By Rose Sampley, Tyler Hopkins, Megan Findley, and Joshua Lindamood
What is the Political System in the Czech Republic like?
The Czech Republic, since gaining democratic independence and no longer belonging to the Communist-ruled Czechoslovakia, has a democratic system of government based on parliamentary democracy and free competition among political parties. The Czech Republic has a democratically elected president and head of state, who also operates as the Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces. 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) (“Political”).
While the United States has a Two-Party System, the Czech Republic has a Multi-Party System, meaning “multiple parties across the political spectrum run for office, and all have a similar or equal chance of gaining control of government offices, separately or in coalition government” (“Political”). These parties include:
- Czech Social Democratic Party: a Major left-wing, or democratic party
- ANO: a Centrist and Populist party led by the Czech Republic’s second wealthiest man
- Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia – an Heir of the former ruling Communist party of Czechoslovakia
- TOP 09: a Liberal conservative, pro-European and fiscally conservative political party
- Civic Democratic Party: a Liberal conservative, soft Eurosceptic (supports the EU but opposes specific EU policies and a European Superstate) party
- Christian and Democratic Union – Czechoslovak People’s Party: a Medium sized Christian democratic party
- Dawn – National Coalition: a Right-wing populist and Eurosceptic political party focused on issues of direct democracy, opposition to immigration and opposition to Islam
- Freedom and Direct Democracy: Eurosceptic political party that advocates direct democracy and opposition to immigration
- Green Party: a Minor centre (neither left nor right) environmental and social liberal political party
- Party of Civic Rights: a Minor left-wing, social democratic party
- Party of Free Citizens: a Right-wing, libertarian and Eurosceptic political party
A major reason why the Czech Republic keeps so many political parties is because prior to 1989 in Czechoslovakia, there could only be one party, the Communist Party. In order to prevent regressing to their past, they allow all political parties. Despite there currently being a Communist Party, it has not been part of any government coalition since the advent of democracy in the Czech Republic (“Political”).
Crazy! What must their Political Economy be like?
The Czech Republic operates under a mixed economy, which is where state intervention and market mechanisms regulate both private and public enterprises. Both enterprises are present with their focus on promoting the establishment of entrepreneurs within the Czech Republic and the expansion of private businesses in the engineering, mining, and chemical industries. We can see more bureaucratic/westernized development in the government of the Czech Republic through the introduction of the Labour Code and Employment Act. These acts are established and enforced by the government but affect both private and public businesses (Jenerálová). These acts regulate and ensure healthy working conditions, fair compensation, and give overall instructions of how businesses interact with employees.
In 2014, the Czech Republic began operating under a new code of civil laws which emphasizes the freedom of contracts and increases the flexibility of legal forms and organisational arrangements of corporations. This new civil law code will also help regulate and invite business from investors across borders to the Czech Republic. With the increase possibility of outside investors, the rules and regulations on contract law has also increased. This new code will allow corporations to become directors of different boards and choose between operating under a double-tier or single-tier board system (Kuncová).
New Code Code of Laws? Tell me more about their Legal System!
The Czech Republic’s legal system is referred to as the new civil code and was enacted in 2014. The Czech Republic’s legal system is called the new civil code because it actually replaced the original civil code of 1964. Both of these legal systems are based on former Austro-Hungarian civil codes and socialist theory. Due to common historical roots, the legal system is a “continental” legal system because it evolved and belongs to the “Germanic” legal culture (“Legal”). The main characteristics and functions within the legal system are that principle areas of law and procedure are always codified, the system of legal sources is hierarchical forming a pyramidical legal force, and lastly only written law that is adopted by the Parliament and the Government is recognized as a formal source of law (Pouperova). The Czech Republic’s type of legal system and its core characteristics and functions are very important because the economic, political, and legal environments of a country strictly influence the attractiveness of doing business internationally.
Sounds like the Czech Republic has a fine Legal System! I bet there’s no Corruption!
As of December 2015, the Czech Republic was ranked number 36 out of 168 countries on the Corruption Perception Index. On the index, a score of 100 means the public sector was perceived to be highly corrupt, while a score of 0 means the public sector was perceived to be very clean. The Czech Republic’s score of 56 means it falls somewhere in the middle—it is not extremely corrupt, but it does have a long way to go in order to fix its corruption issues (“Corruption”). The fight against corruption in the Czech Republic is so serious that the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), an agency of the Council of Europe, gave the country 13 recommendations in 2014 to combat corruption and promote transparency. The country had only fully met one of these recommendations as of February 2015; three others were accepted in part, but nine were not accepted at all (“Czech”).
Bribery goes hand in hand with corruption, and the Czech Republic faces many challenges with bribery among public officials. For example, in 2015 Vladislav Koval, former section head at the Regional Development Ministry, was charged with taking a bribe. Koval asked for bribes from an executive at a maintenance firm to place a contract with the ministry. After being charged, Koval stated that he was just testing the executive to see if he would offer a bribe; if he did, then the ministry would stop cooperating with the firm (“Former”). Bribery is also often committed by private companies, often foreign, in the Czech Republic. However, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Working Group on Bribery has given the country recommendations on how to combat bribery among foreign companies. Some of these recommendations include greater independence for prosecutors and not allowing prosecutors and the police to drop cases based on economic interest or foreign relations (“Regrettably”). The Czech Republic seems adamant about stopping foreign bribery, so foreign companies must be careful not to engage in actions of this kind in order to avoid prosecution.
Woah… Looks like the Czech Republic isn’t perfect after all… How do the Czech people feel about all of this?
A large portion of the Czech people struggle to take the government seriously. Due to the new democracy’s infancy and the high level of corruption, a vast number of Czech citizens show a disinterest or distaste for the elected officials in office and the government as a whole. Between the second president, Vaclav Klaus, stealing a pen on camera and the current president, Milos Zeman, showing up drunk to an incredibly prestigious ceremony, most citizens find these Heads of State more amusing than beneficial. There is also a declining interest from the younger population who did not live during the Communist time of Czechoslovakia, before the Czech Republic gained democratic independence.
Looks like the Czech Government still has some growing up to do!
For a video of Vaclav Klaus stealing a pen, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMoaJCd6qMk
For a video of Milos Zeman appearing drunk at the Royal Crown Jewels Display ceremony, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APXDT9lCyxk
“Corruption Perceptions Index 2015.” Transparency International. Transparency International, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
“Czech anti-corruption fight sluggish, CE criticism justified – TI.” Daily News [Prague, Czech Republic] 5 Feb. 2015. General OneFile. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
“Former Czech ministry section head faces bribery charges.” Daily News [Prague, Czech Republic] 13 May 2015. General OneFile. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
Jenerálová, Ivana. “Business Economic Facts.” Main Pillars of Czech Industry. 10 Oct. 2011. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.
Kuncová, Romana. “Life&Work Getting a Job Advice on How to Get a Job.” Labour Law Regulations Valid in the Czech Republic. 18 Oct. 2010. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
“Legal System.” Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
“Political System.” In the Hague. Embassy of the Czech Republic, 2 July 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
Pouperova, Olga. “1. Introduction.” UPDATE: An Introduction to the Czech Legal System and Legal Resources
Online. GlobaLex, Feb. 2014. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
“Regrettably low awareness in the private sector is an obstacle to the fight against foreign briber in the Czech Republic.” States News Service 21 Mar. 2013. General OneFile. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
Sadleck, Tomas. “Czech Republic: New Civil Code and Associated Change.” Mondaq: Connecting Knowledge & People. 14 Aug. 2013. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.