Statement No. 56: On the paying of respects to the Constitution of Czech Republic

On the paying of respects to the Constitution of Czech Republic

The Democratic Club is alarmed by the low level of respects paid to Czech Constitution and CR constitutional usage by some of the constitutional officials. Actions against the spirit and letter of the Constitution were seen also during the period of office of the former CR President Mr. Klaus, after the election of current President Mr. Zeman the tendencies strengthened significantly.
The President has paid an insufficient respect to the Constitution mainly by
refusing to appoint a Government based on a Parliament majority, which is contradictory to constitutional usage. He explains his action by an insufficient legitimacy of some of the Representatives. He appropriates this way the right to assess legitimacy of the Representatives´ mandate, short of having been directly neither indirectly given this right by the Constitution;
showing to be entitled to voluntarily postpone actions committed to him by the Constitution. Prime Minister Rusnok admitted already publicly that, his Government could remain in office until ordinary elections even in case of credulity refusal on the part of House of Representatives, which means over a term of almost one year. A circumstance is being employed here that, the Constitution does not require a definite term for a new Prime Minister’s appointment.
The President has this way changed the current political system from the parliamentary one into a presidential one, may be into a personal power type one. Presidential system as such is compatible with democracy, but the transition to it should be accepted by a necessary majority of Representatives of by a public referendum, if needed. Its introduction by one person’s decision is absolutely incompatible with democracy.
The President expressed his approach to the spirit and letter of the Constitution in a recent interview for German media. He stated, he is not entitled to change the Constitution, but he can change the usage. The Democratic Club standpoint refuses such an approach. Every legal act represents a unity of its spirit and letter and no individual is entitled to voluntarily change these.
The Democratic Club feels the current situation risky for Czech democracy’s future. They ask President Zeman therefore to pay respects to the Constitution and constitutional traditions of Czech Republic. They also appeal to the Representatives and Senators to consider suing the President for constitutional offence if no redress has been offered. They appeal to them, at the same time, to consider whether a Constitution offering such a wide freedom of interpretation corresponds to the maturity and political culture of today’s Czech Republic and whether it could not be proficient to replace it by a new text, introducing some limits to voluntary arrangements when explaining it.

Prague, August 3, 2013.

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