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Cablegate: The Czech Constitution

R 301330Z DEC 92
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 2996
INFO EASTERN EUROPEAN POSTS COLLECTIVE
USEC BRUSSELS
AMEMBASSY BONN
USMISSION GENEVA
USMISSION USUN NEW YORK

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 06 PRAGUE 11316

FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY

VIENNA ALSO HOLD FOR BRATISLAVA

USVIENNA FOR USDEL CSCE AND UNVIE

E.O. 12356:N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM CZ
SUBJECT: THE CZECH CONSTITUTION

REF: FBIS VIENNA AU, SERIAL NO. AU2412060192 (NOTAL)

1. SUMMARY: THE CZECH REPUBLIC (CR) CONSTITUTION (FULL
TEXT REFTEL), WHICH WILL TAKE EFFECT JANUARY 1, IS
EXPLICITLY PART OF THE CR'S EFFORT TO PROJECT ITSELF
RAPIDLY AND FULLY INTO THE "FAMILY OF EUROPEAN AND WORLD
DEMOCRACIES." THE FUNDAMENTAL CONSTITUENT UNIT IS NOT
THE CZECH PEOPLE AS A GROUP, BUT RATHER THE INDIVIDUAL
CITIZEN OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC, WHOSE HUMAN AND CIVIL
RIGHTS ARE ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED AND PROTECTED BY AN
INDEPENDENT JUDICIARY, INCLUDING A CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
AND SUPREME COURT. THE CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES THE
PROTECTION OF MINORITY VIEWPOINTS, BUT DOES NOT INCLUDE
THE PRINCIPLE THAT NATIONAL OR ETHNIC MINORITIES HAVE
SPECIAL RIGHTS BY VIRTUE OF THEIR NATIONAL OR ETHNIC
DISTINCTIVENESS.

2. THE INDEPENDENT CZECH REPUBLIC WILL BE A
PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY, WITH A BICAMERAL LEGISLATURE
(CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES AND SENATE). THE PRIME MINISTER,
HIS DEPUTIES, AND OTHER MINISTERS ARE RESPONSIBLE TO THE
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES. A MAJOR FUNCTION OF THE SENATE IS
TO ENSURE CONTINUITY WHEN THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES CANNOT
FULFILL ITS RESPONSIBILITIES; OTHERWISE, IT IS FAR LESS
POWERFUL THAN THE CHAMBER. THE PRESIDENT OF THE
REPUBLIC IS ELECTED BY BOTH CHAMBERS OF PARLIAMENT, AND
EXERCISES POWERS SUBSTANTIALLY GREATER THAN THOSE OF THE
GERMAN PRESIDENT, BUT LESS THAN THOSE OF THE PRESIDENT
OF FRANCE. IN ADDITION TO THE EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATIVE,
AND JUDICIAL BRANCHES, THE CONSTITUTION ESTABLISHES A
SUPREME INSPECTION OFFICE (SOMEWHAT COMPARABLE TO THE
GAO) AND THE CZECH NATIONAL BANK. THE CONSTITUTION ALSO
PROVIDES FOR WHAT IS TERMED "TERRITORIAL
SELF-ADMINISTRATION" AT THE LEVEL OF MUNICIPALITIES AND
OF REGIONS OR LANDS, BUT DOES NOT SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASE
MUNICIPAL OR REGIONAL AUTONOMY. END SUMMARY.

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BASIC PRINCIPLES
----------------

