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Politics of the Czech Republic


The Czech political scene supports a broad spectrum of parties ranging from the semi-reformed Communist Party on the far left to various nationalistic parties on the extreme right. Czech voters returned a split verdict in the June 2002 parliamentary elections, giving the left-of-center Social Democrats (ČSSD) and Communists majority, without any posibility to form functional government together due to Mr. Spidla's strong anticommunism. The results produced a CSSD coalition government with Christian Democrats (KDU-CSL) and Liberals (US-DEU), while Civic Democrats (ODS) and Communists (KSCM) took place in opposition. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla is the head of government and wields considerable powers, including the right to set the agenda for most foreign and domestic policy, mobilize the parliamentary majority, and choose governmental ministers.

Václav Klaus, now President of the Czech Republic, former chairman of Civic Democrats (ODS) remains one of the country's most popular politicians. As formal head of state, he is granted specific powers such as the right to nominate Constitutional Court judges, dissolve parliament under certain conditions, and enact a veto on legislation.

The legislature is bicameral, with a Chamber of Deputies and a Senate. With the split of the former Czechoslovakia, the powers and responsibilities of the now defunct federal parliament were transferred to the Czech National Council, which renamed itself the Chamber of Deputies. Chamber delegates are elected from seven districts and the capital, Prague, for 4-year terms, on the basis of proportional representation. The Czech Senate is patterned after the U.S. Senate and was first elected in 1996; its members serve for 6-year terms with one-third being elected every 2 years.

The country's highest court of appeals is the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court, which rules on constitutional issues, is appointed by the president, and its members serve 10-year terms.

Country name:
conventional long form: Czech Republic
conventional short form: Czechia (rarely used)
local long form: Ceska republika
local short form: Cesko

Data code: CZ

Government type: parliamentary democracy

Capital: Prague

Administrative divisions: 73 districts (okresy, singular - okres) and 4 municipalities* (mesta, singular - mesto); Benesov, Beroun, Blansko, Břeclav, Brno-město*, Brno-venkov, Bruntál, České Budějovice, Česká Lípa, Cesky Krumlov, Cheb, Chomutov, Chrudim, Decin, Domazlice, Frydek-Mistek, Havlickuv Brod, Hodonin, Hradec Kralove, Jablonec nad Nisou, Jesenik, Jicin, Jihlava, Jindrichuv Hradec, Karlovy Vary, Karvina, Kladno, Klatovy, Kolin, Kromeriz, Kutna Hora, Liberec, Litomerice, Louny, Melnik, Mlada Boleslav, Most, Nachod, Novy Jicin, Nymburk, Olomouc, Opava, Ostrava*, Pardubice, Pelhrimov, Pisek, Plzen*, Plzen-jih, Plzen-sever, Prachatice, Praha*, Praha-Vychod, Praha Zapad, Prerov, Pribram, Prostejov, Rakovnik, Rokycany, Rychnov nad Kneznou, Semily, Sokolov, Strakonice, Sumperk, Svitavy, Tabor, Tachov, Teplice, Trebic, Trutnov, Uherske Hradiste, Usti nad Labem, Usti nad Orlici, Vsetin, Vyskov, Zdar nad Sazavou, Zlin, Znojmo

Independence: 1 January 1993 (Czechoslovakia split into the Czech and Slovak Republics)

National holiday: National Liberation Day, 8 May; Founding of the Republic, 28 October

Constitution: ratified 16 December 1992; effective 1 January 1993

Legal system: civil law system based on Austro-Hungarian codes; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction; legal code modified to bring it in line with Organization on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) obligations and to expunge Marxist-Leninist legal theory

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal, to be abandoned soon

Executive branch:
chief of state: President Vaclav KLAUS (since 7 March 2003)
head of government: Prime Minister Vladimir SPIDLA (since 12 July 2002); Deputy Prime Ministers Stanislav GROSS (since 12 July 2002), Pavel RYCHETSKY (since 12 July 2002), Cyril SVOBODA (since 12 July 2002), Petr MARES (since 12 July 2002)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister
elections: president elected by Parliament for a five-year term; election last held 28 February 2003 (next to be held NA January 2008); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Vaclav KLAUS elected president; Vaclav KLAUS received 142 votes in the 281-member Parliament.

Legislative branch: bicameral Parliament or Parlament consists of the Senate or Senat (81 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve six-year terms) and the Chamber of Deputies or Poslanecka snemovna (200 seats; members are elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms)
elections: Senate - last held 25-26 October 2002 (next to be held NA November 2004 - to replace/reelect 27 senators serving two-year terms); Chamber of Deputies - last held 14-15 June 2002 (next to be held by NA June 2006)
election results: Senate - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - ODS 26, "Open Democracy" Caucus 16, KDU-CSL 15, CSSD 11, Caucus "Independents" 5, independent 8; Chamber of Deputies - percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - CSSD 70, ODS 58, KSCM 41, KDU-CSL 21, US-DEU 10

Juridicial branch: Supreme Court, chairman and deputy chairmen are appointed by the president for life; Constitutional Court, chairman and deputy chairmen are appointed by the president for life

Political parties and leaders: Christian Democratic Union-Czechoslovak People's Party or KDU-CSL [Cyril SVOBODA, chairman]; Civic Democratic Alliance or ODA [Daniel KROUPA, chairman]; Civic Democratic Party or ODS [Mirek TOPOLANEK, chairman]; Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia or KSCM [Miroslav GREBENICEK, chairman]; Czech Social Democrats or CSSD [Vladimir SPIDLA, chairman]; Freedom Union-Democratic Union or US-DEU [Petr MARES, chairman]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions

International organization participation: Australia Group, BIS, CCC, CE, CEI, CERN, EAPC, EBRD, ECE, EU (applicant), FAO, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IEA (observer), IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, IMO, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Interpol, IOC, IOM, ISO, ITU, NATO, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE, PCA, PFP, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIK, UNMOP, UNMOT, UNOMIG, UPU, WEU (associate), WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO, Zangger Committee

Diplomatic representation in the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador Alexsandr VONDRA
chancery: 3900 Spring of Freedom Street NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 363-6315
FAX: [1] (202) 966-8540
consulate(s) general: Los Angeles and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:
chief of mission: Ambassador John SHATTUCK
embassy: Trziste 15, 11801 Prague 1
mailing address: use embassy street address
telephone: [420] (2) 5753-0663
FAX: [420] (2) 5753-0583

Flag description: two equal horizontal bands of white (top) and red with a blue isosceles triangle based on the hoist side (identical to the flag of the former Czechoslovakia - colours are derived from the Czech coat of arms - red and white from the silver lion on the red plane and blue from the Moravian eagle or from Slovak (and generally Slavic) tricolour)

See also: Czech Republic