The president of Slovakia is legally obliged to deal with a parliamentary proposal to appoint a new general prosecutor and, if the candidate was legally elected in accordance with law, either appoint the candidate “within an appropriate timeframe” or inform parliament that he/she refuses to do so and give “relevant reasons”, according to a verdict issued by the Constitutional Court announced on Wednesday, October 24. President Ivan Gašparovič has consistently refused to appoint Jozef Čentéš as general prosecutor since he was elected by MPs on June 17, 2011.
"The president can decide not to appoint the candidate only if the candidate does not meet the legal requirements for the office or if there are grave reasons why that particular candidate is unable to exercise the role of prosecutor-general," Constitutional Court spokesperson Anna Pančurová told the TASR newswire, adding that these reasons must “not be arbitrary” but establish clearly that the candidate would either reduce the stature of the office, act in violation of the purpose of the office or interrupt the functioning of constitutional bodies.
"I consider today's verdict a confirmation of what we asked for, i.e. the obligation of the president to make a decision within an appropriate timeframe and back the potential negative stance with reasons that are not an expression of wanton will," said opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) MP Radoslav Procházka. He was one of 15 lawmakers who jointly filed the complaint with the Constitutional Court over President Ivan Gašparovič's failure to appoint Čentéš as the new general prosecutor.
Čentéš told TASR: "The verdict confirms my opinion in the part that deals with the [required president's] decision on parliament's proposal to appoint me as general prosecutor without delay. I meet all the legal requirements stemming from the Slovak rule of law. I know of no grave reason that would stand in the way of my appointment," he said. Čentéš again reiterated that he was elected to the post by lawmakers.
It is unclear whether or how the ruling will resolve the present impasse, since it sets no specific time limit by which the president must act, or who will judge whether any reasons the president might ultimately choose to give for refusing to appoint Čentéš are “relevant” or “not arbitrary”. The ruling does, however, appear to expand the powers of the president. Previously, the power to select a general prosecutor was regarded as belonging solely to parliament, with the president being required merely to approve the choice but having no right of veto.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
25. Oct 2012 at 10:00