Czechia

   

Policy Performance

#17

Economic Policies

#19
With a strong but slowing economy, Czechia falls into the middle ranks (rank 19) in terms of economic policies. Its score on this measure represents a gain of 1.0 point relative to 2014.

Previously high growth rates have moderated, but remain strong. Consumer spending has continued to increase, driven by strong wage increases across the economy, including a substantial hike in the minimum wage and large public-sector pay increases.

Unemployment rates were the lowest in the EU in 2018. Labor shortages, especially in skilled categories, are increasing problem, helping to drive the rising wage levels. Direct taxes, including the flat personal income tax, are low. A major income-tax reform passed in 2018 has been delayed until 2021 due to revenue-reduction fears.

Public debt is very moderate by EU standards, with recent fiscal surpluses helping to push it further downward. R&D spending is rising, approaching the EU average. The government has taken plans to join the euro zone off the agenda.

Social Policies

#21
With a generally effective social system, Czechia 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, though Roma children are often shunted to lower-quality schools. Tertiary attainment rates are rising, but remain low. While income inequality and poverty rates are low, the Roma population is marginalized overall, and municipal and social housing is a problem in some areas. A lack of affordable housing is becoming a problem.

The health care system, based on universal compulsory insurance, offers high-quality services, though spending has declined as a share of GDP. Women’s employment rates are below the OECD average, especially for women with small children. Child-care provision is a problem, exacerbated by the growing number of single mothers.

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, with very few citizens supporting rules that would allow refugees to settle permanently in the country.

Environmental Policies

#19
With a mixed record on environmental issues, Czechia’s score for environmental policies places it in the middle ranks (rank 19) 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, though an EU evaluation has pointed to mixed performance with regard to evaluation.

The new government has focused on issues including water and waste management, agricultural land protection, air quality, support for low-emission vehicles, and biodiversity. Plans are underway to expand a nuclear power plant.

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

#23

Quality of Democracy

#23
With criticism over the current prime minister’s past and present conduct dividing society, Czechia falls into the middle ranks (rank 23) in terms of democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

Media mogul and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has been accused of corruption, and has been sued for conflict of interest due to maintaining effective control over his dominant share of the media landscape. A vibrant new online and independent investigative-journalism sector has been sparked largely by journalists leaving Babiš-owned publications.

Campaign-financing regulations have been significantly strengthened, with the first campaign scrutinized producing only minor infractions. Civil and political rights are generally respected, with large-scale protests having emerged under the Babiš government. Discrimination against women and Roma remains problematic.

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

Governance

#25

Executive Capacity

#28
With a comparatively weak core executive, Czechia falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 28) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.4 points relative to 2014.

A long-term strategic framework is in place, but has been given little attention by the current government. The government office has little sectoral expertise, instead playing a primarily coordinating function. Line ministries develop policies with input from the government office.

Recent governments have been based on coalition agreements which cover policies and coordination rules. Government communication has become more coherent, through largely focused on the prime minster. Babiš has made use of his media properties to “name and shame” errant ministers, thus securing their compliance.

RIAs are applied to most generally binding laws and administrative regulations. Ex post evaluations are a regular part of the process, but are not systematic. Consultation with societal actors has diminished under the current government. Babiš’ own rise to power and wealth is seen as a product of lax regulatory environments and the value of political connections.

Executive Accountability

#15
With highly polarized media and political environments, Czechia falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 15) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has gained 0.4 points relative to its 2014 level.

The current government is led by a media owner that dominates the print media, but a surge in online and independent media skeptical of the government has created considerable high-quality content, and rejuvenated public support for media organizations. However, this political polarization has deepened societal divisions.

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, and the data-protection office has been in operation since 2000.

Decision-making in the prime minister’s party is highly centralized, but other parties consult members more routinely. 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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