milos zeman

Petr Dubinsky

Lawmakers Move To Strip Zeman Of Powers

According to the Senate Constitutional Commission, the conditions for the transfer of the powers of the President were fulfilled due to the state of health of Miloš Zeman. The Senate should decide on the transfer of powers to the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies before the lower house of parliament, by 8 November. Today, the Senate Commission unanimously agreed on the votes of all eight members present. The next meeting of the upper house will start on October 26, the next is scheduled for November 5.

The chairman of the commission, Zdeněk Hraba (STAN), described as “very probable” that the Senate will decide on the transfer of powers in the first week of November. The Senate should decide that “the President of the Republic cannot exercise his office for serious health reasons,” Hraba said. It expects the commission to prepare a more detailed draft resolution of the upper house.

Hraba pointed to the statement of Zeman’s doctor and director of the Central Military Hospital Miroslav Zavoral, according to which his patient is now unable to perform any work duties for health reasons. Zavoral considers the possibility that this situation would change in the coming weeks to be unlikely. The Count therefore does not think that a further medical assessment of Zeman’s abilities will be required to exercise presidential powers now.

With regard to the assessment of Zeman’s state of health, the Commission stated that “the conditions laid down in Article 66 of the Constitution of the Czech Republic on the substitute performance of the functions of the President of the Republic are given”. She recommended that, after negotiations with representatives of the Chamber, the Senate be “the first parliamentary chamber to adopt the relevant resolution before the establishment of the Chamber of Deputies”.

According to Jan Kysela, secretary of the commission and professor of constitutional law, the time lag between the meetings of parliamentary chambers to decide on the activation of constitutional article 66 should not be too great due to possible requests to review whether Zeman’s health did not change between chambers.

The transfer of the powers of the president could take, if necessary, until the end of Zeman’s term at the beginning of next year, the constitution does not address this. However, according to Kysela, any of the chambers could revoke it if it withdrew its consent to the transfer of powers. The Count agreed with that. According to Hrab, one of the chambers could proceed with the abolition if, for example, Zeman personally showed in a significant speech that he was able to take office again. In that case, a medical examination of Zeman’s regained abilities would not be necessary for Hrab.

The vice-chairman of the commission, Michael Canov from the Mayors’ Club, reprimanded the incumbent Speaker of the House, Radek Vondráček (YES), that he had not convened the current House of Commons on this matter, which ends on Thursday. “In my opinion, he was obliged to do so on the basis of information found by the Senate, or he should have found it out himself before,” Canov said. He pointed out that for several weeks no one would serve as commander in chief of the armed forces. “The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies did not and should have acted,” added Miroslava Němcová (ODS), a member of the commission and former chairwoman of the lower house. However, according to the House Rules, Members must be invited to a meeting at least five days in advance.

Part of the commission’s meeting was closed to the public for about three-quarters of an hour when Senate Chairman Miloš Vystrčil (ODS) informed it about the content of Zavoral’s letter on the president’s health and forecast of further developments and the commission members discussed it.