|Results of the Elections||Constitution of the Czech Republic|
The Czech Republic has a democratic system of government based on parliamentary democracy and free competition among political parties. Every citizen, upon reaching the age of 18, has the right to vote. The President of the Czech Republic is the formal head of state; he is also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. The President is elected by Parliament for a term of five years at a joint meeting of the lower and upper houses. The current President of the Czech Republic is Václav Klaus, the former Prime Minister.
The Czech Republic's supreme legislative body is Parliament, which consists of the House of Deputies, the lower house of the legislature, and the Senate, the upper house. The House of Deputies is made up of 200 Deputies elected on party tickets by secret ballot based on proportional representation for four-year terms. The Senate is comprised of 81 senators elected in individual electoral districts for six-year terms using a majority-wins system. This is similar to how Members of Parliament are elected in Canada. To be elected to the House of Deputies, a candidate must be at least 21 years of age; for the Senate, the minimum required age is 40.
The supreme executive body is the Government. It is led by the Prime Minister and appointed by the President of the Republic. The President also appoints other Government members - deputy ministers and ministers based on the Prime Minister's recommendations. Before it is instated, the Government must win a vote of confidence in the House of Deputies. As of 8th May 2009, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic is Jan Fischer.
The independent Constitutional Court is the highest judiciary body in the Czech Republic. The President appoints, for life, its head and its judges, as well as judges of other courts. The Czech National Bank, entrusted with the stability of the currency, is independent and self-governing. The President, however, appoints its chairman and governors.
The Czech Republic is a free country devoted to equal rights for all its citizens. Human and civil rights are guaranteed by the Constitution through the Bill of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Many organizations have been formed to promote and encourage human rights within the Czech Republic, including the Czech Helsinki Committee and Amnesty International.
Presently, the Czech Republic is divided into administrative districts. These districts are further divided into 6000 municipalities. However, by 2002, the country will be divided into 13 self-governing regions, which will constitute the basic governing bodies. The state will intervene in the work of the self-governing regions only when necessary for defending the law and do so only as specified by law. The members of the localgovernments are elected to office for four years.
The current Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Canada is His Excellency Karel Žebrakovský.
For further information about the political scene click here.
Major Political Parties
In 1989, after overthrowing the "one-party" government, Czechoslovak citizens found again freedom, the right to freely form political parties and movements according to one's political convictions. Shortly after the fall of the totalitarian regime, a colorful variety of political parties was established and provided the foundation for a more stable democratic political environment.
The main parties in today's political scene are:
Czech Social Democratic Party (Česká strana sociálně demokratická- ČSSD)
Chairman: Jiří Paroubek
The ČSSD is the successor to a party established in 1878 and disbanded by the Communists in 1948. Its policies accent the social agenda.
Civic Democratic Party (Občanská demokratická strana- ODS)
Chairman: Mirek Topolánek
The party was founded as a conservative party after the split of the Civic Forum on February 26, 1991.
Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People's Party(Křesťansko-demokratická unie - Československá strana lidová- KDU-ČSL)
Chairman: Jiří Čunek
This party is the successor to the Catholic-oriented People's Party, which was active between the World Wars. In the Communist era, it existed as a powerless decoration of the totalitarian regime. After 1989, the party underwent a complicated internal transformation, and it currently declares itself to be a conservative party with a Christian social orientation.
Freedom Union (Unie svobody)
Chairman: Pavel Nemec
The Freedom Union, founded on January 19, 1998, started as a splinter group of the Civic Democratic Party in December 1997. It is a liberal party supporting economic reforms.
Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (Komunistická strana Čech a Moravy- KSČM)
Chairman: Vojtech Filip
The party under the current name KSČM has not succeeded in transforming itself into a "modern left-wing party" similar to found in neighboring countries. The KSČM is the last of the former totalitarian parties in Central Europe to retain the term "Communist" as part of their official names. Although the party's popularity remains surprisingly stable, it is largely isolated on the Czech political scene, and thus the impact of its political actions are very limited.
Current Political Situation
Twenty nine political parties and movements participated in the 2002 elections. Five of them obtained five percent or more of the popular vote, and, subsequently, seats in Parliament. The Czech Social Democratic Party emerged as a winner after having gained over 30 per cent of the votes and formed left-center coalition with the Christian Democratic Union - Czechoslovak People's Party and the Freedom Union - Democratic Union, which received together almost 15 percent of votes, with the narrowest possible majority of 101 seats in Lower Chamber of the Parliament consisting of 200 seats.
For further information about major and minor political parties click here.