Peter Brňák, a HZDS deputy and Chairman of the Parliamentary Constitutional Law Committee, said that the ruling coalition majority in Parliament is not obliged to act on the February 6 Constitutional Court (CC) verdict. The court had ruled that the Interior Ministry had violated the fundamental rights of the plaintiff, Ivan Šimko, when it failed to distribute ballots containing the required four questions during last May's botched referendum on direct election of the President.
"I respect the [Court's] decision," Brňák said, before adding an Orwellian proviso. "There is one thing I would like to point out here, that the decision of the CC is just a statement of a decision, and this statement has its power of requirement to be fulfilled if the power is fulfilled with the statement, and everything else is, even if I shouldn't have said it this way, a political task."
The "political task" of interpreting the court's decision, Brňák continued, need not yield a result that is consistent with the spirit of the CC verdict. "Parliamentary deputies are not merely professional functionaries, but they have allegiances to other demands, and these demands are political ones."
Ruling coalition deputies have repeatedly argued that Court decisions were not legally binding on them since the constitution did not contain any mechanism for the enforcement of CC verdicts.
"It's a very problematic situation when the CC delivers a decision that has all the force of a CC verdict, but provides no way for it to be carried out by Parliament," said Brňák.
Štefan Markuš, Research Secretary of the Slovak Academy of Sciences, agreed that the powers of the CC needed to be augmented. "We have found in these last years that the constitution has lots of errors and has to be amended," he said. "Some lawyers and constitutional experts say that it has to be rewritten, that we need a new constitution."
CC Chief Justice Milan Čič has recently promised to submit proposals augmenting the legal power of CC verdicts, which Brňák said proved that CC decisions should not yet be seen as legally binding.
"Čič has promised that the next change to the Constitution will mean that all CC decisions have the force of law for all state institutions," Brňák continued. "In other words, [Čič] said that still, neither the constitution nor the rest of the legal system solves questions this way."
26. Feb 1998 at 0:00 | Tom Nicholson