3. ACCORDING TO THE PREAMBLE, IT IS THE "CITIZENS OF
THE CZECH REPUBLIC IN BOHEMIA, MORAVIA, AND SILESIA" WHO
ADOPT THE CONSTITUTION, THROUGH THEIR FREELY ELECTED
REPRESENTATIVES. THE PREAMBLE AND CHAPTER ONE, "BASIC
PROVISIONS," REFER AT SEVERAL POINTS TO THE CR AS A
"STATE OF LAWS", BASED ON THE EQUALITY OF ALL CITIZENS
AND RESPECT FOR THE PRINCIPLES OF HUMAN DIGNITY,
FREEDOM, AND HUMAN AND CIVIL RIGHTS. INTERNATIONAL
ACCORDS ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS TO
WHICH THE CR HAS COMMITTED ITSELF ARE BINDING AND TAKE
PRECEDENCE OVER NATIONAL LAW, AND THE
POST-VELVET-REVOLUTION CHARTER OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS AND
FREEDOMS IS DEFINED AS PART OF THE "CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER
OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC." THE CONSTITUTION FORBIDS ANY
CHANGES IN THE ESSENTIAL ATTRIBUTES OF THE CR AS A
DEMOCRATIC STATE OF LAWS, AND FORBIDS THE INTERPRETATION
OF LEGAL NORMS IN SUCH A WAY AS TO THREATEN THE
FOUNDATIONS OF THE DEMOCRATIC STATE.

4. ALL STATE POWER DERIVES FROM THE PEOPLE, AND THE
POWER OF THE STATE IS DEFINED AS SERVING ALL CITIZENS.
THE POLITICAL SYSTEM IS BASED ON FREE COMPETITION OF
POLITICAL PARTIES, WHICH MUST RESPECT FUNDAMENTAL
DEMOCRATIC PRINCIPLES AND REJECT FORCE AS A MEANS OF
ADVANCING THEIR INTERESTS. WHILE THE WILL OF THE
MAJORITY, EXPRESSED THROUGH THE FREE BALLOT, IS THE
BASIS OF POLITICAL DECISIONS, THE CONSTITUTION STATES
EXPLICITLY: "DECISIONS BY THE MAJORITY PROVIDE FOR THE
PROTECTION OF MINORITIES."

THE LEGISLATURE
---------------

5. THE CONSTITUTION PROVIDES FOR A BICAMERAL
LEGISLATURE: A 200-MEMBER CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES
(SUCCESSOR TO THE CZECH NATIONAL COUNCIL) AND AN
81-MEMBER SENATE. THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, BY FAR THE
MORE POWERFUL OF THE TWO HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT, IS
ELECTED EVERY FOUR YEARS, UNDER A SYSTEM OF PROPORTIONAL
REPRESENTATION. ELECTIONS TO THE SENATE WILL TAKE PLACE
EVERY TWO YEARS, WITH ONE THIRD OF THE SEATS BEING
FILLED EACH TIME. (THE TERM FOR SENATORS IS SIX
YEARS.) SENATORS WILL BE ELECTED FROM SINGLE-MEMBER
DISTRICTS. WHILE DEPUTIES NEED ONLY BE TWENTY-ONE YEARS
OLD, SENATORS MUST BE AT LEAST FORTY.

6. THOUGH SIMILAR IN THEIR ARRAY OF OFFICERS, COMMITTEE
STRUCTURES, AND THE IMMUNITIES OF THEIR MEMBERS, THE TWO
HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT HAVE SOME RATHER DIFFERENT
FUNCTIONS. THE GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE ONLY TO THE
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, AND ONLY THE CHAMBER CAN APPROVE
THE BUDGET AND THE FINAL YEAR-END ACCOUNTING. ON THE
OTHER HAND, THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC CAN DISSOLVE
THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES UNDER CAREFULLY DEFINED
CONDITIONS OF LEGISLATIVE GRIDLOCK. (SEE PARA 13.) WHEN
THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES IS DISSOLVED, THE SENATE STEPS
IN AND CAN APPROVE LEGISLATIVE MEASURES PROPOSED BY THE
GOVERNMENT, OTHER THAN CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS, THE STATE
BUDGET, ELECTION LAWS, OR INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS ON
HUMAN RIGHTS AND FUNDAMENTAL FREEDOMS, WHICH HAVE THE
FORCE OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAW. (IN ORDER TO RETAIN ITS
VALIDITY, HOWEVER, A MEASURE PASSED BY THE SENATE MUST
BE CONFIRMED BY THE CHAMBER WHEN IT MEETS AGAIN.)

7. AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES AND THE
SENATE IS REQUIRED TO DECLARE WAR OR APPROVE THE
STATIONING OF FOREIGN TROOPS ON CZECH SOIL. (A SIMPLE
MAJORITY OF ALL DEPUTIES AND ALL SENATORS IS REQUIRED.)
CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS AND INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS REQUIRE
3/5 OF ALL DEPUTIES AND 3/5 OF ALL SENATORS PRESENT FOR
THE GIVEN VOTE. REGULAR LAWS ONLY REQUIRE SIMPLE
MAJORITIES OF ALL DEPUTIES OR SENATORS PRESENT FOR THE
VOTE.

8. IN FACT, WHEN IT COMES TO REGULAR LAWS, THE CHAMBER
OF DEPUTIES IS FIRMLY IN THE DRIVER'S SEAT. ALL DRAFT
LAWS ARE INTRODUCED IN THE CHAMBER. IF THE CHAMBER
APPROVES A LAW, IT PASSES IT TO THE SENATE. IF THE
SENATE REJECTS A LAW PASSED IN THE CHAMBER, THE LAW GOES
INTO EFFECT IF THE CHAMBER APPROVES IT AGAIN BY A SIMPLE
MAJORITY OF ALL DEPUTIES. A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF ALL
DEPUTIES IS ALSO SUFFICIENT TO OVERTURN A VETO BY THE
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC.

9. WITH RESPECT TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, THE SENATE
DOES HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES COMPLETELY DISTINCT FROM
THOSE OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES. THE SENATE MUST
APPROVE THE PRESIDENT'S APPOINTEES TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL
COURT, AND HAS THE POWER TO STRIP CONSTITUTIONAL COURT
JUDGES OF THEIR IMMUNITY FROM PROSECUTION. IT IS ALSO
THE SENATE THAT HAS THE POWER TO INDICT THE PRESIDENT
FOR TREASON, THE ONLY CRIME FOR WHICH THE PRESIDENT MAY
BE CRIMINALLY PROSECUTED.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
-----------------------------

10. CHAPTER 3 OF THE CONSTITUTION DEFINES EXECUTIVE
BRANCH POWERS. THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC (MINIMUM
AGE 40) IS THE CHIEF OF STATE, ELECTED AT A JOINT
SESSION OF THE TWO HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT FOR A FIVE-YEAR
TERM. (THE PRESIDENT MAY NOT SERVE MORE THAN TWO
CONSECUTIVE TERMS.) A SINGLE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAN
INCLUDE AS MANY AS THREE ROUNDS. THE FIRST ROUND
REQUIRES A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF ALL DEPUTIES AND A SIMPLE
MAJORITY OF ALL SENATORS. IN THE SECOND ROUND, A SIMPLE
MAJORITY OF DEPUTIES PRESENT AND OF SENATORS PRESENT IS
SUFFICIENT. IN THE THIRD ROUND, A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF
ALL DEPUTIES AND SENATORS, TAKEN AS A WHOLE, IS
SUFFICIENT. DESPITE ELECTION BY PARLIAMENT, HOWEVER,
THE PRESIDENT IS NOT RESPONSIBLE TO PARLIAMENT FOR THE
EXERCISE OF HIS OFFICE.

11. THE PRESIDENT'S EXCLUSIVE POWERS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

-- APPOINTS, DISMISSES, AND ACCEPTS THE RESIGNATION OF
THE PRIME MINISTER AND OTHER MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT,
AND EMPOWERS A GOVERNMENT THAT HAS RESIGNED OR BEEN
DISMISSED TO EXERCISE ITS FUNCTIONS TEMPORARILY;

-- APPOINTS JUDGES OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT, THE
CHAIRMAN AND DEPUTY CHAIRMAN OF THE SUPREME COURT, THE
PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME INSPECTION
OFFICE, AND THE MEMBERS OF THE BANK COUNCIL OF THE CZECH
NATIONAL BANK;

-- CONVENES SESSIONS OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES OR
DISSOLVES THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES UNDER SPECIFIED
CONDITIONS;

-- SIGNS LAWS, OR CAN RETURN TO PARLIAMENT LAWS IT HAS
PASSED, WITH THE EXCEPTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS;

-- ISSUES PARDONS, COMMUTES SENTENCES, ORDERS THAT
CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS NOT BE OPENED OR BE DISCONTINUED,
ERASES CONVICTIONS.

