The Straka Academy

23. 5. 2007 15:50

Straka's Academy - the seat of the Czech Republic Government and of the Office of the Czech Republic Government

The government held its session ... The government proposed ... The government decided...

Have you read such sentences in the newspapers, or hear them on TV or radio, and still could not imagine what is behind them? Do you learn every day from the media what the government has done but do not know exactly what is the work done by the government? What is the task of the Prime Minister and the Office of the Czech Republic Government? Does the name Straka's Academy ring a bell but you do not know exactly what it means? Or, have you ever crossed Mánes' Bridge over the river Vltava in Prague, seeing a stately building on your right side but did not know why there is the national flag and who resides there? If you have ever asked yourself such questions, we invite you to a small informative tour.

The Government of the Czech Republic

The Government of the Czech Republic is the supreme executive body and is comprised of the prime minister, his deputies and the ministers. A new government is constituted after every general parliamentary elections, when the current government resigns and president of the republic appoints a new prime minister based on results of the elections. At the suggestion of such new prime minister, the president then appoints the other ministers. Within thirty days after its appointment, the new government must apply to the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic for vote of confidence. The government wins confidence if the majority of deputies present at the Chamber of Deputies support it; if not, it has to resign and the president will charge another person with the establishment of the government. If such new government fails to gain confidence as well, a third attempt to appoint the person charged with establishing the government is made, this time upon the motion of the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies. Should such third attempt also fail, the president will dissolve the Chamber of Deputies and announce early elections.

The government usually holds its regular meetings once a week. The prime minister organizes the government's activities, chairs over its meetings, acts in its name and carries on other activities entrusted by the Constitution or other laws. The prime minister convenes government meetings by sending to all members of the government the agenda of the relevant meeting, specifying the date and place of the meeting. If absent, the prime minister is represented by one of his deputies or by an authorized minister. The government decides on essential issues of national importance, unless such decisions fall within the competencies of ministries or other state administration bodies. The government adopts resolutions on the basis of written materials submitted by its members, or exceptionally on the basis of verbal information if there is a danger of delay. Government resolutions must be approved by the majority of members of the government and are binding for all its members, the ministries and other state administration bodies.

The preparation of materials for government meetings and the submission of such materials to the government are regulated by very detailed rules of procedure. Any material that is to be submitted to the government must be sent for comments to all ministers, the prime minister's, deputies, the governor of the Czech National Bank and the director of the Office of the Czech Republic Government, and (if applicable) to directors of any institutions affected by the relevant material. The government meetings are not open to the public and written minutes are made of them. The accuracy of these minutes is checked by members of the government whom the relevant agenda item concerns, and the minutes are published on the official government website.

Office of the Czech Republic Government

The Office of the Czech Republic Government is a central state administration body, which fulfils tasks related to the professional, organizational and technical arrangements concerning the activities of the Czech Republic Government and its bodies. The Office of the Czech Republic Government is directly responsible for providing conditions for work of specialized units of the Prime Minister and members of the government included in his organizational structure. The government bodies whose operations are organized by the Office of the Czech Republic Government include the Legislative Council of the Government, the State Security Council and the Council of the Czech Republic Government for Human Rights. The Office of the Czech Republic Government also manages several representative properties owned by the state – e.g. the Kramář Villa, Hrzánský Palace, State Castle Koloděje or the villa of the former President Beneš in Sezimovo Ústí. These properties are mostly used for government meetings, working sessions or accommodation of top-level foreign delegations.

No less interesting is also the building which hosts the seat of the Czech Republic Government and of the Office of the Czech Republic Government. The stately neo-baroque building is mostly known to the public under the name “Straka's Academy”. After its completion in 1896, it served as a students' hostel for sons of poorer Czech aristocratic families, as designated by the emperor's privy counsel count Jan Petr Straka of Nedabylice and Libčany, who bequeathed all his assets for such purpose in his testament. The building was designed by the architect Václav Roštlapil and decorated by sculptors Josef Mauder and Celda Klouček. Straka's Academy also has a large garden, built under the supervision of František Thomayer.

The short history of the hostel ended by the declaration of the Czechoslovak Republic and subsequent cancellation of aristocratic titles. However, the building continued to serve students, because it became in 1921 the seat of the Czechoslovak Students' Union and later on also of the students' club “Academic House”. Moreover, the building also became the seat of some ministries and state authorities. In 1939, the building began to be used by the government of the Protectorate and Straka's Academy underwent large-scale renovation, designated to adjust the original building to the new state purposes. After Reinhard Heydrich's arrival in Prague in 1942, the building became subject to a forced sale and hosted a special land court. After World War Two, the building was dedicated for the new Czechoslovak Government and hosted until 1992 the presidiums of twenty post-war governments. Since 1 January 1993, Straka's Academy has been the seat of the Czech Republic Government.

If the previous lines have ignited at least a spark of curiosity in your mind, you have an opportunity to learn more about the activities of the government and the building where it has its seat. The Office of the Czech Republic Government offers to the public and school classes a possibility to make guided tours in the premises of Straka's Academy. You will see the state premises, the conference hall of the government and the working environment of the prime minister and his team.

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nábř. Edvarda Beneše 4,
Praha 1

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