European Conscience and Communism, the VIZE 97 Foundation, and the Forum 2000 annual conference.
Havel's political philosophy was one of anti-consumerism, humanitarianism, environmentalism, civil activism, and direct democracy. He supported the Czech Green Party from 2004 until his death. He received numerous accolades during his lifetime including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Gandhi Peace Prize, the Philadelphia Liberty Medal, the Order of Canada, the Four Freedoms Award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, and the Hanno R. Ellenbogen Citizenship Award. The 2012–2013 academic year at the College of Europe was named in his honour. He is considered by some to be one of the most important intellectuals of the 20th century. The international airport in Prague was renamed to Václav Havel Airport Prague in 2012.Václav Klaus
Václav Klaus (Czech pronunciation: [ˈvaːtslaf ˈklaus]; born 19 June 1941) is a Czech economist and politician who served as the second President of the Czech Republic from 2003 to 2013. He also served as the second and last Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, federal subject of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic, from July 1992 until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in January 1993, and as the first Prime Minister of the newly-independent Czech Republic from 1993 to 1998.
Klaus was the principal co-founder of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), a Czech free-market Eurosceptic political party. His presidency was marked by numerous controversies over his strong views on a number of issues, from global warming denial to euroscepticism, and a wide-ranging amnesty declared in his last months of office, triggering his indictment by the Czech Senate on charges of high treason. His political views have been referred to as "Klausism".
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