New Constitution of the Czech Republic

Pavel Kohout

Pavel Kohout

Facing the need for key legislature in the areas of civil service and economic recovery, the Czech public debate focuses on possible changes of the local political system in order to achieve stability. Member of the Czech Council of Economic Advisers (NERV) and financial economist Pavel Kohout, presented his new book discussing the possible reform of the Czech constitution at another MUN Prague lecture. The aim of the reform would be to achieve better governance in the areas of fiscal sustainability and direct responsibility of elected representatives to their voters. During his speech, Mr. Kohout explained the principles of the adjustments to the constitution are derived from the constitution of the United States.

Pavel Kohout mentioned that he too has participated in a simulation conference as a high school student, dealing with the break-up of Czechoslovakia and that this experience has taught him that it is absolutely necessary to be aware of the cultural and historical background of a country when attempting to adjust its political or economic mechanisms. It is quite easy to come to the conclusion that simply importing systems devised for other societies will not work, but there is always a possibility for inspiration abroad as Kohout explained.

The current parliamentary system has several drawbacks according to Kohout’s writings. First, the power is distributed amongst an inadequate number of decision makers (200 deputies, 81 senators and the president), who have little accountability towards their decisions as the final decision is divided amongst all of them. Secondly, the 200 deputies in the parliament are not elected as individuals representing a constituency, they are selected by the political parties based on their loyalty to the party, rather than their voters. Lastly, there is a lack of the renowned system of checks and balances as in the US system. Legislators have access to immunity protection when suspected of criminal acts and the majority in the parliament may decide to protect its members against justice.

The answer proposed by Mr. Kohout is to move towards a system of presidential or semi-presidential democracy where it is the directly elected president who has the responsibility and accountability for his/her decisions and may be limited by constitutional limits such as the balanced budget law that Kohout also supports. The end of Pavel Kohout’s lecture raised a lively debate with students with many various remarks to the idea and Mr. Kohout ended the debate with a statement that he does not expect his proposal to be realised in full, however he would like to point out a possible framework for the nowadays talked-about structural reform.