President appoints two governments, vetoes few bills, does not grant pardon
Prague, Sept 4 (ČTK) — Selection of the activities of Miloš Zeman, 70, the first Czech president chosen in a direct election, in the first half of his term (inaugurated on March 8, 2013):
Appointment of governments and ministers:
Zeman appointed two new governments right in the first year of his presidency. After the fall of Petr Necas’s (Civic Democrats, ODS) centre-right government in June 2013, Zeman appointed a caretaker government of Jiří Rusnok in spite of disagreement of a majority of parties in parliament. The Chamber of Deputies did not vote confidence in the team. After the early general election in October 2013, Zeman appointed the center-left coalition government of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, +CSSD) after a record delay of 95 days. Besides, he has appointed five new ministers who replaced those who decided to leave the government, or whom the prime minister decided to change.
Zeman has declared the date of three national elections during his presidency. They were the early general election in October 2013, the European Parliament election in May 2014 and the local election in October 2014. He also declared several by-elections to the Senate.
Zeman has three times made use of his power to return a bill for reworking. One of them was an amendment to the civil service law last October. However, the Chamber of Deputies outvoted the veto and Zeman eventually turned to the Constitutional Court (US) that dismissed Zeman’s proposal that the bill be abolished. It only complied with one of Zeman’s proposals concerning the bill.
Zeman has visited minimally once all 14 regions, taking interest in the local problems, having discussions with citizens and local politicians, and visiting a number of firms.
Zeman has several times aroused attention both at home and abroad with his statements about some foreign political issues. One of them, in which Zeman said the Ukrainian conflict is a civil war and criticized the anti-Russian sanctions, was attacked by the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. Zeman also regularly calls for a stricter action against Islamic terrorists in the world. He drew attention with a statement of May 2014, in which he connected the Islamic radicals’ bloody attacks and the whole Muslim ideology. In the European Parliament, he called for harmonization of the EU’s tax policy and a joint European military, and he criticized the EU bureaucracy. His foreign trips are designed to promote the Czech economy.
Still before the presidential election, Zeman pledged not to declare any amnesties and not to grant pardons, with the exception of a strictly defined list of humanitarian cases. He transferred the power to grant pardons to the Justice Ministry in November 2014.
Appointment of judges:
Zeman has appointed ten new or old-new Constitutional Court judges (he proposed 13 personalities to the Senate that rejected three of them). He has appointed Pavel Samal chairman of the Supreme Court. Zeman has also appointed several tens of new judges.
Zeman stirred the moods in society by his negative stance on the appointing of several professors and the following proposal that he will give up this traditional presidential power. Besides dozens of professors, Zeman has appointed former caretaker prime minister Jiri Rusnok a member of the Czech National Bank’s (CNB) Bank Board, Miloslav Kala president of the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ), former constitutional judge Ivana Janů chairwoman of the Office for the Protection of Personal Data (ÚOOÚ), Josef Bečvář chief-of-staff, and others.
Zeman has twice decorated outstanding personalities on the October 28 national holiday (anniversary of establishment of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918). The choice of some names was criticized by the media that said he rewarded his supporters. Zeman was also criticized for that he did not invite two university rectors with whom he was in dispute in the past to the ceremonial events.