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THE SENATE OF THE CZECH REPUBLIC

 

I.- COMPOSITION

81 senators elected by direct universal suffrage.

II.- ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Polling system : majority voting with two ballots. 81 single member constituencies.

 

Duration of mandate : 6 years, with one-third of senators being elected every two years.

 

Most recent elections : 12 October 2012, 20 October 2012

 

Age of eligibility for election : 40 years.

 

Incompatibility with other office: the office of President of the Republic or of judge are not compatible with the post of senator. However, the post of senator is compatible with holding office in Government.

III- SESSIONS OF THE ASSEMBLY

The Assembly is continuously in session.

 

The Senate may decide upon an adjournment, of not more than 120 days per year; the President of the Senate may curtail this period of adjournment by reconvening the session, and is required to do so if requested by the President of the Republic, by the Government, or by at least one-fifth of the senators.

IV.- RELATIONSHIPS WITH THE OTHER CHAMBER AND THE EXECUTIVE

A - LEGISLATIVE POWERS

1) Legislative initiative

 

The Senate has the power to initiate legislation (concurrently with individual deputies, groups of deputies, the Government or the Representative Assembly of a higher level self-governing territorial area). The only exceptions to this are the Bill on the State Budget, and the Bill on the State Annual Account, which are both initiated by the Government.

 

2) Right of amendment

 

 

 

The Senate has this right.

 

3) Legislative procedure

 

a) Submission

 

Bills are submitted to the Senate for a second reading, with the exception of bills on the State Budget, and on the State Annual Account, which are debated and voted upon only by the Chamber of Deputies.

 

b) Examination in public session

 

The Senate may adopt a resolution, within 30 days from the date of transmission of a bill, by which:

· it approves or rejects the bill;

· it refers it back to the Chamber of Deputies with its proposed amendments;

· it expresses its wish not to debate the bill;

· if it does not debate the bill within 30 days, the text of the bill is automatically passed

c) Continuation of the procedure

 

1 - If the Senate rejects the bill, it must be adopted by the Chamber of Deputies by a majority of its members.

 

2 - If the Senate has amended the bill, the text of the bill is first submitted to the Chamber of Deputies in its amended version and then - if this version is not adopted - in its original draft; it must then be passed by a majority of the members of the Chamber of Deputies.

 

*In these two instances (1 and 2) the Chamber of Deputies cannot table amendments.

 

3 - The resolution of the Senate that it does not wish to debate a bill implies the adoption of that bill.

 

d) Specific Provisions

 

1 - Bills on electoral law and those governing the principles by which the two chambers operate and the relationships between them and with external organisations, and bills on the regulation of the Senate, must be approved by both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate.

 

2 - The bill on the State Budget and on the State Annual Account shall be debated and voted on in public session by the Chamber of Deputies alone.

 

3 - If the Chamber of Deputies has been dissolved, the Senate may, if it is a matter of urgency, and on the proposal of the Government, adopt legislative Acts on areas which would normally require parliamentary bills, except in the following areas: constitutional, electoral, budgetary and other financial regulation, and international treaties governing human rights and fundamental liberties.

 

These legislative acts must then be approved by the Chamber of Deputies in its first reconvened session. If they are not so approved, they shall lapse.

B - POWER OF SUPERVISION

The Senate does not have this power.

C - APPROVAL OF TREATIES

International treaties requiring parliamentary approval are adopted by Parliament in the same way as parliamentary bills.

 

Parliamentary approval is required for international treaties governing human rights and fundamental liberties, general political and economic treaties, and treaties whose implementation requires a law.

D - RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

The President of the Republic has the right to participate in sessions of the Senate, its committees and commissions (as is also the case for sessions of the Chamber of Deputies).

 

He may address these sessions by request.

E - RIGHT OF ACCESS BY THE GOVERNMENT

A member of the Government has the right to participate in sessions of the Senate, its committees and commissions (as is also the case for sessions of the Chamber of Deputies).

 

He may address these sessions by request.

V - SPECIFIC PROVISIONS

A - Adoption of constitutional laws by a 3/5 majority of the senators present (and by a 3/5 majority of all deputies).
B - The same majority is required for the approval of international treaties governing human rights and fundamental liberties.
C - SPECIFIC CIRCUMSTANCES

Approval - by a majority of all senators (and of all deputies) - of the declaration of a state of war and of the authorisation of the presence of foreign armed forces on the territory of the Czech Republic.

 

Parliament may decide to declare a state of war if the Czech Republic is attacked, or if it is necessary to meet international treaty obligations concerning joint defence against aggression.

 

Armed forces may only be sent outside the territory of the Czech Republic with the authorisation of both chambers.

D - THE PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE

1) The President of the Senate is elected and dismissed by the Senate (as are the Vice-presidents).

 

2) A senator who is a member of the Government cannot become President or Vice-president of the Senate, or a member of [Senate] committees, commissions of inquiry or parliamentary commissions.

E - THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC

1) Election of the President of the Republic (by Parliament meeting in joint session).

 

The procedure for this is the following:

 

1. A candidate for election must be proposed by at least ten deputies or ten senators.

 

2. The candidate receiving a majority of votes of all deputies and all senators shall be elected as President of the Republic.

 

3. If no candidate receives a majority of the votes of both deputies and senators, a second ballot shall take place within fourteen days.

 

4. The candidate who has received most votes from the Chamber of Deputies and the candidate who has received most votes from the Senate will compete in the second ballot.

 

5. If several candidates have received the same number of votes from either the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate, the votes from both chambers will be combined; the candidate who thus receives the highest number of votes will pass to the second ballot.

 

6. The candidate receiving the majority of votes from the deputies and senators present shall be elected.

 

7. If, in the second ballot, a President of the Republic is not elected, a third ballot shall be held within fourteen days, and the candidate from the second ballot receiving the majority of votes of the deputies and senators present, shall be elected.

 

8. If, after the third ballot, no President of the Republic is elected, a new election shall be held.

 

2) Exclusive power of the Senate to indict the President of the Republic for high treason (judgement by the Constitutional Court).

 

3) Vacancy of the office of the Presidency of the Republic

 

a) Establishment of a serious impediment to the ability of the President of the Republic to carry out his duties (by resolution of both chambers).

 

b) If the office of the President of the Republic becomes vacant, and if the Chamber of Deputies has been dissolved (since its President is normally invested with these powers), the President of the Senate shall exercise some of the functions of the President of the Republic (nomination and dismissal of the Government [in the latter case, or in the case of resignation of the Government, the President will charge the Government with temporary responsibility for his functions until a new Government is nominated], convocation of the Session of the Chamber of Deputies, nomination of judges for the Constitutional Court and of Members of the Council for the National Bank of the Czech Republic).

F - CONSTITUTIONAL COURT

1) Agreement of the Senate is required

 

- for the nomination, by the President of the Republic, of judges for the Constitutional Court;

 

- for the instigation of criminal prosecutions of judges in the Constitutional Court.

 

2) Institution of proceedings by the President of the Senate if a judge in the Constitutional Court is arrested in the act of committing a crime, he must be released if the President of the Senate does not bring him before a court within 24 hours.

 

3) A definitive decision must then be taken by the Senate at its next session, on the admissibility of the criminal proceedings instituted.