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. 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.