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Slovak Constitution needs some work

Dr. Milan Čič, the Chief Justice of the Slovak Constitutional Court, contributed this column in parts to the Národná Obroda daily. In his writings, Dr. Čič provided the text of several articles as they currently appear in the Constitution, proposed changes to the current text, and then concluded with a discussion of the state of the Constitution in general.
One of the most divisive topics these days is the Constitution of the Slovak Republic that is currently in force, and the question of whether we should design an entirely new one. The current Constitution, during the five years it has been used, has fulfilled its purpose. That is why I don't think that it is necessary to change or replace it with a new version. Calls to change the Constitution have often arisen when there has been insufficient political will to resolve constitutional problems; personal motivations and conflicts have also interfered with this process.


Examining the basic law. Milan Čič, Constitutional Court Chairman, thinks the Constitution needs amending, not rewriting.
ČTK

Dr. Milan Čič, the Chief Justice of the Slovak Constitutional Court, contributed this column in parts to the Národná Obroda daily. In his writings, Dr. Čič provided the text of several articles as they currently appear in the Constitution, proposed changes to the current text, and then concluded with a discussion of the state of the Constitution in general.


From The Constitution of the Slovak Republic (CSR), Part 1, Chapter 1: "General Provisions:"

Article 2

(1) The power of the state is vested in the citizens, who shall exercise it directly or through their elected representatives.
(2) State bodies may act solely in conformity with the Constitution. Their actions shall be subject to its limits, within its scope and governed by procedures determined by law.
(3) Anyone may act in a way that is not forbidden by law, and no one may be forced to act in a way not prescribed by law.

Čič's proposal for changes and amendments to Article 2:

(1) Citizens exercise state power through legislative, executive and judicial bodies of authority.
(2) The legislative, executive and judicial branches of authority are equivalent in power.
(3) Constitutional law will determine the way in which citizens may use direct power.


From the CSR, Chapter 7, "Right to Judicial and other Legal Protection:"

Article 50

(5) When finally convicted or acquitted of an offence, no person may be prosecuted for that same offence again.

Čič's proposal for changes and amendments to Article 50:

(5) Nobody may be charged with a crime who has been legally convicted or acquitted or amnestied of that crime.
(7) [Paragraph 5]Émay be reversed only in cases where it can be shown to benefit Slovak citizens.


From the CSR, Part 5, "Legislative Power;" Chapter 1, "Parliament;"

Article 84

(3) For the purpose of adopting or amending the Constitution, adopting Constitutional statutes, electing and recalling the President, or declaring war on another state, the consent of a three-fifths majority of all members shall be required.

Čic's proposal for changes and amendments to Article 84:

(3) For the purpose of adopting or amending the Constitution, adopting Constitutional statutes and passing laws that have been returned to Parliament by the President under the terms of article102, paragraph "n" [the President may return constitutional or other bills to [Parliament] with his comments for reconsideration within fifteen days after their passage], electing and recalling the President or declaring war on another state, the consent of a three-fifths majority of all members shall be required.


Čič's proposed addition to Article 89:

(4) If the government of the Slovak Republic does not elect a prime minister of the Slovak Republic within 60 days of the day of its first assembly, the President will dissolve the parliament of the Slovak Republic and announce new elections, to be held within 30 days.


From the CSR, Part 5, Chapter 2, "Referendum;"

Article 93

(3) No issues of fundamental rights, freedoms, taxes, duties or national budgetary matters may be decided by a public referendum.

Čič's proposal for changes and amendments to Article 93:

(3) No issues involving Constitutional change, fundamental rights, freedoms, taxes, duties or national budgetary matters may be decided by a public referendum.


Čič's proposed addition to Part 6, "Executive Power;" Chapter 1, "The President of the Slovak Republic;"


Article 101

(4) If a new President is not elected, the current President will remain in office until a new president is elected, even after his term has expired.


Commentary:

One of the most divisive topics these days is the Constitution of the Slovak Republic that is currently in force, and the question of whether we should design an entirely new one. The current Constitution, during the five years it has been used, has fulfilled its purpose. That is why I don't think that it is necessary to change or replace it with a new version. Calls to change the Constitution have often arisen when there has been insufficient political will to resolve constitutional problems; personal motivations and conflicts have also interfered with this process. The question before us now is how the crisis affecting the government, and indeed our entire society, is going to be solved. Slovakia has been unable to elect a President according to the terms of the current Constitution, but instead of party and state authorities trying to solve this question on the basis of a valid Constitution, they criticize the Constitution and are trying to find ways to change it. I would like to express my personal attitudes on this.


Guest Column

1. The Constitution of the Slovak Republic is based on democratic, humanist, nation-state, parliamentary, international and pluralistic principles. I do not see any serious reason to change these principles, or to change our system of government according to a presidential or a clerical model.
2. The Constitution of the Slovak Republic also currently provides sufficient judicial powers and checks and balances (with the backing of the Constitutional Court) to solve all questions of a constitutional or judicial nature, especially the basic relationship between the citizen and the state.
3. This view of the current Constitution does not preclude scientific analyses of its current legal status, nor does it preclude its evaluation and the submission of proposals to competent legal bodies. Political party position papers should be the impulse for the theoretical development of the concepts and principles behind timely changes. In my opinion, specific amendments to the Constitution are needed.
The Constitution, as the fountainhead of the judicial system, contains bases on which the constitutional status of each citizen is built. This status is guaranteed by fundamental human rights and freedoms, which guide the lives of both the citizen and society in all aspects, from the viewpoint of moral values, as well as concerning organizational, state administration and self-governing aspects.
The Constitution in a fundamental way determines the human value of its citizens, their relations, the status and rights of national, ethnic, religious and other minorities; it sets the legal and institutional foundations and mechanisms for the powers of the people and the carrying out and protection of civic rights and freedoms.
I do not see any reason to revise the currently valid Constitution wholesale, because in my opinion, revision would only mean its analysis and evaluation under new criteria and by other than existing and time-tested democratic principles.


Milan Čič is the Chairman of the Slovak Republic's Constitutional Court.

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