In the Czech Republic, the constitution vests relatively strong powers withthe President, and has a traditional parliamentary system, with two chambers.
Luxembourg is set to become the first country in the world to make all its public transport free.
The Chamber of Deputies is entrusted with greater powers than the Senate,especially regarding the exercise of parliamentary scrutiny over the government.
The Chamber of Deputies also has greater legislative powers than the Senate. Forexample, in the case of proposals for regular laws, the Chamber of Deputies mayvote to overrule the Senate, if the Senate has rejected a legislative proposal orproposed any amendments.
Fares on trains, trams and buses will be lifted next summer under the plans of the re-elected coalition government led by Xavier Bettel, who was sworn in for a second term as prime minister on Wednesday.
The Constitution dictates that a system of proportional representation must beused to elect the Chamber of Deputies. All 200 deputies are elected in a singleround of voting, held in 14 regions of the country. There is an election thresholdthat determines the minimum number of votes that a political party must receivein elections in order to be allocated a mandate (mandates) in the Chamber ofDeputies. The newest version of the election law gives the following thresholds:5% for a single political party or political movement; 10% for a coalition of twopolitical parties or political movements; 15% for a coalition of three politicalparties or political movements.
The government is formed by the members of the Chambers of Deputies andthe leader becomes the Prime Minister, usually for a full term of four years. Thepresident has the power to appoint the prime minister of the new government,but typically asks the leader of a large minority party to form a new government.
Bettel, whose Democratic party will form a government with the leftwing Socialist Workers’ party and the Greens, had vowed to prioritize the environment during the recent election campaign.
There is no constitutional deadline for the President to appoint the new primeminister. The newly appointed PM, however, has 30 days to obtain a vote ofconfidence from the Parliament, and must have full cabinet nominations by then.
The government wins the vote of confidence by an absolute majority, with quorumof 67 deputies. In the event of no confidence, the president can dissolve thechamber, and call early elections.
On top of the transport pledge, the new government is also considering legalizing cannabis, and introducing two new public holidays.
Luxembourg City, the capital of the small Grand Duchy, suffers from some of the worst traffic congestion in the world.
It is home to about 110,000 people, but a further 400,000 commute into the city to work. A study suggested that drivers in the capital spent an average of 33 hours in traffic jams in 2016.
While the country as a whole has 600,000 inhabitants, nearly 200,000 people living in France, Belgium and Germany cross the border every day to work in Luxembourg.
Luxembourg has increasingly shown a progressive attitude to transport. This summer, the government brought in free transport for every child and young person under the age of 20. Secondary school students can use free shuttles between their institution and their home. Commuters need only pay 2 for up to two hours of travel, which in a country of just 999 sq miles (2,590 sq km) covers almost all journeys.
Now, from the start of 2020 all tickets will be abolished, saving on the collection of fares and the policing of ticket purchases.
The policy is yet to be fully thought through, however. A decision has yet to be taken on what to do about first- and second-class compartments on trains.
Bettel only just scraped back into government in the recent election. Opinion polls before October’s poll had indicated that the Christian Social People’s party (CSV) – led for 19 years by the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker – would end Bettel’s five years as prime minister.
The CSV, however, lost seats, while the Greens gained three seats. The result gave the coalition 31 seats in the 60-seat chamber.
The policy of the new government that has caused the most debate, however, has been that of legalizing the purchase, possession and consumption of cannabis for recreational use.