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List of Presidents of Czechoslovakia (WFAC)

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President of the Czechoslovak Federative Republic
Prezident Česko-Slovenská federativní / federativná republika
Presidential Standard of the Republic of Czechoslovakia (Munich Goes Sour)
Presidential Standard
Karel Schwarzenberg (President) (MGS)
Incumbent
Karel Schwarzenberg

since 22 October 2012
Style His Excellency
Residence Prague Castle
Seat Prague
Appointer Popular vote
Term length Five years
Renewable once
Inaugural holder Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
Formation Constitution of Czechoslovakia

The President of the Czechoslovakia is the head of state of Czechoslovakia. Unlike his counterparts in Austria and Hungary, who are generally considered figureheads, the Czech president has a considerable role in political affairs, despite having limited constitutional powers. Because many of his powers can only be exercised with the signatures of both himself and the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, responsibility over some political issues is effectively shared between the two offices.

The President according to the Czechoslovak Constitution

The president is elected by both chambers of parliament in joint session (acting in accordance with the standing orders of the lower chamber). The presidential term of office was originally of seven years, with a term limit of two terms (the first president was exempted from this provision). In 1946, this was reduced to five years. Candidates for the presidency have to be at least 35 years old.

Although the constitutional powers of the presidency were limited, the personal prestige of the first president, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and the weakness of successive governments meant that the president wielded in practice more authority than the plain text of the constitution suggested. The constitution laid down that all executive functions rested with the government except as expressly assigned to the president. However, as the president could address written or verbal messages to parliament, appoint and dismiss ministers, attend and preside over cabinet meetings, and demand written reports from individual ministers, presidential influence on the executive was in practice considerable.

The president concluded and ratified international treaties, saving that treaties imposing personal or military burdens upon the subject or involving territorial changes required parliamentary consent. The president could return to parliament, with accompanying observations, any law. Whereupon, parliament could by majority vote re-affirm the law to bypass the president. If there was no majority in the senate, then the lower chamber could pass the law unilaterally by a subsequent vote by means of a three-fifths majority, bypassing the upper chamber and the president. The president was commander-in-chief, and appointed all high-ranking officers, university professors, judges and senior civil servants.

In periods when the post of the president of the Czechoslovak Republic is vacant, some presidential duties are carried out by the Prime Minister. However, the Czechoslovak constitution does not define anything like a post of acting president.

List of officeholders (since 1919)

Republic of Czechoslovakia (1918–1938)

# Portrait Name
(Born-Died)
Term of Office Political Party Presidential mandate
Took Office Left Office # Elected
1 Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk
(1850–1937)
14 November 1918 1927 Independent 1 1920
1927 1934 2 1927
1934 14 December 1935 2 1934
2 Edvard Beneš Edvard Beneš
(1884–1948)
18 December 1935 28 October 1938 Czechoslovak National Social Party
(ČSNS)
1 1935
Foreign Minister 1918–1935, Prime Minister 1921.

Federative Republic of Czechoslovakia (since 1945)

# Portrait Name
(Born-Died)
Term of Office Political Party Presidential mandate
Took Office Left Office # Elected
(2) Edvard Beneš Edvard Beneš
(1884–1948)
28 October 1945 3 September 1948 Czechoslovak National Social Party
(ČSNS)
2 1945
Died in office.
3 Jan Masaryk Jan Masaryk
(1886–1972)
1948 1953 Independent 1 1948
1953 1958 2 1953
Son of first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Diplomat and Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia from 1938 to 1953.
4 Štefan Osuský Štefan Osuský
(1889-1973)
1958 1963 Independent 1 1958
1963 1968 2 1963
First Slovak president. Diplomat and Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia from 1953 to 1961.
5 Ludvík Svoboda (President) Ludvík Svoboda
(1895-1981)
1968 1973 Independent 1 1968
1973 1975 2 1973
Former General of the Czechoslovak Army. Fought in World War I, with the Czechoslovak Legions and in World War II, and regarded as a national hero. First president voted into office by direct election. Resigned due to health reasons.
6 Miloslav Rechcígl, senior Miloslav Rechcígl
(1904–1985)
1975 1980 Republican Party
(RS)
1 1975
1980 1982 2 1980
Prime Minister 1961–1968. Resigned due to health reasons.
7 Alexander Dubček President (MGS) Alexander Dubček
(1921–2006)
1982 1987 Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party
(ČSSD)
1 1982
1987 1992 2 1987
Second Slovak president. Prime Minister 1968–1981.
8 Madeleine Jana Körbelová (MGS) Madeleine Jana Körbelová
(1937–)
1992 1997 Czechoslovak National Social Party
(ČSNS)
1 1992
1997 2002 2 1997
Foreign Minister 1979–1983, 1988–1992. First female president and the first president of Jewish origin.
9 Jiří Dienstbier (President) (MGS) Jiří Dienstbier
(1937–2011)
2002 2007 Czechoslovak Social Democrats
(ČSD)
1 2003
Prime Minister 1984–1992. Lost re-election bid.
10 Karel Schwarzenberg (President) (MGS) Karel Schwarzenberg
(1937–)
22 October 2007 2012 Czechoslovak People's Party
(ČSL)
1 2007
2012 Incumbent 2 1997
Prime Minister 1988–1991, Foreign Minister 1983-1988 and 1997–2003.

See also

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