Monday, 23 October 2017

Mainstream parties are against more powers for president

ČTK |
9 October 2017

Prague, Oct 8 (CTK) - Czech president is unlikely to have the power to submit bills to parliament, which President Milos Zeman recently proposed since politicians of three mainstream parties rejected the idea in a debate that the public Czech Television (CT) broadcast on Sunday, two weeks before the general election.

Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO), Minister for Legislation Jan Chvojka (Social Democrats, CSSD) and former justice minister Pavel Blazek (Civic Democrats, ODS) shared the view that there is no need to change the constitution and the system of parliamentary democracy in such a way.

Zeman told TV Barrandov on Thursday that a directly elected Czech president should have broader powers, such as the right to submit bills to parliament, a stronger veto that is harder to override for MPs, and more decisions without the prime minister's countersigning.

Chvojka said Zeman proposes to turn the country into a semipresidential or even presidential system. Zeman’s idea that the president might dismiss ministers would in fact mean to abolish the post of prime minister, he said in the Questions of Vaclav Moravec programme.

Pelikan said the Czech constitution that seems to be functioning well should not be changed. He said he hoped that the new government that would arise from the forthcoming elections would be cautious when dealing with plans for constitutional changes.

"It cannot be done like this, adding something and taking away something else all of a sudden. This is nonsense," Blazek said about Zeman’s proposals.

On Thursday, Zeman said the strong mandate from voters should be adequately balanced with the broadening of the presidential powers. Politicians who are against the broader powers envy the support that the president won in the direct election, he said.

Zeman is the first head of state who was elected directly, in 2013. He will be defending his post in the election due next January, being one of the favourites.

Blazek said it was a mistake that the direct presidential election has been introduced. Politicians made this constitutional change in accordance with the public opinion kin order to increase their popularity, he added.

Both Blazek and Chvojka said that once introduced, the direct election would not be changed by another system.

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