OPENING Slovakia’s judiciary to better public review and the requirement to publish contracts signed by state institutions on the internet are the two most important legislative measures pushed through by the outgoing government of Iveta Radičová that improve transparency and fight corruption, according to an analysis prepared by Transparency International Slovakia (TIS).
TIS asked 13 experts from three non-governmental organisations – TIS, the Slovak Governance Institute (SGI) and the Institute for Economic and Social Reforms (INEKO) – and universities and municipalities, to evaluate 20 legislative proposals focused on fighting corruption that had been prepared by the current government. In addition, the committee of experts evaluated the parties in parliament and individual MPs in terms of their support for measures to fight corruption and make government more transparent, according to a press release issued by TIS on February 13.
“The best law to fight against corruption passed by the Iveta Radičová government was the Act on Judges and Judicial Assistants which established the publication of courts’ rulings on the internet, public selection procedures to choose future judges, and more detailed property disclosures by judges,” states the TIS report.
The second best legislative initiative according to the experts was the requirement that all contracts signed by state bodies be published on the internet. Another amendment to the Act on Judges and Judicial Assistants that introduced evaluation of judges in a five-year cycle and online publication of information about judges’ work was rated third on the TIS list. All three pieces of legislation were prepared by the Justice Ministry led by Lucia Žitňanská of the Slovak Christian and Democratic Union (SDKÚ), TIS wrote.
Slovakia has not received good scores in various international rankings assessing levels of corruption in the country. Slovakia ranked 66th out of the 183 countries in the Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International in December 2011, which was based on perceived corruption in the country in 2010, while it finished 26th among the countries of the EU and western Europe, with a score of 4 points. The report noted that weak police and prosecution institutions and an uneven judicial system were responsible for much of the low score.
Gabriel Šípoš of TIS told The Slovak Spectator that he expects Slovakia’s score to improve in the 2012 Corruption Perception Index ranking as that survey will reflect legislative changes pushed through by the government in 2011, stating that “many of these have a very good potential to decrease corruption”.
The best and the worst
TIS also compiled an evaluation of members of parliament according to their level of support for anti-corruption measures discussed in parliament. It wrote that the top three supporters of anti-corruption measures were Miroslav Beblavý from SDKÚ, Kamil Krnáč from Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), and Jana Žitňanská from the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH). TIS stated that these MPs had demonstrated personal legislative initiative as they had prepared draft laws that were later passed by parliament covering issues such as the use of electronic auctions in public procurement, the obligation to publish student theses so as to combat plagiarism, and changes to the rules for grants financed with EU structural funds.
TIS wrote that the worst legislators during this past parliamentary term were two opposition MPs: Peter Žiga from Smer and Igor Štefanov from the Slovak National Party (SNS). Despite their ranking at the bottom of the list, TIS wrote that Žiga had gained some positive points for supporting the scrapping of MPs’ immunity for misdemeanours while Štefanov earned some good points for supporting the amendment to the law on prosecution proposed by Smer.
In evaluating the work of the six political parties with seats in parliament, the Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) was ranked highest in fighting corruption, followed by the SDKÚ and Most-Híd.
“The first place for KDH can be explained by its dutiful attendance at votes and the high number of active MPs compared to their total number of MPs (14),” stated TIS, as quoted by TASR.
Smer and SNS, the two opposition parties in parliament, were ranked worst as they had supported very few of the legislative proposals positively evaluated by the experts that were submitted by the ruling parties.
“The anti-corruption agenda was torpedoed the most by the Smer caucus [in parliament],” TIS stated in its press release, while adding that the only difference between Smer and SNS was in the number of absent MPs during votes on these legislative measures.