Presidential Chronology

Constitutional Powers

Presidential Activities and Accomplishments:

General Summary

Initial Presidential Term (1989 - 1992)

Presidential Term (1993 - 1998)

Last Presidential Term (1998 - 2003)

Presidential Statistics

Post - presidency


The President


Presidential Chronology (1989 - 2003)

  • December 29th, 1989: After the establishment of a constitution, Vaclav Havel was elected as the country's new, nonpartisan president, and inaugurated at the presidential seat of Prague Castle.
  • June 1990: Reelected for a term extending to 1992
  • July 20th, 1992: Movement for a Democratic Slovakia emerges as Slovakia's leading party, opening the floodgates to Slovakian nationalistic movement for autonomy. Havel resigns from office to show disapproval of and unwillingness to preside over this impending "Velvet Divorce"
  • January 1st, 1993: Official dissolution of Czechoslovakia as a united country to form Czech Republic and Slovakia occurred January 1st, 1993
  • January 26th, 1993: Havel put back in office by election as President of the new Czech Republic.
  • 1998: Commences and is determined to carry out his final term as president (as in accordance with the parliamentary limit of 2 consecutive 5-year presidential terms), despite doubts about his ability to rule, which pervaded on account of a series of earlier medical complications.
  • 2002: Hosts and organizes NATO summit at Prague, the capital of Czech Republic, which doubled as an event of international farewell to his presidency. It was attended by important international figures including U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, in addition to most eminent European leaders.
  • February 3rd, 2003: Official term termination after 13 years as president of the Czech Republic, in addition to two years as leader of the initial, united Czechoslovakia after Communist Reign.


    Constitutional Powers

    By the Articles 62, 63 and 64 of the established constitution of the Czech republic, as president, the president of Czechoslovakia has the authority to wield a range of executive powers pertaining to a variety of institutions. These include, but are not limited to Parliament, the army, and various state institutions such as that of higher education, the Banking Council of the Czech National Bank, the Supreme Inspection Office, the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition, the Securities Commission and the Personal Data Protection Office etc. In an analogous check and balances relationship, a Czech president also has a hand in legislature. In combination with the Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, as well as the Prime Minister, any one of the three can exercise the right not to sign an act passed by the two chambers of Parliament (with the exception of constitutional laws). The president has the unique privilege of appealing to the Constitutional Court to repeal laws, or parts thereof while in office, and is entitled to participation at all government meetings.

    Presidential Activities and Accomplishments:

General Summary

During his presidency, Havel was known to have kept strong contact with the Parliament, delivering speeches in both the Chamber of Deputies and well as the Senate. He worked actively in the government by meeting regularly with leaders of the two chambers, the Prime Minister, committee or commission representatives, and other deputies and ministers of the state. In addition to this, Havel also regularly reached out to regional representatives, local authorities and a variety of apolitical public associations through internal trips around the country to better diagnose and understand problems on a smaller, more intimate scale. While he held power, he used it not only to dedicate himself to concerns of a political nature such as those of the constitution, legal and legislative procedure, political parties and operations of the democratic core, but also to extend personal attention to a spectrum of everyday problems including human rights, other aspects of civic society, as well as environmental development issues that may impact future generations.

Initial Presidential Terms (1989-1990 Interim; 1990 -1992)

Elected as interim president in 1989, he was formally reelected in June of 1990 for a term extending to 1992. Havel sought to restore the national pride and tradition of Czech Republic and its rich culture, as well as the integrity of the presidential position by restoring the Prague Castle residence, in addition to honoring, once again, important state holidays, celebrations of prominent people, and anniversaries of commemorative events. In the years following, he began movements of social reform, presided over parliament, and abolished the death penalty. In a controversial move, he toleratedly ordered the release of all Czech prisoners and the shutting down of national arms factories in the Czech Republic. In 1991, he nominated Burmese resistance leader Aung San Suu Kyi for the Nobel Peace Prize. When the Slovakian movements for its own national identity began in 1992, he opposed the "Velvet Divorce", and resigned on account of it, although he was elected again after the division as President of Czech Republic. In relation to the aforementioned division, Havel said later "I cannot but feel that no matter how strangely it happened then, it is a good thing that it happened," and that "Czechs and Slovaks may be closer today than ever before ... there's no animosity, and they are united in their goals ... we live in an interconnected world and we - Czechs and Slovaks - walk hand in hand in it."

