Czech President shows support for electronic voting, cannabis legalization

Petr Pavel attended the Colours of Ostrava music festival yesterday, and addressed some key topics during a discussion forum. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 22.07.2023 11:46:00 (updated on 22.07.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Czech President Petr Pavel attended the Colours of Ostrava music festival yestersday, and addressed some key topics while he was there. The president expressed his support for modernizing the electoral process by promoting electronic voting, and showed openness to the idea of legalizing cannabis and granting pardons to individuals currently incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses.

The President's appearance at the festival drew a warm reception, resembling the arrival of rock stars. The packed Aula Gong concert hall, with a capacity of 1,500 people, greeted him with a resounding standing ovation.

During an hour-long interview as part of the Meltingpot discussion forum, President Pavel proposed the implementation of electronic voting in the Czech Republic, emphasizing the need to move forward with available technology.

"Let's enter the 21st century," Pavel told the crowd. "Let's make an electronic election, as well as collect signatures for the registration of presidential candidates [electronically]."

He sees electronic voting as a modern solution, providing voters the convenience of casting their ballots from home and easing the process for citizens abroad, who often face considerable distances to reach polling stations.

While the President acknowledged that he lacks the direct authority to enforce these changes, he expressed his willingness to raise the topics and engage in informal discussions. He believes that when people demonstrate a strong desire for electronic voting, political parties will naturally embrace the concept and incorporate it into their platforms.

Addressing the topic of cannabis legalization, President Pavel pointed to studies showing that cannabis poses less harm compared to other legal drugs. He deemed it appropriate to consider regulated legalization and raised the question of granting amnesty to individuals currently imprisoned for cannabis-related crimes in the event of such legalization.

"Cannabis, according to a number of studies, does less harm than other legal drugs," Pavel remarked during the discussion forum.

"Considerations for regulated legalization are appropriate. If that were the case, then it would not make sense for those people [convicted of cannabis-related crimes] to continue to sit in prison. It would be appropriate to grant them amnesty."

Additionally, Pavel emphasized the need to rethink the use of presidential pardon authority, which was previously delegated to the Ministry of Justice by his predecessor, Miloš Zeman.

Pavel aims to take back the entire pardon authority, including the responsibilities and personnel dedicated to the pardon process, and has already engaged in discussions with Minister of Justice Pavel Blažek on the matter. The president envisions utilizing it primarily to address miscarriages of justice, disproportionately severe punishments, and cases with significant humanitarian considerations.

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