Czech Republic


Policy Performance


Economic Policies

Despite numerous positive signs, the Czech Republic falls into the middle ranks (rank 21) in terms of economic policies. Its score on this measure represents a gain of 0.7 points relative to 2014.

Growth rates declined in 2016 due to slow draw-down of EU funds, but remained healthy. A fiscal surplus was achieved thanks to unexpectedly high revenues. The economy still relies on EU co-financed investment, and on multinational companies seeking low wages. This will make it difficult to bring income levels to match those in wealthier EU countries.

Unemployment rates are moderate and declining steadily, with rising employment rates. Parents with young children, low-skilled workers, disabled people and Roma face significant labor-market disadvantages.

Direct taxes, including the flat personal income tax, are low. Public debt is low by EU standards. An effort to pass a constitutional fiscal-responsibility law failed. 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

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.

Educational outcomes are good overall, but strongly influenced by socioeconomic background. A higher-education reform is underway. While income inequality and poverty rates are low, the Roma population is marginalized, and municipal and social housing is a problem in some areas.

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

A new round of pension reforms may have undermined sustainability. Integration policy has been updated to reflect an immigrant community large by regional standards. While the inflow of asylum seekers has been relatively modest, the EU refugee crisis has triggered a highly polarized debate on migration.

Environmental Policies

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 climate-protection strategy has been adopted that reflects international commitments and EU strategies.

However, a limit on open-cast brown-coal mining was recently lifted, raising questions about climate goals 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.



Quality of Democracy

Despite fair and transparent electoral procedures, the Czech Republic falls into the middle ranks (rank 19) in terms of democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 points relative to 2014.

A major new reform has significantly strengthened campaign-financing regulations, although some key issues remain unaddressed. The minister of finance is a major media-company owner, and has used his holdings to strengthen his political power. This helped spur a new law barring media owners from holding first-chamber parliamentary mandates.

Civil rights are generally respected. Police forces are occasionally criticized for protest policies. Discrimination against women and Roma is problematic, and Muslims are increasingly subject to hate speech and discriminatory treatment.

Executive actions are typically predictable, although legal ambiguities sometimes cause controversy. The president has repeatedly shown disrespect for the law. The courts are generally independent. Corruption remains widespread, but little has been done to address the issue effectively.



Executive Capacity

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 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Despite EU planning requirements, planning quality is poor. The government office lacks the sectoral capacity to evaluate draft bills, instead playing a primarily coordinating function. It compensates for this weakness through the use of consultants. Line ministries develop policies with input from the government office. The coalition council plays a key coordinating role.

RIAs are applied to most generally binding laws and administrative regulations. A broad spectrum of societal actors are consulted during the policymaking process, particularly through tripartite councils. Tension within the coalition has undermined communication coherence and reduced the government’s ability to achieve objectives.

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. Irregularities in public procurement have been addressed through EU pressure and stronger oversight.

Executive Accountability

Characterized by active societal oversight of government activities, the Czech Republic receives a high overall ranking (rank 12) for executive accountability. Its score on this measure is unchanged compared to its 2014 level.

Parliamentarians have considerable resources and strong formal oversight powers. The independent audit office closely scrutinizes the use of EU funds, and proposals have been made to expand its powers. The text of ombuds decisions are now available online.

The deteriorating, frequently populist media landscape often leaves citizens poorly informed regarding important policy issues. Negative and inaccurate newspaper reporting on the migration issue has exemplified the lack of quality. Activist watchdog organizations have nevertheless had considerable policymaking influence in some areas.

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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