Date of Award

Spring 5-26-2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science


Political Science & International Relations


Dr. Timothy Wyman McCarty


Despite former dissident and Czech president Václav Havel’s widespread influence, his presidency has not been seriously considered as a framework for how one should head a government. A reasoned and thorough examination of Havel’s presidency is conspicuously absent in the existing literature. Havel is known for and evaluated most in terms of his sweeping moral principles and philosophical treatises, but I wish to know whether his 13-year presidency passes the test of ideal world leadership that he provides so clearly in his written works and speeches. Specifically, I develop a set of ideal traits for world leadership and then examine how this philosophical and political ideal translates to his political acts as president. I have selected one criminal justice, one defense, and one economic policy that Havel actively advocated for and instituted. These policies were either controversial or prima facie appear to contradict his political philosophy. Since Havel was both a playwright and philosopher, I then examine these policies through the lens of his prior-written plays and philosophical treatises – as well as my seven traits for ideal world leadership, extrapolated from his writings – to determine whether his political theory works in practice, whether his actions can be justified in the terms of his theory, and whether it constitutes a viable method of governing. The end result of my thesis will have either confirmed scholarly suspicions of Havel’s presidential mediocrity, or proved the opposite and thereby serve as an externally applicable framework for morally and politically sound action. The latter reflects my determination that Havel was indeed a good president and an effective world leader.