Law and governance
President Milos Zeman, whose mandate expires today, will enter history with his breaking of constitutional limits and challenging of Czechia's adherence to the West, said Lubomir Kopecek from National Institute SYRI. Both of Zeman's consecutive terms in office were problematic. Zeman divided Czech society, Kopecek writes.
There are only few aspects of Zeman's presidency that can be assessed as positive. Negative aspects prevail, he writes.
"First, I would mention his breaking of the constitutional limits. As an example I will give the appointment of the Jiri Rusnok cabinet in 2013 [by Zeman] without an agreement with parties in parliament on it, the government being of a presidential character," Kopecek says.
"Another aspect concerns the division of society. Milos Zeman largely based his political strategy on mobilising against his opponents and choosing certain concrete targets [to attack]. The third important aspect is his challenging of Czechia's adherence to the West," Kopecek says.
Until the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Zeman navigated the office of the Czech president eastwards, towards Russia and China, Kopecek continues.
"As regards the approach to Russia, it is important that in 2013, Zeman's presidential campaign was organised and financed by people who were interlinked eastwards through their businesses," Kopecek says.
Zeman also invested large political capital in Czech relations to China, with its manufacturing. "When looked at after some time, nothing became of the promised investments. Basically, it is probably the biggest negative aspect of Zeman's presidency that it turned out that economic diplomacy does not work," Kopecek writes.
He says that Zeman, unlike the other previous Czech presidents, has a specific personality feature that partly explains his foreign political orientation. "He likes gigantomania, superb projects, typically construction projects one can see in Russia and China, i.e. the area to the east of Czechia," Kopecek writes.
He says Zeman largely based his strategy on confrontation, polarisation and division of Czech society. "President should unite people rather than divide," Kopecek says.