The President of the Czech Republic is Miloš Zeman, born 28 September 1944. He was elected as the third President of the Czech Republic in early 2013. He is the first directly elected president in Czech history. As formal head of state, the president is granted specific powers such as the right to nominate Constitutional Court judges, dissolve parliament under certain conditions, and enact a veto on legislation. Presidents had been elected by the parliament for 5-year terms, but parliament passed an amendment to the constitution in 2012 that changed the method of presidential election to direct popular vote beginning in 2013. The presidential term remains 5 years with a limit of two consecutive terms.
The legislature is bicameral, with a Chamber of Deputies (200 seats) and a Senate (81 seats). With the split of the former Czechoslovakia, the powers and responsibilities of the now-defunct federal parliament were transferred to the Czech National Council, which renamed itself the Chamber of Deputies. Chamber delegates are elected from 14 regions--including the capital, Prague--for 4-year terms, on the basis of proportional representation. The Czech Senate is patterned after the U.S. Senate and was first elected in 1996; its members serve for 6-year terms with one-third being elected every 2 years.
The country's highest court of appeal is the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court, which rules on constitutional issues, is appointed by the president. Its members serve 10-year terms.
Parliamentary elections were held in May 2010, and a center-right coalition government was formed of the Civic Democratic Party (ODS), the formerly local Prague party Public Affairs (VV), and the newly formed TOP 09. Former Labor Minister Petr Nečas of ODS became Prime Minister.
The Czech Republic joined the European Union in 2004, and held the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from January 1 to June 30, 2009.
Principal Government Officials
President-- Miloš Zeman
Prime Minister--Bohuslav Sobatka
Foreign Minister--Lubomír Zaorálek
Defense Minister--Martin Stropnický
Czech Ambassador to Washington--Petr Gandalovič
The Embassy of the Czech Republic is located at 3900 Spring of Freedom Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008 (tel. 202-274-9101).