Czech MPs mull suspension of Klaus' powers over Lisbon treaty
2009-06-30 0:00

By Andrew Rettman |

The Czech social democrat party is discussing the possibility of suspending president Vaclav Klaus' powers if he does not sign the EU's Lisbon treaty.

The temporary suspension would require a simple majority of 41 votes in the country's 81-seat senate and would allow caretaker prime minister Jan Fischer to sign the document instead.

Social democrat senator Alena Gajduskova is leading an "intensive debate" on the subject in her party, the secretary of the senate's constitutional commission, Jan Kysela, told EUobserver.

Ms Gajduskova's campaign is also linked to president Klaus' refusal to sign off on the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which was ratified by the Czech parliament in October 2008.

The discussion is likely to pick up steam in the senate's next plenary session starting 20 July. Senators are also waiting for the Czech Constitutional Court's decision on Lisbon before pressing ahead with the motion, Mr Kysela added.

The Czech parliament ratified the Lisbon treaty in May.

The court is expected to rule on Lisbon's compatibility with the Czech constitution in September. But the decision could come in late July if judges throw out the legal challenge on technical grounds.

The eurosceptic Mr Klaus vowed earlier this week that he would be "the last" politician in Europe to sign Lisbon. The treaty is also awaiting final approval in Germany and Poland, as well as a second referendum in Ireland.

The president's powers could be suspended on grounds that he is trying to act above the law.

"There is nothing in the constitution that gives the president the right to veto decisions of the country's highest institutions. Otherwise we could be considered as some kind of absolutist monarchy," former Constitutional Court judge Vojtech Cepl told newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes on Thursday (25 June).

It is unclear if a social democrat motion against Mr Klaus would secure enough votes, however.

The pro-Lisbon party has 29 of the 81 senate seats. But the conservative ODS faction, which has become more anti-Lisbon since the ODS government fell earlier this year, has 35 votes.

"It depends how many people would turn up [to a vote]," Mr Kysela said.

"The probability is very low. It's the opinion of just a few senators and not of the whole chamber. The president of the senate, Mr Premysl Sobotka [an ODS party member], has said he doesn't agree with the suspension," senate press spokesman, Petr Kostka, said.

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