Presidential Term (1993- 1998)

Havel's presidency was highlighted by his numerous internal domestic trips, especially in the period from 1993 to 2002. These trips were taken for the specific purpose of understanding various regions better , their associated economic dynamics, local art and culture, civic, environmental, and political concerns. He went out of his way to connect with local public officials or administration members, and paid close attention to the welfare of minorities (e.g. the Roma), as well as educational issues. Besides meeting with mayors and other district authorities on his trips, he also invited them to Prague Castle to discuss enforcement and creation of administrative or territorial reforms, centering around returning power to the local regions as a way of gradually decentralizing the state to give more freedom to citizens.

The destructive floods of 1997 prompted him to further place emphasis on the importance of environmental protection and revitalization of the land, and minimizing destructive or wasteful human activity in areas already ravaged by mining, industrial waste, and negative commercial and transportation impacts. The question of whether and how far to develop areas such as Most, Sazava, Broumov, Milovice and Libceves, just to name a few, were debated upon and the solutions deliberated by Havel himself in collaboration with environment specialists and professional landscapers. Havel strongly supported and encouraged nationwide events such as the Village of the Year Competitions, sponsored in cooperation between the Ministry for Regional Development and the Association of the Renewal of the Countryside, which spread promotion and awareness of the improvement of rural life.

Last Presidential Term (1998 - 2003)

A major event during his last term as president was his backing of the Czechoslovakian admittance into NATO in 1999, and the ensuing endless preparations for and controversy over the possible entry of Czech republic into the European Union. In September of 2002, he broadcasted a statement to Cuba from a U.S.-based radio station funded by Washington on freedom and the oppressions of totalitarian systems, as a gesture towards spreading democracy to the remaining, essentially-communist states in the world. The same year, he again submitted a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize, this time with the honorable Oswaldo José Payá Sardiñas, founder of the Christian Liberation Movement in Cuba and leader of the 'Varela Project' as nominee. The 2002 NATO summit he hosted and organized at Prague in November doubled as an event of international farewell to his presidency, attended by important international figures such as U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac, in addition to other eminent European leaders. In January 2003, Havel flew to Slovakia for his last foreign visit as president before his official termination on February 3rd after 13 years as president of the Czech republic, and two years as leader of united Czechoslovakia.

Presidential Statistics:

For most of his presidency, Havel had an approval rating of over 80%. This dipped to a little over 50% on account of medical problems that plagued him in his later years, sparking concerns that his ill-health might negatively impact his ability to continue to take on the vast, not to mention strenuous, responsibilities as Czech president. By the end of his presidency, he had reportedly appointed a total of 1439 common court judges, 1280 professors at institutes of higher education, renewed Czech Republic government appointments 4 times (1996, twice 1998, 2002). Havel rejected 22 different acts passed by the parliament, and repealed 9 laws after proposing to the Constitutional Court. Over a period of many years, on every October 28th, the anniversary of the founding of the free Czechoslovak state; Havel gave out 536 state awards at Vladislav Hall in Prague Castle in honor of notable service to the community with the goal of instituting a free democratic society, heroism in defense of their country, and other outstanding accomplishments.


Even after retirement from political office, Vaclav Havel continues to make public comment on the political development of the Czech Republic. Examples of this are his vocal support for the US disarmament of Iraq, and for the referendum for the Czech government to accept the invitation to the join European Union (which was indeed passed). In July 2003, President Bush presented him the Medal of Freedom for his views on US foreign policy. Even now, Havel persists in speaking internationally, and remains an important figure in the Czech Republic.