“The president goes to court?” headlines Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes. Three days before the end of his term, the Senate has voted to bring a charge of high treason against outgoing President Václav Klaus in the Constitutional Court. This is a first such charge to be brought in the history of the Czech Republic. If it pursues the complaint, the Court must try him to establish whether he violated the constitution.
Initiated by opposition Social Democrat senators, 38 senators backed bringing the charge, compared to 30 who voted against it. The case is linked to Klaus’s controversial amnesty on January 1 of 7,400 prisoners and, more significantly, the halt of several legal cases involving serious financial crimes and corruption.
The senators also argue that the president acted unconstitutionally when he delayed the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty and when he ignored the ruling of the Supreme Administrative Court by refusing to name a new judge for four years.
Even if there are “good arguments against the accusation – Klaus could come out of it as a martyr, which may still help his political career – it is a good thing that the senators are forcing him to face his responsibilities, says Czech weekly Respekt. The magazine notes that –
on several occasions, Klaus acted like a tin-pot dictator, treating the constitution like a calendar, and ripping out pages (…) He treated it in such an arbitrary manner that now we need to clarify certain points – for example concerning the amnesty and the ratification of international treaties.
Mladá Fronta Dnes, sees the treason –
as an example of the isolation in which Klaus forms his opinions. […] Václav Klaus’s error during his second presidential term is interesting because other politicians also suffer from it. In other words, their opinions are formed in a state of greater and greater isolation from reality. […] We will see how his successor, Miloš Zeman, fares.”