Power Hungry President Zeman if Re-Elected Would Expand Presidential Powers

Czech President Milos Zeman

Prague, Nov 18 (CTK) – Most Czech presidential candidates consider the current powers of head of state sufficient, unlike President Milos Zeman, and they would not change the constitution over them, they said in a CTK poll released today.


However, some of them said they would welcome partial changes in the president’s powers, for instance, would give him the right to propose laws and would abolish the power to halt criminal prosecution.


CTK asked the candidates whether they consider the current presidential powers sufficient or they would strengthen them in relation to the direct election.


Zeman, who will seek re-election in January, did not answer the questions.


Physician Marek Hilser said the president’s powers as defined in the constitution were sufficient. Their strengthening in the system of a parliamentary republic would cause tension and unbalance, he added.


“A president who commands a natural authority can positively influence the situation in the country even without his powers being strengthened,” Hilser said.


Former Science Academy chairman Jiri Drahos and Skoda Auto former board chairman Vratislav Kulhanek, candidate of the Civic Democratic Alliance (ODA), are not considering strengthening the president’s powers either.


The Czech constitutional system is well-balanced and it must only be respected, Drahos said.


Former ambassador to France Pavel Fischer said a change in the president’s powers would require an amendment to the constitution, and that he would not considerably interfere in its text. “Let us rather change a political style,” he said.


Defence and Security Industry Association President Jiri Hynek, running for the Realists marginal party, said he would not extend the powers of head of state either. On the contrary, he said he would abolish the power to pardon a person who is prosecuted before a court verdict is issued.


Entrepreneur and lyricist Michal Horacek also considers the current powers of the president sufficient. However, he minds the president’s irrevocability, caused by the direct election. “I am for citizens to be able to dismiss the president in a referendum, like in the neighbouring Slovakia and Austria,” he said.


Former PM Mirek Topolanek would not like to amend the constitution due to the president’s powers either. The constitution gives the president quite a big space to act within the framework of the constitution, good morals and habits and enables him to react to developments flexibly, he said.


“The president is basically to see to the constitutional character of the whole process, to protect democracy, freedom and human rights, represents the country and not to be a disgrace,” Topolanek added.


The Reasonable party head Petr Hannig said he would only add to the presidential powers the possibility to propose bills and changes to the constitution that would be submitted to parliament for a regular approval procedure.


Zeman expressed a similar view in the past.


He said in early October that he would like to extend the powers of a directly elected head of state to be able to propose bills and not to need co-signing of the PM on some decisions, such as the presentation of state decorations.