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Visit at the Parliament of the Czech Republic

by Hugo Paquin

These are interesting times in Czech politics. Following last weekend’s parliamentary elections, negotiations are underway to determine which party will be governing the country. According to many, including the president himself, this process could take months.

In such a fast-evolving political landscape, the opportunity was presented to students from the International and Diplomatic Studies (IDS) program to take part in a guided tour of the Parliament. Under the supervision of Comparative Politics teacher Ing. Mgr. Jan Němec, Ph.D., we headed to the heart of Malá Strana for a visit of Czech Republic’s top-level legislative body and symbol of democratic representation.

We first started the tour by a 15-min video on the history of Parliamentary activities in the Czech Lands. It gave us a recap of important historical milestones, from the 13th century kingdom, to the creation of the first Constitution in 1848, to the election of the first president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, and then the creation of modern day Czech Republic. We then ventured into the building itself, accompanied by a representative of the Information Centre. We learned that the current building was actually a theater at first, the initial seat of the Chamber of Deputies before World War II being the famous Rudolfinum.

We proceeded afterwards with a visit of various foyers, where can be observed many artistic pieces representing Czech landmarks such as the Charles Bridge as well as a representation of Charles IV, all made by local artists. One such piece is an emblem of Czech Republic, designed by Oldřich Kulhánek, the same artist whose name can be found on Czech money. We also saw various rooms where foreign dignitaries are welcomed when they visit Prague. A window also provides sight on the Prague Castle’s wing that is also home to the President.

Since there were no plenary sessions at the time of the visit, we were also able to visit the impressive Chamber of Deputies (or Lower House). Up to 200 deputies sit in this room during plenary sessions, making it the theater of lively exchanges between representatives. The room is in the post-Renaissance style and has been built/decorated almost exclusively by Czech artists and companies.

Overall, during the hour-and-a-half visit, we learned many things about Czech parliamentary activities, its legislative process, parliamentary control of government and parliamentary history. It’s also worth mentioning that the Chamber of Deputies is open to all citizens of the Czech Republic as well as foreign visitors.

Should you want to learn more about the possibility to visit the institution, take a look at the Parliament’s website for more information: http://www.psp.cz/en/sqw/hp.sqw?k=7