1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia

The 1960 Constitution was Czechoslovakia‘s second post-World War II constitution, and, though extensively revised through later amendments, it continued in effect until the end of Czechoslovakia in 1992. It replaced the (see) Ninth-of-May Constitution. It was promulgated on July 11, 1960 as The Constitution of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

Content

The most important change in the 1960 Constitution was that it severely limited the autonomy granted to Slovakia. The executive branch of the Slovak government was abolished and its duties assigned to the Presidium of the Slovak National Council, thus combining executive and legislative functions into a single body. The National Assembly of the central government was given authority to overrule decisions of the Slovak National Council, and central government agencies took over the administration of the major organs of Slovak local government.

The 1960 Constitution reaffirmed that the KSC is the "proven vanguard of the working class" and that the governing of society and the state should continue to be in accordance with the principle of democratic centralism. It further declared that "socialism has triumphed in our country!" and that "we are proceeding toward the construction of an advanced socialist society and gathering strength for the transition to communism." It also acknowledged "our great ally, the fraternal Union of Soviet Socialist Republics." Accordingly, the name of the nation was changed from the Czechoslovak Republic (or Czechoslovak People's Democratic Republic which was also used between 1948 – 1960) to the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. The constitution was amended in 1968, 1971, 1975 (see Constitutional Law of Federation), 1978, 1989 (leading role of the KSC abolished) and several times during 1990-1992 (e. g. 1990 change of the name of Czechoslovakia, 1991 incorporation of the human rights charter),

Structure

In the 1980s, the 1960 Constitution consists of a preamble and 112 articles divided into 9 groupings called chapters. Chapter 1, titled "The Social Order," describes Czechoslovakia as "a unitary State of two fraternal nations possessing equal rights--the Czechs and the Slovaks." Article 2 states that "all power in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic shall belong to the working people." State power will be exercised "through representative bodies which are elected by [the working people], controlled by them, and accountable to them." Principles of the socialist economic system, "in which the means of production are socially owned and the entire national economy directed by plan," are also laid out. Socialist ownership takes two forms: state ownership of natural resources, the means of industrial production, public transportation and communications, banks and insurance firms, and health, educational, and scientific facilities; and cooperative ownership, which is the property of people's cooperatives. Small private enterprises "based on the labor of the owner himself and excluding exploitation of another's labor" are permitted. Personal ownership of consumer goods, homes, and savings derived from labor is guaranteed, as is inheritance of such property.

Chapter 2 describes the rights and duties of citizens. Equal rights regardless of nationality, race, or sex are guaranteed. Education is free and compulsory to the age of sixteen; citizens of Hungarian, Ukrainian, and Polish origin are ensured "every opportunity and all means for education in their mother tongue." Lifetime medical care and material security in old age and in case of disability are guaranteed. Freedom of speech and of the press "consistent with the interests of the working people" are guaranteed. Also guaranteed is the "right to profess any religious faith or to be without religious conviction, and to practice religious beliefs insofar as this does not contravene the law." Citizens are duty bound to serve in the armed forces, and conscientious objection based on religious conviction is specifically prohibited.

See Government structure of Communist Czechoslovakia and Constitutional Law of Federation for further details.


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