|Editorial: Czech Democracy 1989–2016. Its development and challenges
|Miloš Brunclík, Michal Kubát
|Czech Parliamentary Regime After 1989: Origins, Developments and Challenges
|The article discusses the major trajectories of the developments of the Czech democratic polity after 1989. It also discusses institutional traditions of the Czech parliamentary regimes dating back to the period of the First Czechoslovak Republic in the inter-war period. The article also analyses the major problems which the Czech parliamentary regime now faces. It is argued that the direct election of the president introduced in 2012–2013 was a serious blunder made by Czech political elites. Instead, the authors of the article argue, the desirable reform efforts should focus on rationalizing the regime in terms of strengthening of the prime ministers within the cabinet and the cabinet itself within the parliamentary system. The reform of the Czech democratic polity should also include putting in pace an electoral system that would facilitate making stable and ideologically coherent government majorities.
|What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know about the Quality of Democracy in the Czech Republic?
|This paper reviews the literature on democratic quality in the Czech Republic where quality is conceptualized as the strength of links between citizens and governments. The review reveals both positive and negative signs. Some linkages – particularly electoral accountability – work reasonably well, while others – especially mandate responsiveness – do not. In some areas, like policy responsiveness, our knowledge is relatively meagre. Surprisingly, time trends are also diverse, with improvement in some areas but decline in others. Given that much of our knowledge of linkages is fragmentary, the paper thus suggests a number of areas where scholars should conduct additional research.
|Legitimacy, Political Disaffection and Discontent with (Democratic) Politics in the Czech Republic
|The goal of this article is to analyse changes in public attitudes towards the political regime, political institutions, political actors and politics in general. For that purpose, four categories of attitudes are differentiated: democratic legitimacy, institutional disaffection, individual disaffection, and political discontent. The study aims at clarifying both this dimensionality of political attitudes and the development of those attitudes in each dimension since the early 1990s. During the time period examined, political discontent underwent considerable growth and the legitimacy of the democratic regime declined. There have been slightly rising levels of institutional disaffection and stable levels of individual disaffection. There is a relatively strong and stable relationship between political discontent and legitimacy at both the aggregate and individual levels. This link suggests that the legitimacy of political regimes in post-communist countries is influenced by their political and economic performance.
|Voting under Different Rules / Governing under Different Rules. The Politics of Electoral Reforms in the Czech Republic
|The average cabinet durability in the Czech Republic stretches to about 21 months. The poor stability and efficiency of these governments has been traditionally attributed to the proportion-based electoral system. This was the single biggest source of argumentation in favour of an electoral reform. Three electoral reforms have been written into law since 1993. They are the focus of this article. One of the reform bids was defeated in parliament (2009); the core parts of another were cancelled by the Constitutional Court, although the reform itself had been previously passed (2000); and the third reform was embraced and led to a change of election rules (2002) and is still applicable today. The main objective of this article is to map the development of electoral reform policy in the Czech Republic. The text will present the details of a planned electoral reform, including the motivation they were based upon. We shall also examine if, and to what extent, an election reform is truly a lasting solution for chronically weak Czech governments. Many political scientists and political leaders still say that election reform is necessary. However, the roots of government crises show that disputes between partners frequently are not the reason. More often, internal tensions in the parties alone are to blame. Parties are not internally cohesive and are weaker for that. Therefore, it would be wrong to assume that a
|Stanislav Balík, Vít Hloušek
|The development and transformation of the Czech party system after 1989
|This article aims to reflect on the multiple dimensions of the Czech party system, examine it for breaking points and, at the intersection of these points, periodize the developments in the years 1989–2014. Attention is paid to four different party system variables – party format, party type, extent of bipolarity, and formation of coalitions and coalition relations.
|Vlastimil Havlík, Petr Voda
|Lost Stability? Re-Alignment of Party Politics and the Rise of New Political Parties in the Czech Republic
|The party system of the Czech Republic has traditionally been considered as a case of exceptional stability in the region of East-Central Europe. It was also almost a perfect example of unidimensional competition. This persistence and stability was undermined by the results of the 2010 and especially 2013 election, which brought the unprecedented rise of new antiestablishment political parties. Using aggregate data, the article analyses the geographical patterns and socio-demographic background of electoral support of the new political parties in the Czech Republic. The main outcome of the article is that the explanatory power of the left-right dimension has been significantly weakened. Consequently, the rise of the new parties should not be seen as a “substitution” but rather as a “transformation” of Czech party politics.
|Jan Wintr, Marek Antoš, Jan Kysela
|Direct election of the president and its constitutional and political consequences
The introduction of direct presidential elections in the Czech Republic was motivated mainly by the bad experience associated with the last indirect election in 2008 and efforts to respond to the long-standing desire of the Czech public for election of the president by popular vote. The intention of the constitution-maker was not a transition to a semi-presidential system, but rather to maintain the existing parliamentary form of government. The key factor for the constitutional position of the president remains the provisions of the Constitution stating that the president is not accountable for the discharge of his office and that the government is accountable for the majority of the head of state’s decisions. Many specific restrictions of the presidency follow from constitutional conventions created over the course of the last 20 years of the independent existence of the Czech Republic and partially relate to rules existing in other parliamentary systems. President Miloš Zeman, vested with stronger legitimacy as a result of direct election, in some cases attempted to change these constitutional conventions and to interpret his powers in an expansive manner.