Czech Republic

   

Policy Performance

#17

Economic Policies

#18
With numerous positive signs evident, the Czech Republic falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 18) in terms of economic policies. Its score on this measure represents a gain of 1.0 point relative to 2014.

Growth rates are among the strongest in Europe, thanks to strong export performance and high consumer spending. However, the economy is still strongly reliant on EU funding. A relaxation of euro-pegged exchange rates helped restrain inflation, and may make euro adoption easier.

Unemployment rates are very low, with skilled-labor shortages becoming significant enough to discourage inward investment. Wages have risen steadily, in part due to more aggressive union bargaining.

Direct taxes, including the flat personal income tax, are low. Public debt is very moderate by EU standards, with recent fiscal surpluses helping to push it further downward. A debt-limitation law was passed after years of controversy. R&D spending is rising quickly, approaching the EU average.

Social Policies

#21
With a generally effective social system, the Czech Republic receives middling scores with regard to social policies (rank 21). Its overall score on this measure remains unchanged relative to 2014.

Educational outcomes are good overall. A higher-education reform was adopted several years ago, and tertiary attainment rates are rising. While income inequality and poverty rates are low, the Roma population is marginalized, and municipal and social housing is a problem in some areas. A social-housing bill aimed at needy populations was blocked in the parliament.

The health care system, based on universal compulsory insurance, offers high-quality services. A law limiting smoking in restaurants and other facilities has been passed. While women’s employment rates are high, child-care provision is an increasing problem, with public support for alternative models such as “children’s groups” expanding.

The pension system is in surplus, with only moderate sustainability concerns. While the inflow of asylum seekers has been modest, the EU refugee crisis has triggered a highly polarized debate on migration, aiding in the significant success of anti-immigrant parties in the 2017 parliamentary elections.

Environmental Policies

#16
With a mixed record on environmental issues, the Czech Republic’s score for environmental policies places it in the upper-middle ranks (rank 16) internationally. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.2 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.

A recent European Commission report highlighted mixed performance, citing poor air quality, rising water scarcity and inadequate protection of natural environments as continuing problems.

The country is not a driving force in shaping global environmental agendas, and has opposed ambitious CO2-reduction goals. However, it ratified the 2015 Paris climate agreement in late 2017.

Democracy

#20

Quality of Democracy

#20
Despite fair and transparent electoral procedures, the Czech Republic falls into the middle ranks (rank 20) in terms of democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

Campaign-financing regulations have been significantly strengthened, although some key issues remain unaddressed. The new prime minister, Andrej Babiš, is a media mogul forced by new conflict-of-interest laws to put holdings into a blind trust. Babiš has been accused of using his media holdings to compromise political opponents, and has been the subject of a fraud investigation.

Civil and political rights are generally respected, with lengthy legal proceedings an occasional issue. Discrimination against women and Roma remains problematic. A government plan aims to move thousands of low-income, mainly Roma families from temporary to permanent housing by 2020.

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

Governance

#27

Executive Capacity

#30
With a comparatively weak core executive, the Czech Republic scores relatively poorly overall (rank 30) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.3 points relative to 2014.

EU pressure has led to the development of a number of strategic frameworks, though several key areas are excluded. The government office has little sectoral expertise, instead playing a primarily coordinating function. Line ministries develop policies with input from the government office.

Coalition tensions undermined the Sobotka government’s efficiency and self-monitoring capabilities. An EU fraud investigation led to the forced resignation of Andrej Babiš, who later became prime minister. This will test the efficacy of new anti-corruption legislation.

RIAs are applied to most generally binding laws and administrative regulations. A broad spectrum of societal actors are consulted during the policymaking process. Use of EU funds has improved significantly over the last several years.

Executive Accountability

#15
Characterized by active societal oversight of government activities, the Czech Republic falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 15) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has lost 0.2 points compared to its 2014 level.

Parliamentarians have considerable resources and strong formal oversight powers. The independent audit office closely scrutinizes the use of EU and other funds, with one report leading to a ministerial resignation and even an arrest in 2017. The ombuds office is a critical defender of civil rights.

The deteriorating, frequently populist media landscape often leaves citizens poorly informed regarding important policy issues. Reports presented by the powerful media group owned by the new prime minister are strongly biased in favor of his party.

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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