Czech Republic

   

Policy Performance

#20

Economic Policies

#28
Despite increasingly positive signs, the Czech Republic falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 28) in terms of economic policies. Its score on this measure has fallen since last year, but still represents a 0.1 point gain relative to 2014.

Rising growth rates have marked the end of a period of stagnation. Unemployment rates are moderate and declining steadily. Parents with young children, low-skilled workers, disabled people and Roma face significant labor-market disadvantages.

The VAT rate has become more progressive. Tax revenues generally enable sustainable budgets, but are not sufficient to finance needed public investments. Deficits have been controlled, with public debt levels low by EU standards. Economic growth has enabled some expansion of domestic demand.

R&D spending is nearing the EU average, but is driven largely by EU structural funds. The government has declined to set an explicit deadline for entering the European Monetary Union.

Social Policies

#20
With a generally effective social system, the Czech Republic receives middling scores with regard to social policies (rank 20). Its overall score on this measure remains unchanged relative to 2014.

Education spending has not recovered from the economic crisis. A lack of preschool facilities persists despite some recent reforms. While income inequality and poverty rates are low, the Roma population is marginalized.

The health care system, based on universal compulsory insurance, offers high-quality services. Outpatient service and prescription copayments, implemented during the crisis, have been abolished. Women’s employment rates are high, though child-care provision is an increasing problem.

A little-used voluntary private-pension program is being eliminated, but retirement-age reforms remain necessary. While the inflow of asylum seekers has been relatively modest, the EU refugee crisis has triggered a highly polarized debate on migration.

Environmental Policies

#17
With a mixed record on environmental issues, the Czech Republic’s score for environmental policies places it in the upper-middle ranks (rank 17) internationally. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Greenhouse-gas and other emissions have shown long-term declines. Surface and groundwater pollution has also diminished. A new climate-protection strategy has been adopted. Polices are generally influenced and often funded by the EU.

A limit on open-cast brown-coal mining has been lifted, triggering controversy and underscoring the priority given to industrial interests. The country is not a driving force in shaping global environmental agendas, and has opposed ambitious CO2-reduction goals.

Democracy

#25

Quality of Democracy

#25
Despite fair and transparent electoral procedures, the Czech Republic falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 25) in terms of democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.5 points relative to 2014.

A major new campaign-financing reform was proposed but not yet passed. Vote-buying incidents forced several local elections to be repeated. Media organizations are increasingly domestically owned, but this has produced polarized and politically motivated reporting. Public media and Internet publications balance media concentration somewhat.

While civil rights are generally respected, the country’s detention of migrants and refugees has been strongly criticized on human-rights grounds. Public opinion strongly opposes integration of refugees. Discrimination against women and Roma is problematic.

Executive actions are typically predictable, although legal ambiguities sometimes cause controversy. Corruption has been a focus, but coalition disagreements stalled implementation of the administration’s strategy. The courts are generally independent.

Governance

#26

Executive Capacity

#32
With a comparatively weak core executive, the Czech Republic scores relatively poorly overall (rank 32) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

EU pressures are producing gradual strategic-planning improvements. The government office lacks the sectoral capacity to evaluate draft bills, instead playing a primarily coordinating function. Line ministries develop policies with input from the government office. Ministerial committees and informal-coordination mechanisms, particularly the coalition council, play an important role.

RIAs are applied to all generally binding laws and administrative regulations. A broad spectrum of societal actors are consulted during the policymaking process, particularly through tripartite councils. Publicly aired coalition disagreements have hampered communication coherence.

Coordination with the EU has become choppier, in part due to opposition to EU refugee-relocation quotas, euro-adoption uncertainties and inconsistent attitudes to further integration. Financial decentralization has given regional governments more autonomy.

Executive Accountability

#12
Characterized by active societal oversight of government activities, the Czech Republic receives a high overall ranking (rank 12) for executive accountability. After a small gain last year, its score on this measure has fallen back to its 2014 level.

Parliamentarians have considerable resources and strong formal oversight powers. The independent audit office closely scrutinizes the use of EU funds. The new ombudswoman has been more assertive than predecessors, actively monitoring conditions in refugee facilities.

The deteriorating, frequently populist media landscape often leaves citizens poorly informed regarding important policy issues. Civil-society organizations have sought to fill the information gap. Negative and inaccurate newspaper reporting on the migration issue has exemplified the lack of quality.

Political-party decision-making is largely centralized. Economic interest groups have considerable resources and policy expertise. The broader civil-society sector is vibrant, with groups showing varying degrees of sophistication.
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