Federal Assembly (Czechoslovakia)

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Federal Assembly of the
Czech and Slovak Federative Republic

Federální shromáždění ČSFR (Czech)
Federálne zhromaždenie ČSFR (Slovak)
Legislative body in Czechoslovakia
HousesChamber of Nations
Chamber of People
Preceded byNational Assembly
Succeeded by
Seats350 members (1969–1990)
  • 150 Chamber of Nations
  • 200 Chamber of People

300 members (1990–1992)

  • 150 Chamber of Nations
  • 150 Chamber of People
Direct non-competitive elections (1969–1990)
Direct competitive proportional representation (1990–1992)
Last election
5–6 June 1992
Meeting place
Federální shromáždění, 2010.jpg
Federal Assembly, Prague

The Federal Assembly (Czech: Federální shromáždění, Slovak: Federálne zhromaždenie) was the federal parliament of Czechoslovakia from January 1, 1969 to the dissolution of Czechoslovakia on December 31, 1992. It was Czechoslovakia's highest legislative institution.

Chapter 3 of the 1960 Constitution of Czechoslovakia recognized it as "the supreme organ of state power and the sole statewide legislative body."

Constitution and practice[edit]

The Federal Assembly was divided into two equal chambers, the Chamber of People (Sněmovna lidu; other translation House of People) and the Chamber of Nations (Sněmovna národů; other translation House of Nations). The Chamber of the People reflected a system of proportional representation: in 1992 it included 99 deputies from the Czech Socialist Republic and 51 deputies from the Slovak Socialist Republic. The Chamber of Nations had 150 members, 75 from each republic. Deputies were selected through popular elections and served five year terms of office; all members of both houses served concurrently. However, before the Velvet Revolution — and thus, in all but the last two assemblies — there was only one party to vote for, National Front, and it was impossible to give a preferential vote.

The Post-Velvet Revolution electoral law, used to elect the last two assemblies, provided that both houses of the Federal Assembly would be elected by party-list proportional representation in multi-member electoral districts which correspond to the regions of each Republic. Seats for each Republic were allocated among its electoral districts on the basis of the votes actually cast in each. Voters must choose only one political party to vote for, but they may use up to four preferential votes for particular candidates of that party, which affect the final order of the candidates on the party list. To obtain seats, a party was required to obtain at least 5% of the Republic-wide votes in either of the Republics. The allocation of seats was made in two stages – first, seats were allocated within each electoral district using the Hagenbach-Bischoff quota. The remainders were then used to allocate any seats left unfilled on a republic-wide basis, again using the Hagenbach-Bischoff quota.[1]

After an election each chamber met to select its own Praesidium consisting of three to six members. Together, the chambers elected the forty-member Presidium of the Federal Assembly, which served as the legislative authority when the assembly was not in session. A joint session of the Federal Assembly selected its chairman and vice chairman.

The Federal Assembly met in regular session at least twice a year, in the spring and fall. Legislation presented to the assembly at these sessions had to be approved by both chambers and in some cases required a majority vote by both the Czech and the Slovak deputies in the Chamber of Nations.[2]

Constitutionally, the Federal Assembly was vested with great lawmaking powers, and had exclusive jurisdiction in all matters of foreign policy, fundamental matters of domestic policy, the economic plan, and supervision of the executive branch of government.

Before 1989, however, as in other Communist states, its function was largely confined to rubber-stamping measures placed before it by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). Czechoslovak Laws passed under Communism were drafted in advance by the Presidium of the KSČ and presented to the Federal Assembly, which almost always approved them unanimously. The democratic centralist principle extended to elections as well. Voters were presented with a single list from the National Front (Národní fronta), an all-encompassing patriotic organization dominated by the Communists. Great pressure was brought to bear on citizens to turn out at the polls, and those who dared to cross out the name of the single Front-approved candidate on the ballot risked severe reprisals. Under these circumstances, elections were almost always a formality, with the Front list winning well over 99 percent of the vote. Only after the Velvet Revolution did the Assembly assume actual power.


The Assembly building was originally a stock exchange, designed by Jaroslav Rössler and completed in 1938. The space proved insufficient, and after a design competition Karel Prager was appointed to add an extension. He added a modern glass, metal and stone structure around and over the top of the original building.[3] The project was both expensive and controversial.[4]

Between 1995 and 2008, The Federal Assembly Building housed the headquarters of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. As of 2015, it houses the Federal Assembly National Museum.

Prager's design has since been copied elsewhere, for example in what is now the Bank of Georgia headquarters in Tbilisi.[5]

Name changes[edit]

Name Native name Year
Federal Assembly of
the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
(Czech: Federální shromáždění Československé socialistické republiky)
(Slovak: Federálne zhromaždenie Československej socialistickej republiky)
Federal Assembly of
the Czechoslovak Federative Republic
(Czech: Federální shromáždění Československé federativní republiky)
(Slovak: Federálne zhromaždenie Česko-slovenskej federatívnej republiky)
Federal Assembly of
the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic
(Czech: Federální shromáždění České a Slovenské Federativní Republiky)
(Slovak: Federálne zhromaždenie Českej a Slovenskej Federatívnej Republiky)

Presidents of the Federal Assembly[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Law on Elections to the Czechoslovak Federal Assembly". 1990.
  2. ^ Karel Hvížďala: POLITIKA: Česko a volby prezidentů, Neviditelný pes, 19. 12. 2007
  3. ^ Raymond Johnston (22 October 2015). "The Federal Assembly". #ThrowbackThursday. Prague Post. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  4. ^ Kristina Alda (1 September 2009). "Changing the structure". Prague Daily Monitor. Retrieved 30 November 2015.
  5. ^ "Pragerův federál provokuje dodnes (Prague Federal Building still controversial)" (in Czech). Portal of Prague. 26 February 2011. Retrieved 24 March 2014. Includes gallery of images.

External links[edit]