|President of the Czechoslovak Federative Republic
Prezident Česko-Slovenská federativní / federativná republika
|Term length||Five years|
|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)
Federative Republic of Czechoslovakia (since 1945)
|Term of Office||Political Party||Presidential mandate|
|Took Office||Left Office||#||Elected|
|(2)|| Edvard Beneš|
|28 October 1945||3 September 1948|| Czechoslovak National Social Party|
|Died in office.|
|3|| Jan Masaryk|
|Son of first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. Diplomat and Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia from 1938 to 1953.|
|4|| Štefan Osuský|
|First Slovak president. Diplomat and Foreign Minister of Czechoslovakia from 1953 to 1961.|
|5|| Ludvík Svoboda|
|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|
|1975||1980|| Republican Party|
|Prime Minister 1961–1968. Resigned due to health reasons.|
|7|| Alexander Dubček|
|1982||1987|| Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party|
|Second Slovak president. Prime Minister 1968–1981.|
|8|| Madeleine Jana Körbelová|
|1992||1997|| Czechoslovak National Social Party|
|Foreign Minister 1979–1983, 1988–1992. First female president and the first president of Jewish origin.|
|9|| Jiří Dienstbier|
|2002||2007||Czechoslovak Social Democrats|
|Prime Minister 1984–1992. Lost re-election bid.|
|10|| Karel Schwarzenberg|
|22 October 2007||2012|| Czechoslovak People's Party|
|Prime Minister 1988–1991, Foreign Minister 1983-1988 and 1997–2003.|