Statement No. 58: On Franchise and the Recent CR Parliament Elections

On Franchise and the Recent CR Parliament Elections

One important feature of parliamentary elections in advanced democratic States is the principle of franchise, i.e., the right of all citizens to participate limited only by age and a loss of civil rights or other legal incapacitation. However, participation in elections in the Czech Republic is practically impossible to a relatively vast number of citizens who are abroad on the Election Day without access to CR diplomatic missions. Most advanced democracies have dealt this problem for persons on business trips, working stays etc. simply. They make the postal voting method available to citizens outside the country on Election Day. This method has not yet been introduced in the Czech Republic.

The Democratic Club encourages the Czech Parliament to enact postal voting by the next Parliamentary elections. This enactment will establish an important democratic principle but also permanently solve the long-term problem of low voter turnout.  Such laws in advanced democratic countries with elections procedures like those of the Czech Republic can be a model for parliamentarians to consider.

We are aware that postal voting can facilitate electoral frauds. However, we do not believe Parliament would de facto deny the franchise to citizens who are otherwise eligible to vote. We are confident that Members of Parliament would institute safeguards making attempts at fraudulent voting impossible, as they are advanced democracies.

Prague, November 14, 2014

Statement No. 54: On the punishment to Radio Česko for the so-called unbalanced commentary

On the punishment to Radio Česko for the so-called unbalanced commentary

As it has been communicated by the media, the Czech Radio council and the director of Czech Radio news service punished the chief editor of Radio Česko for the commentary on presidential elections having taken the part of one of the candidates; the commentary is said to be unbalanced. We consider this decision and punishment strange, at least. Commentaries, as the law has it, are to be different from the news. A commentary always expresses its author´s standpoint which means, it cannot be “balanced”. Balancedness only can be secured by a summary of commentaries over a shorter or longer period by means of selection of commentators covering a full spectrum of views of the contemporary society.

We are alarmed by this decision and afraid that it means an attempt to limit the freedom of expression and to return to political censorship. Also the fact that, the decision had been taken based on a notice by Štěpán Kotrba, a former Communist Party member since 1986, is considered alarming.

We therefore request abolition of the punishment and a public apology to those punished.

Prague, February 16, 2013.

Statement No. 53: We support Karel Schwarzenberg in presidential elections

We support Karel Schwarzenberg in presidential elections

We are addressing hereby the members and friends of the Democratic Clubas well as the Czech Republic citizens with an advice to give their vote to Karel Schwarzenberg in the second round of the presidential elections. He proved through his life entire, to be a strong moral personality with undoubtedly significant merits for Czech Republic, before November 1989 through his support of political exile and dissent as well as after November by his support to Czech democracy renewal and to Czech foreign policy.  K.S. will be a noble representative of Czech abroad and a guarantee at the same time of the way of the Republic towards strengthening of democracy and legal order at home.

This recommendation was not sent in the time of the first round of the election, because other candidates were presented at that time, who also could be good presidents. But since these were not successful in the competition, we address them as well, to give the recommendation to thein own electors (if they have not done so, so far), to give their votes to Karel Schwarzenberg in the second round.

Prague, January 16, 2013.

Statement No. 52: On passing of the South Bohemia schools system management to Communists

On passing of the South Bohemia schools system management to Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia

As the media have informed recently, the newly elected South Bohemia  Region Council have appointed a representative of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia the Council member responsible for the schools system.

This decision of the top Region Body from one of the important Czech Republic regions makes us extremely alarmed even when it is not in conflict with the state of law of the Czech Republic. Namely it passes the principal influence on the appointments and recalls of school headmasters and on the general  education programmes and the application of these in the education programmes of schools i.e. on the contents of tuition proper, into the hands of Communists. This is opening the path to Communists for adaptation of tuition in the lines of Communist ideology: for the interpretation of history, of the economic and social processes, for the life values scale formation of children and youngsters and their attitudes to the world.

We are appealing therefore

  • to South Bohemia Region Representatives to reconsider the decision concerned;
  • to South Bohemia Regional President, to hinder the significant influence of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia on the appointments and recalls of headmasters and any political purges in the schools;
  • to current headmasters and unions in the schools, to defend the level of democracy reached by their active citizen attitudes and to openly report all tendencies of its limitation or the tuition indoctrination;
  • to the parents of pupils, to pay attention to the tuition of their children and to protest against any tendencies of distorting history and to keep employing all the chances offered by the contemporary democracy of ours to make the public aware of such tendencies; according to our experience, such tendencies will certainly appear;
  • to democratic political Parties and movements, not to admit the development of such a situation in the region.

In none of the Czech Republic regions gained the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia the absolute (more than half) majority of votes. The democratic Parties coalitions have to be preferred even in situations where it is not an ideal solution. A coalition with Communists means a starting point for democracy liquidation.

Democracy ripens over a long time and slowly. It requires several generations in order to create sufficient mechanisms within the society for its own defence. Our democracy is too fragile so far, the manifestations of its fragility are percepted by everyone. The more desirable it is, to give it space enough, for it to be able to ripen, to cultivate itself and to strenghten in the decades following. The more urgent it is, to prevent Communist ideology to attain a significant influence on the formation of children´s and youngsters´ attitudes to the world and on the information that they obtain at schoul. The school system is a neuralgic point in every society from the viewpoint of democracy´s perspective.

Prague, November 27, 2012.

