Friday, 25 April 2014

Poll: President should not grant amnesty on his own

5 April 2013

Prague, April 4 (CTK) - A majority of Czechs (53 percent) believe the president should grant amnesty or pardon only with the consent of another political institution, compared with 41 percent a year ago, according to the latest CVVM agency's poll released Thursday.

Only one fifth of the population would like the president to decide on pardons and amnesties on his own. In the previous poll held in 2012, two fifths shared this view.

One in five respondents said the president should not have such a power at all. The number of those who would like to deprive the president of this right doubled over the past year.

The change in public opinion reflects the debate on a controversial broad amnesty that former president Vaclav Klaus declared on January 1, 2013, the pollsters said.

Klaus's amnesty was criticised especially for applying to prosecution of suspects in big cases of corruption and fraud.

The presidential powers should remain unchanged, 45 percent of Czechs agreed in the poll.

One third (32 percent) said they would like the powers of president extended. In 2012, only 20 percent held this view.

One in six (16 percent) held the opposite view that the presidential powers should be limited.

CVVM says the shift towards broader powers can be explained by the recent election in which the Czech president was chosen directly for the first time.

New President Milos Zeman replaced Klaus on March 8.

In the Czech political system, the president has rather limited powers, including the appointment of members of the Constitutional Court and central bank and the right of veto over new laws. The position of president is strongest in foreign policy.

Most Czechs have believed the head of state should be elected directly for a long time. The support for a direct presidential election increased from 61 percent to 73 percent over the past year.

The pollsters said this indicates that the first direct election met people's expectations.

Czechs are more willing to accept a more active attitude to the government by a directly elected president, the poll showed.

Nearly two thirds (64 percent) said the president should interfere in the government's work to a limited extent. Eighteen percent said they believe the president should not interfere at all.

The poll was conducted among 1059 people aged over 15 in early March.

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