12. THE PRESIDENT ALSO EXERCISES A NUMBER OF POWERS
JOINTLY WITH THE PRIME MINISTER OR OTHER AUTHORIZED
MINISTERS, IN THE SENSE THAT PRESIDENTIAL DECISIONS IN
THESE AREAS REQUIRE THE SIGNATURE OF THE PRIME MINISTER
OR OTHER GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVE TO TAKE EFFECT:

-- REPRESENTS THE STATE IN EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, ACCREDITS
AND RECALLS HEADS OF DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS, RECEIVES HEADS
OF FOREIGN DIPLOMATIC MISSIONS;

-- NEGOTIATES AND RATIFIES INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS, OR
TRANSFERS SUCH RESPONSIBILITY TO THE GOVERNMENT;

-- CALLS ELECTIONS TO THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES AND
SENATE;

-- SUPREME COMMAND OF THE ARMED FORCES, APPOINTMENT AND
PROMOTION OF GENERALS;

-- CONFERS STATE DECORATIONS;

-- APPOINTS JUDGES;

-- GRANTS AMNESTY.

13. THE PRESIDENT IS EMPOWERED TO DISSOLVE THE CHAMBER
OF DEPUTIES, IF IT IS CLEARLY DEADLOCKED OR OTHERWISE
INCAPABLE OF EXPRESSING ITSELF. SPECIFICALLY, THE
PRESIDENT MAY ACT WHEN THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES VOTES
NO-CONFIDENCE IN A GOVERNMENT WHOSE PRIME MINISTER WAS
NAMED BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE SUGGESTION OF THE CHAIRMAN
OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES. (NOTE: AFTER TWO FAILED
ATTEMPTS TO WIN CONFIDENCE FOR A PRIME MINISTER OF HIS
OWN CHOOSING, THE PRESIDENT IS REQUIRED TO NOMINATE A
PRIME MINISTER PROPOSED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE CHAMBER
OF DEPUTIES.) DISSOLUTION ALSO IS POSSIBLE IF THE
CHAMBER IS ADJOURNED FOR LONGER THAN PERMISSIBLE (120
DAYS), HAS NO QUORUM FOR THREE MONTHS, OR FAILS FOR
THREE MONTHS TO EXPRESS ITSELF ON A GOVERNMENT DRAFT LAW
ON WHICH THE GOVERNMENT HAS PLACED THE QUESTION OF
CONFIDENCE.

14. THE PRESIDENT HAS A LIMITED VETO POWER. HE CAN
RETURN UNSIGNED A LAW OTHER THAN A CONSTITUTIONAL LAW,
PROVIDING THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES WITH AN EXPLANATION.
THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES VOTES AGAIN ON THE LAW, WITH NO
AMENDMENTS ALLOWED, AND A SIMPLE MAJORITY OF ALL
DEPUTIES IS SUFFICIENT TO OVERTURN THE VETO.

15. WHEN THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC IS
VACANT OR THE INCUMBENT CANNOT EXERCISE HIS OFFICE, THE
CHAIRMAN OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES EXERCISES MOST OF
THE FUNCTIONS IN PARA 11, MOST IMPORTANTLY THOSE HAVING
TO DO WITH APPOINTING AND DISMISSING THE GOVERNMENT AND
CONVENING OR DISSOLVING THE CHAMBER. THE PRIME MINISTER
EXERCISES MOST OF THE FUNCTIONS IN PARA 12, INCLUDING
THE CONDUCT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND COMMAND OF THE ARMED
FORCES.

THE GOVERNMENT
--------------

16. THE ARTICLES DEFINING THE POWERS OF THE GOVERNMENT
ARE MUCH LESS DETAILED THAN THOSE ON PRESIDENTIAL
POWERS. THE GOVERNMENT IS RESPONSIBLE TO THE CHAMBER OF
DEPUTIES, AND AUTOMATICALLY OFFERS ITS RESIGNATION AFTER
THE CONSTITUENT SESSION OF A NEWLY-ELECTED CHAMBER OF
DEPUTIES. THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC NAMES THE PRIME
MINISTER, AND, AT HIS SUGGESTION, APPOINTS THE OTHER
MEMBERS OF THE GOVERNMENT. THE GOVERNMENT MAKES ITS
DECISIONS AS A BODY, ON THE BASIS OF A VOTE BY A SIMPLE
MAJORITY OF ALL MEMBERS.

