Václav Havel had two eventful terms as the first democratic president of the Czech Republic. The documentary Citizen Havel is one rhetorical artifact that captures the way a new democracy and its attendant executive power is constructed consciously in real time in a political culture where such a tradition has largely not existed. Culled from ten years of fly-on-the-wall-style footage, Citizen Havel captures the tensions between the constitutional expectations of the Czech presidency and Havel's own extraconstitutional interpretations of executive power. Ultimately, this essay argues that Citizen Havel is one influential representation of how Czech “presidentiality” during the post-communist transition was built from the inventional resources of a range of rhetorical and historical materials, such as the Czechoslovakian interwar period, the long influence of totalitarianism and the dissident culture that challenged it, the examples of “Western” presidential rhetoric, and even European monarchical traditions.

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Post-print Article

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Copyright © 2015 National Communication Association. Article first published online 30 DEC 2015.

DOI: 10.1080/00335630.2015.1128116

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Full citation:

Barney, Timothy. "Citizen Havel and the Construction of Czech Presidentiality." Quarterly Journal of Speech 101, no. 4 (December 30, 2015): 585-611. doi:10.1080/00335630.2015.1128116.