Statement No. 51: On supporting the fight for human rights throughout the world

On supporting the fight for human rights throughout the world

The Democratic Club  listened with alarm to the Prime Minister´s words at Brno Machinery Fair, who condemned the support by Czech citizens of the Russian lady punkers and of Dalai Lama´s fight for Tibetan autonomy as harmful for Czech exports. While we realize the bad taste of the punkers´ behaviour as well as the material substance of the anxiety concerning some of the export items, we nevertheless consider such support correct and necessary. We realize that the collapse of autocratic regimes in our country as well as in the other countries was considerably influenced by foreign support of the revolt and resistance against these regimes, and we feel ourselves obliged to in this way help those fighting for similar aims now. Therefore, we request the Czech Government to support the position of adhering to all international contacts norms, and we call on political parties in civic society and also on the Media to support the fight for human rights everywhere.

Prague,  September 18,  2012

Statement No. 50: To the dismissal of the Ministr Jiří Pospíšil

To the dismissal of the Ministr Jiří Pospíšil

The Democratic Club was taken a back by the dismissal  of Jiří Pospíšil from the office of  the Minister of Justice.  We do not consider  the given reason for this step persuasive, i.e. his high demand for the budget of his resort. We question whether his dismissal might have been related to his  fight against corruption and for the rectification of the conditions in our justice system. Therefore we are asking the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic to inform the public about the real reasons of this dismissal, and possibly reverse this decision.

Prague,  June  29,  2012

Statement No. 49: On the question of Churches property restitution

On the question of Churches property restitution

We have always considered and still are considering at least a partial recompense of the property detriment done by the previous regime to the Churches a necessary component of the society transformation after November 1989. A righteous adjustment of property relationships between Churches, Orders and Congregations and the State has been considered since November 1989 a necessary presumption for the proper legal solution of property relationships but a necessary presumption, too, for an objective materialization of economic independence of the Churches, sui generis, on the State. We are stating here with regret that, not even after the twenty years from the appropriate laws acceptance the CR Parliament have not found good will and courage enough to carry the restitution of property to Churches, church organizations and associations through, in spite of the fact that, such a procedure is the most righteous form of “privatization” of the property confiscated by the monstrous totalitarian regime, and moderation of the caused injuries moreover.

Therefore, we are welcoming the consensus declared by the Government Parties, on the proposal of agreement reached after the long negotiations and reciprocal concessions by the Commission composed of representatives of both the State and the Churches in the matter of the Act on Churches Property Restitution. We are being alarmed, however, by the voices being heard again, even from the Government Parties, throwing doubt on the restitution.

One of the restitution opponents´ arguments is the question of ownership of the property. It is doubtless, anyway, that the property, before its confiscation by the Communist regime, had been owned by the Churches. Therefore it is necessary to return it, in order to rectify the injustice caused by the confiscation and to make the full development of the Churches life possible at the same time, since these are an important component of the civil society.

Another argument of the opponents currently is the strained State budget situation of the CR. We are assuming this argument to be a “populist” one and deeply amoral at the same time since there is no acceptable argument against the redress of crime consequences. Not mentioning the fact that, the financial part of the compensation is assumed distributed over a long period, hence, the Budget will be charged minimally only.

Therefore, we are asking the CR Parliament Members hereby, to render the Churches property restitution possible using their votes the way, the Coalition agreement is presuming.

Prague, June 4, 2012.

Statement No. 48: Concerning the activity of members and supporters of radical parties and movements in the executive sphere

Concerning the activity of members and supporters of radical parties and movements in the executive sphere

During the second half of February 2011, circulated was news concerning intentions of the Minister of Education to appoint as his first deputy a person who, in previous elections, led a list of the radical National Party in the region of Vysočina and who in his statements evoked the suspicion of supporting xenophobic and racial ideas. The Democratic Club vigorously defends the free exchange of opinions.  But it also vigorously believes that persons with radical and extremist views cannot hold leading positions and functions in the executive branch of a democratic state.  Furthermore, the Club believes that would mean tresspassing all tolerance and would eventually threaten the democratic character of the state.For that reason, we accepted and support a similar statement of Prime Minister Petr Nečas, and we expect that the appointment isn´t going to be made. At the same time, we are disconcerted that the President of the Republic has been backing a controversial candidate and who has expressed inadaquate critisism of some citizens who had refused appointment to a high position. It is the duty of democratic-minded citizens to step out against persons of suspected ideas and it is the duty of democratic apparatus in power to prevent such persons from influencing in particular the country’s education’s system, which is a very critical and sensitive sphere. Historically there is a number of examples when the inaction of citizens in similar situations resulted in endangering democracy or even in establishing undemocratic regimes.

Prague, March l3 th, 2011

Statement No. 47: Concerning the request of the president of the Czech Republic about redefinition of the standing of the Constitutional Court

Concerning the request of the president of the Czech Republic about redefinition of the standing of the Constitutional Court

On September 7 th 20I0 the president of the Czech Republic delivered a speech in which he, beside other things, requested redefinition of the position of the Constitutional Court in our constitutional system because, according to his opinion, it usurps greater juriusdiction than it is due. Having examined the articles of the constitution defining the position of the Court, Democratic Club arrived at a conclusion that these articles do not give the Court more jurisdiction than necessary to fulfil its function of explaining the constitution and maintaining balance between the accepted legal acts and the Constitution.  In this way it secures the balance between the three components of the democratic power which is common within developed democracies. At the same time we do not believe that any of the decisions, so far accepted by the CC, may have transgressed the rights which it had been entrusted by the constitution.

The president’s request to respect the authority of “the parliament as a sovereign power and primary source of any further power within the state – including executive and judicial power“, intervenes with the principle of the people’s sovereignty in a democratic state as well as with the principle of separation and balance of the three components of power, the enforcement of which is generally considered a condition of democracy. We are convinced that to recede from the present level of authority of CC would mean breaking the balance between legislative, executive and judicial power, thus undermining the liberal character of Czech democracy.

For these reasons we call upon the parliamentarians and senators of the Czech parliament not to accept suggestions of redefining the standing of CC.

Prague October 6, 2010