THE JUDICIARY
--------------

17. THE CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE
COURTS AND OF INDIVIDUAL JUDGES. IT PROVIDES FOR A
CONSTITUTIONAL COURT OF FIFTEEN JUDGES, APPOINTED FOR
TEN-YEAR TERMS BY THE PRESIDENT WITH THE CONSENT OF THE
SENATE. THE JUDGES ARE BOUND ONLY BY CONSTITUTIONAL
LAWS AND INTERNATIONAL AGREEMENTS, AND THEIR MAIN
FUNCTION IS TO REVIEW LAWS AND OTHER LEGAL REGULATIONS
TO ASCERTAIN WHETHER THEY ARE AT VARIANCE WITH
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW OR A BINDING INTERNATIONAL
AGREEMENT. THEY ALSO RULE IN CASES WHERE STATE BODIES
ARE ACCUSED OF UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACTS.

18. UNDER THE CONSTITUTION, THE PRIMARY ROLE OF THE
COURTS IS TO PROTECT THE RIGHTS TO CITIZENS. THE
REGULAR JUDICIARY CONSISTS OF THE SUPREME COURT, THE
SUPREME ADMINISTRATIVE COURT, HIGH, REGIONAL, AND
DISTRICT COURTS. THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC APPOINTS
JUDGES FOR AN UNLIMITED TERM. THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT
SPECIFY IN WHICH CASES JUDGES MAKE THEIR DECISIONS AS A
PANEL, IN WHICH CASES JUDGES MAKE THEIR DETERMINATIONS
INDIVIDUALLY, AND HOW CITIZENS OTHER THAN JUDGES MAY
PARTICIPATE IN COURT DELIBERATIONS. THESE MATTERS ARE
LEFT TO DEFINITION BY SUBSEQUENT LAWS. THE CONSTITUTION
GUARANTEES EQUALITY BEFORE THE LAW. COURT RULINGS ARE
ALWAYS ANNOUNCED IN PUBLIC, AND COURT PROCEEDINGS ARE AS
A RULE PUBLIC. EXCEPTIONS CAN BE SPECIFIED BY LAW. THE
CONSTITUTION ALSO REFERS TO A PUBLIC PROSECUTOR'S
OFFICE, WHICH REPRESENTS THE PUBLIC IN CRIMINAL
PROCEEDINGS, BUT DOES NOT DEFINE THE STATUS AND
JURISDICTION OF THE OFFICE, LEAVING THAT TO SUBSEQUENT
LAWS.

OTHER INSTITUTIONS
------------------

19. THE CONSTITUTION ALSO PROVIDES FOR A SUPREME
INSPECTION OFFICE, DEFINED AS AN INDEPENDENT BODY WHICH
PERFORMS INSPECTIONS OF THE MANAGEMENT OF STATE PROPERTY
AND FULFILLMENT OF THE STATE BUDGET. THE PRESIDENT OF
THE REPUBLIC, UPON PROPOSAL OF THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES,
APPOINTS THE PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT OF THE SUPREME
INSPECTION OFFICE. THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT, HOWEVER,
FURTHER ADDRESS THE ORGANIZATION AND STRUCTURE OF THE
OFFICE, LEAVING THAT TO SUBSEQUENT LAWS.

20. THE CZECH NATIONAL BANK, I.E. THE CENTRAL STATE
BANK, RECEIVES SIMILAR TREATMENT. THE CONSTITUTION
DEFINES THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THE BANK AS THE
MAINTENANCE OF A STABLE CURRENCY, AND STATES IT IS
POSSIBLE TO INTERVENE IN THE BANK'S ACTIVITIES SOLELY ON
THE BASIS OF LAW. THE PRESIDENT APPOINTS THE MEMBERS OF
THE BANK COUNCIL. OTHER ASPECTS ARE LEFT TO BE
DETERMINED BY SUBSEQUENT LAWS.

