Constitutional Court upholds objections over law on political parties


For the second time in just over a month, the Constitutional Court has upheld objections to laws passed by the country's two main parties, the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Civic Democrats. In both cases, the laws concerned constitutional amendments on the Czech election system and the way in which political parties are funded. It has been hailed as a defeat for the larger parties and a victory for President Vaclav Havel, who brought the matter to the Constitutional Court. Nick Carey has the details...

Vaclav HavelVaclav Havel The law that was the subject of the Constitutional Court ruling on Tuesday concerned political parties and their eligibility for state funding The law, which was passed in both houses of Parliament last as part of the power sharing agreement between the ruling Social Democrats and the opposition Civic Democrats, stipulated that political parties would receive state funding based on their parliamentary representation. Smaller parties that failed to gain the five percent of the vote necessary to attain parliamentary representation, would no longer be eligible for state funding.

President Vaclav Havel, who vetoed the law, took the matter to the Constitutional Court, as he felt that favouring larger parties and cutting funding to smaller parties was unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court upheld his objection, as the court's judges felt the law contravened the Czech constitution. This is the second time in just over a month that the court has upheld objections by the president to laws passed by the two main political parties. Last month, the court ruled that the election law, which critics saw as an attempt to create a two party system, was also unconstitutional. According to commentator Jan Urban, the court's ruling is an important development for the Czech political system:

Since the original law was passed, the Social Democrats and the Civic Democrats lost their Senate majority in elections late last year. According to commentator, Jan Urban, this means the two largest parties no longer have the power to push a similar law through parliament: