THE CONSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK
TWO CONSTITUTIONS were enacted by the communist regime of Czechoslovakia within the period covered in the present volume: the Ninth-of-May Constitution of 1948 and the new Soviet-type Constitution of 1960. The constitutions of communist-dominated countries are, of course, anything but binding fundamental laws in the Western sense. Nevertheless, the difference between the two documents symbolizes well the extent to which Czechoslovakia's political institutions have been sovietized in the course of the twelve years that separate the Ninth-of-May Constitution from its 1960 successor.
Whenever constitutions of dictatorial systems are considered, especially those of totalitarian communism, the student invariably is forced to ask why the rulers care to have any written constitution at all. Their power is absolute. All decisions of any importance are made within the supreme Party conclave and its underlings are in control of everything in every part of the country and in every segment of life. Why, then, do they bother with the formality of a fundamental law? Why do they insist on limiting their own powers, even though only nominally, by elaborate systems of constitutional prescriptions and restrictions that are protected legally--as in non-communist constitutions--against easy amendment?
The reasons underlying the Czechoslovak communist philosophy of constitutionalism are much the same as in the Soviet Union and in other people's democracies. It is one of the basic maxims of Marxist-Leninist teaching on the relations between the Party and the State that the Party makes policy, that it guides and controls but does not directly carry out its decisions.1 For that purpose the Party maintains a machinery of government separate from the Party apparatus____________________