The Czech Republic, now known as Czechia, is a country located in Central Europe. The country was known as Czechoslovakia and was a part of the Eastern Bloc of the Soviet Union until the 1989 Velvet Revolution put in a new liberal democratic government.
In 1993 Czechoslovakia peacefully split into two countries, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This was the year that the country's current Constitution went into effect and the position of President of the Czech Republic was created. The president was elected by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate until 2012. That year the way the president was elected was changed and since 2013 the president is elected via popular vote.
Presidents of the Czech Republic
Václav Havel (1936-2011) was the first president of Czechoslovakia in 1989 after his Civic Forum party played a significant role in the Velvet Revolution that toppled communism in the country. He was then elected as the first president of the Czech Republic in 1993 following the split of Czechoslovakia, serving form two terms as president until 2003. During his two terms as president Havel was active in the Warsaw Pact and helping to expand membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) into Eastern Europe, with the Czech Republic joining in 1999.
Václav Klaus was the second president of the Czech Republic, serving two terms from 2003 until 2013. Despite the Czech Republic joining the European Union (EU) in 2004 under his watch, Klaus is a noted eurosceptic warning about the loss of sovereignty, being against the euro and even calling for the EU to be scrapped. Klaus's presidency was also controversial due to his skepticism that human activities had impacted climate change. He also criticized the NATO bombing in Yugoslavia during the late 1990s Kosovo crisis and has disagreed with recognition of Kosovo.
Miloš Zeman is the current president of the Czech Republic, having been made the first directly elected president in the country's history in 2013. Since the start of his presidency, Zeman has been embroiled in various scandals and controversies. He has been accused of undermining the parliamentary democracy of the country and expanding his own powers by appointing his friend and ally Jiří Rusnok as the Prime Minister. In 2013 some were unhappy that he refused to grant tenure to literary historian Martin C. Putna, because of his provocative appearance at Prague Gay Pride back in 2011. In October 2013 Zeman met with Michal Hašek, the First Deputy Chairman of the winning Social Democratic Party (ČSSD) and his allies in a secret post-election meeting to negotiate a possible coup within the party.
The Duties of the President of the Czech Republic
The government of Czechia is a parliamentary representative democracy, with the President acting as head of state and commander-in-chief of the country. The president plays a key role in appointing Supreme and Constitutional Court judges with the permission of the Senate, as well as the members of the Czech National Bank Board. The president also has the power to veto any bill back to parliament, unless it is an act that would change the constitution. The president can also dissolve the Chamber of Deputies to force a new election, but this can only be done under certain conditions that are outlined in the constitution.