TERRITORIAL SELF-ADMINISTRATION
-------------------------------

21. THE MUNICIPALITY (OBEC) IS THE BASIC UNIT OF
TERRITORIAL SELF-ADMINISTRATION, WITH LANDS (ZEME) OR
REGIONS (KRAJE) AS HIGHER UNITS. THE CONSTITUTION
ITSELF DOES NOT LAY OUT THE SIZE AND BOUNDARIES OF THESE
UNITS. (NOTE: USE OF THE TERM "LAND" IS A SMALL
CONCESSION TO MORAVIAN AND SILESIAN DESIRES FOR SOME
RECOGNITION OF THE DISTINCT HISTORICAL STATUS OF THEIR
AREAS. IT IS CLEAR, HOWEVER, THAT, FOR THE DRAFTERS OF
THE CONSTITUTION, THE "LANDS" TO ALL INTENTS AND
PURPOSES WILL BE ANALOGOUS TO THE ALREADY EXISTING
"REGIONS", RATHER THAN TO LARGER HISTORIC AREAS SUCH AS
MORAVIA OR SILESIA.) THE UNITS OF TERRITORIAL
SELF-ADMINISTRATION ELECT THEIR OWN BOARDS OF
REPRESENTATIVES FOR FOUR-YEAR TERMS, AND CAN OWN
PROPERTY AND "ENGAGE IN MANAGEMENT ACCORDING TO THEIR
OWN BUDGETS." THE CONSTITUTION OTHERWISE LEAVES THE
EXACT AUTHORITY OF THE BOARDS OF REPRESENTATIVES TO BE
DEFINED BY SUBSEQUENT LAWS.

TEMPORARY PROVISIONS AND ENTRY INTO FORCE
-----------------------------------------

22. THE CONSTITUTION TAKES EFFECT JANUARY 1, 1993. ON
THAT DATE, THE CZECH NATIONAL COUNCIL, THE CURRENT
REPUBLIC PARLIAMENT, WILL BECOME THE CHAMBER OF
DEPUTIES, WITH ITS TERM TO END ON JUNE 6, 1996. THE
CONSTITUTION STATES THAT A PROVISIONAL SENATE WILL BE
CONSTITUTED TO COVER THE PERIOD UNTIL REGULAR SENATE
ELECTIONS ARE HELD. UNTIL A PROVISIONAL SENATE IS IN
PLACE, THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES WILL PERFORM THE
FUNCTIONS OF THE SENATE. (NOTE: A LAW TRANSFORMING THE
CZECH DEPUTIES FROM THE FEDERAL ASSEMBLY INTO A
PROVISIONAL SENATE FAILED TO PASS THE CZECH NATIONAL
COUNCIL. A SOMEWHAT MODIFIED VERSION OF THE LAW WILL
COME UP AGAIN, BUT PERHAPS NOT UNTIL MID-JANUARY.)

EMBASSY COMMENT
---------------

23. IN ITS FUNDAMENTAL PROVISIONS, THE CZECH
CONSTITUTION CLEARLY REFLECTS THE "CIVIC PRINCIPLE"
CENTRAL TO THE IDEOLOGY OF THE CZECH GOVERNING COALITION
PARTIES, ESP. THE CIVIC DEMOCRATIC PARTY (ODS) AND THE
CIVIC DEMOCRATIC ALLIANCE (ODA). .THE RIGHTS SPECIFIED
IN THE CONSTITUTION ARE THE RIGHTS OF CITIZENS OF A
POLITICAL DEMOCRACY AND THE RIGHTS THOSE CITIZENS DERIVE
FROM THEIR BASIC HUMANITY. THE GOVERNING COALITION
SUCCESSFULLY RESISTED OPPOSITION EFFORTS TO INCLUDE THE
CZECHOSLOVAK CHARTER OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS
DIRECTLY IN THE CONSTITUTION, PUTTING THE CHARTER
IMPLICITLY ON A SOMEWHAT LOWER LEVEL AS PART OF THE CR'S
"CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER." THE CHARTER INCLUDES SOCIAL AND
ECONOMIC GUARANTEES, E.G. TO EMPLOYMENT AND PENSIONS,
VERY DIFFERENT FROM THE BASIC CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS THE
GOVERNING PARTIES FOCUS ON. IT IS ALSO SIGNIFICANT THAT
THE CONSTITUTION GUARANTEES THE EQUALITY OF CITIZENS AS
INDIVIDUALS, WITHOUT SPECIFIC REFERENCE TO RIGHTS OF
GROUPS SUCH AS NATIONAL OR ETHNIC MINORITIES. THE
INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS THAT THE CONSTITUTION DOES GUARANTEE
ARE GUARANTEED UNEQUIVOCALLY, WITH NO ROOM FOR
EXCEPTION, AND PROTECTED BY THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT AND
REGULAR JUDICIARY. THE CITIZEN HAS AMPLE RECOURSE
AGAINST VIOLATIONS OF HIS RIGHTS BY THE INSTRUMENTS OF
STATE POWER.

