Czech Chamber of Deputies rejects lawsuit against President Miloš Zeman

As expected, the lower house of Czech parliament, did not give consent to filing a constitutional lawsuit against President Miloš Zeman

ČTK

Written by ČTK Published on 27.09.2019 10:00:02 (updated on 27.09.2019) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Sept 26 (CTK) – The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, as expected, did not give consent to filing a constitutional lawsuit against President Miloš Zeman, proposed by the Senate for his gross violation of the constitution, today.

The government ANO and the Social Democrats (CSSD) as well as the opposition Communists (KSCM), who keep the minority cabinet afloat, and the anti-EU far-right Freedom and Direct Democracy (SPD) voted against it. They said the lawsuit was not substantiated.

Only 58 out of the 130 MPs present expressed consent to the draft lawsuit, while at least 120 votes, a three-fifth majority, were needed for the lawsuit to be filed with the Constitutional Court (US).

The lower house previously rejected the proposal for a secret ballot and the MPs voted openly.

A number of deputies, mainly for ANO and the CSSD, but also from the senior opposition Civic Democrats (ODS) excused themselves from the session.

All MPs for the opposition Pirates, TOP 09 and the Mayors and Independents (STAN) and all ODS and Christian Democrat (KDU-CSL) PMs present supported the lawsuit.

The SPD, KSCM as well as unaffiliated MPs stood up against it unanimously.

In the ANO deputy group, 29 opposed the draft lawsuit and six abstained from the vote. Out of the Social Democrats, four abstained from the vote and only Jaroslav Foldyna voted against the lawsuit.

The Senate and the centre-right opposition in the Chamber of Deputies wanted the constitutional lawsuit to help clearly define the limits of the presidential post. The “connecting element” of the draft was Zeman’s effort to change the current parliamentary system to a semi-presidential one, senator Vaclav Laska (SEN 21), the leading initiator of the lawsuit, said.

The senators claimed eight cases, in which Zeman had violated the Constitution, including his inactivity in naming and dismissing ministers and his steps and appearances that opposed Czech foreign policy.

The motive for the senators to draft the lawsuit was the alleged influencing of the judiciary by Zeman and his aides from the Presidential Office.

Zeman previously labelled the draft lawsuit “a piece of constitutional illiteracy” and dismissed that his steps would be at variance with the constitution.

ANO deputy group chairman Jaroslav Faltynek criticised the Senate’s draft, saying it was very chaotic, inconsistent and lacking the required formalities.

Most of Zeman’s steps cited in the lawsuit were actually no violations of the constitution, CSSD MP Katerina Valachova said.

In reaction to the rejection of the Senate-proposed lawsuit against Zeman, the STAN representatives told a press conference that the movement would like to propose an amendment to the constitution that would enable the Constitutional Court to interpret disputed constitutional laws in a binding way.

According to STAN, such a constitutional change would prevent further constitutional lawsuits and complaints in the future.

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The debate on the lawsuit against Zeman lasted almost the whole session day in the Chamber of Deputies except for a lunch break and the regular question time that was shorter than usual due to the absence of many ministers and PM Andrej Babis (ANO).

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