The Influence of the Senate on the Legislative Process
in its First Period of Office (1996-1998)

The constitution basically distinguishes between ordinary legislative procedure , special legislative procedure and the procedure used to express approval of international treaties . These can all be subsumed under the term "legislative process" as used in the title.

The ordinary legislative procedure is the procedure used for passing ordinary laws and the bills for such laws are submitted to the Chamber of Deputies. Another of the bodies vested with legislative initiative is the Senate. When a bill approved by the Chamber of Deputies is referred to the Senate, it has a thirty-day period in which to decide on this bill. The Senate may approve it, reject it, return it to the Chamber of Deputies with proposed amendments or decide not to deal with it at all.

In the former and latter cases, the act which has been passed may be presented to the President of the Republic for his signature. In the other cases the bill is returned to the Chamber of Deputies for another vote. If the Senate does not make any decision within this thirty-day period, the bill is then deemed to have been passed.

The Chamber of Deputies must outvote the Senate´s negative decision by a simple majority of all deputies, otherwise the bill is deemed not to have been passed. If a bill is returned with proposed amendments, the Chamber of Deputies may agree to the bill in the wording approved by the Senate; otherwise it votes for the bill in its original wording, i.e. in the version referred to the Senate. If a simple majority of the votes of all deputies is not achieved at this vote, the bill is not passed.

The procedure for passing constitutional laws and laws under Article 40 of the Constitution (the Electoral Law, the Senate Rules of Procedure and the "Liaison Law") in particular may be classified under special legislative procedure or rather procedures. In these cases, the express approval of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate is required for them to be passed. Hence the Senate may return them with proposed amendments but it cannot be "outvoted". The Chamber of Deputies is either to concur with the proposed amendments or the bill is not passed.

Special legislative procedures also include the passage of legal measures by the Senate at times when the Chamber of Deputies is dissolved and the legislative procedure detailed under the Constitutional Act on the Security of the Czech Republic. None of these latter procedures has yet been invoked.

A full account of types of law can be concluded by recalling the legislative initiative of the Senate . As in the case of the government, a deputy or a group of deputies, the Senate also enjoys the right to submit bills, even of a constitutional nature. Submission to the Chamber of Deputies is preceded by a procedure whereby the draft Senate Bill is debated in Senate committees and ultimately at a Senate meeting. Only when it is approved by the Senate can a Senate Bill be submitted to the Chamber of Deputies.

The final item in this brief introduction is the procedure for ratifying international treaties . For the President to be able to ratify certain international treaties (known as "Presidential") he needs the consent of Parliament. This is based on the fact that approval must be given by both chambers, or the international treaty cannot be ratified. The submission of proposed amendments does not come into consideration.

No. Number of Senate documents
Resolutions not passed 1 see note
Not dealt with 4 see note
Approved 80 see note
Constitutional laws - approved 4 see note
Proposed amendments – Senate version 9 1997/21; 1997/62; 1997/89; 1997/103; 1998/7; 1998/13; 1998/15; 1998/18; 1998/35
Proposed amendments – CD version 4 1997/71; 1997/75; 1997/88; 1998/17
Proposed amendments – act not passed 4 1997/2; 1997/15; 1998/8; 1998/75
Rejected – CD version 1 1998/33
Rejected – act not passed 4 1998/39; 1998/53; 1998/76; 1998/80
Total bills from CD debated 111  

Note: This text only refers to bills rejected by the Senate or passed with proposed amendments. Other bills remained in the original wording given by the Chamber of Deputies and can be found with a full-text search here.