24. THE CZECH CONSTITUTION IS FULLY COMPARABLE TO THE
CONSTITUTIONS OF CONTINENTAL WEST EUROPEAN PARLIAMENTARY
DEMOCRACIES, AND THE INFLUENCE OF THE 1920 CONSTITUTION
OF DEMOCRATIC CZECHOSLOVAKIA IS EVIDENT. THE POWERS OF
THE PRESIDENT MAY BE SLIGHTLY GREATER THAN THE CURRENT
WEST EUROPEAN AVERAGE, REFLECTING BOTH THE TRADITION OF
FIRST REPUBLIC CZECHOSLOVAKIA AND THE EFFORTS OF VACLAV
HAVEL TO ENSURE THAT THE OFFICE HE HOPES TO HOLD WILL BE
GENUINELY SUBSTANTIVE. (CZECH PRIME MINISTER KLAUS, A
STRONG ADVOCATE OF THE PARTY-BASED PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM
OF GOVERNMENT, WOULD HAVE PREFERRED A SOMEWHAT WEAKER
PRESIDENCY, BUT HAS LITTLE REASON TO BE DISSATISFIED.)

25. THE ONLY VISIBLE CONCESSION TO THE DEMANDS OF THE
MORAVIAN AND SILESIAN AUTONOMISTS WAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO
USE THE TERM "LAND" (ZEME) FOR THE HIGHER UNITS OF
TERRITORIAL SELF-ADMINISTRATION, AND THE RIGHT FOR THE
BOARDS OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THOSE HIGHER UNITS TO
PROPOSE LEGISLATION TO THE CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES. THIS
FALLS FAR SHORT OF WHAT THE MORAVIANS HOPED FOR.
CONCESSIONS TO THE GREENS WERE SIMILARLY MODEST.
ARTICLE 7 ONLY REQUIRES THE STATE TO "SEE TO THE
CAUTIOUS USE OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND TO THE PROTECTION
OF NATURAL WEALTH." THE CONSTITUTION STATES THAT A
SUBSEQUENT CONSTITUTIONAL LAW CAN ESTABLISH WHEN THE
PEOPLE MAY EXERCISE STATE POWER DIRECTLY, I.E. BY MEANS
OF A REFERENDUM, BUT THIS DOES NOT GO NEARLY AS FAR AS
THE DEMOCRATIC LEFT OPPOSITION HAD HOPED.

26. IN SUM, THE CZECH GOVERNING PARTIES HAVE REASON TO
BE QUITE SATISFIED WITH THE CONSTITUTION. THE SAME
SHOULD BE TRUE FOR THE WESTERN DEMOCRACIES. THE
CONSTITUTION APPEARS TO US TO INCLUDE ALL THE NECESSARY
GUARANTEES OF POLITICAL DEMOCRACY AND OF CIVIL AND HUMAN
RIGHTS. ALSO, WHILE THE CONSTITUTION DOES NOT REFER
SPECIFICALLY TO ECONOMIC MATTERS, IT IS CLEARLY THE
PRODUCT OF PEOPLE WHO ARE DEVOTED TO FREE-MARKET
PRINCIPLES AND DO NOT WANT TO CONDITION PEOPLE'S
ECONOMIC BEHAVIOR AND LIMIT OPPORTUNITIES BY
CONSTITUTIONAL MEANS.

BASORA

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