Jail terms could cost lawmakers seats and salaries in future
Recent scandals involving members of the Czech lower house have prompted a response from their colleagues. Lawmakers are now debating legislation that would strip deputies of their salary and other benefits if they are sentenced to jail. The lower house also backed an amendment to the Constitution which would strip convicted MPs of the mandate.
Under pressure from his colleagues, Mr. Pekárek eventually left the party, though he refused to give up his seat, meaning he will still receive a salary of some 60,000 crowns every month. His case, and those of two other MPs – Vít Bárta and Jaroslav Škárka – who were in the end acquitted of corruption, prompted MPs to come up with new legislation dubbed Lex Pekárek. Civic Democrat Miroslava Němcová is the speaker of the lower house.
“We asked Mr Pekárek to give up his mandate but to no avail. I thought that one of the reasons he decided to retain his mandate was that his income during this parliament would help him pay the fine he got from the court. It seems absolutely immoral to me that taxpayers’ money should be used for something like this.”
But lower house speaker Miroslava Němcová came up with another piece of legislation that goes even further. She proposed an amendment to the Czech Constitution that would strip lawmakers convicted and sentenced to prison of their mandate.
This legislation has also been added to the house’s agenda, although some lawmakers and constitutional experts say that before it is approved, some issued should be clarified; for example, it should specify the types of crime to which it would apply. But Ms Němcová says the legislative process has only begun, and there will be time for a through debate over the bill.
If approved by both chambers of Parliament, the legislation stripping convicted MPs of salaries and other benefits could come into force later this year. Meanwhile, the constitutional amendment will most likely not be adopted until the next parliament.