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UPDATED: KDH ready to debate Smer’s bill on judiciary

After hesitation and several disputes, the opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) say they are ready to discuss changes to the constitution that have been brought forward by the ruling Smer party concerning the judiciary – in exchange for its proposal concerning the protection of marriage.

After hesitation and several disputes, the opposition Christian Democratic Movement (KDH) say they are ready to discuss changes to the constitution that have been brought forward by the ruling Smer party concerning the judiciary – in exchange for its proposal concerning the protection of marriage.

Smer has come up with a draft introducing new measures involving the judiciary, such as security clearances for judges, while KDH wants the definition of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman to be enacted in the constitution, rather than only in the Family Act as is currently the case.

“KDH rejects any bartering, but it’s able to make agreements for the good of Slovakia,” KDH chairman Ján Figeľ told the TASR newswire. “We’re convinced that both issues are indeed for the good of Slovakia - the support of marriage and family as well as more transparency, credibility and efficiency in the judiciary.”

The security clearances shall check on the way in which judges meet various types of people, and what are their incomes, according to Prim Minister Robert Fico.

KDH parliamentary caucus Chairman Pavol Hrušovský said on February 26 that the party’s reservations regarding the Smer-proposed bill include the security clearances for judges. On the other hand, KDH is happy with the idea of splitting the posts of Supreme Court Chairman and Judicial Council Chairman between two officials.

Meanwhile, fellow opposition Most-Híd party said on the same day that it continues to reject the idea altogether. Smer is adamant that the security clearances be adopted while saying that it’s ready to make concessions on other provisions of the bill. Most-Híd is questioning Smer’s fair-mindedness in its efforts to introduce changes to the judiciary.

“There are serious doubts as to whether Smer is truly committed to turn things around in the judiciary for the better or if this is only a campaign gimmick,” reads the party’s statement, as quoted by TASR. “The government has all the means to improve the state of affairs in the judiciary gradually and thoroughly... we can’t back an idea of all judges being subjected to security clearances by the National Security Authority (NBÚ) that would then be assessed by the Judicial Council. We’re ready to be involved in discussions on changes needed in the judiciary but not under time pressure.”

Another opposition party, Freedom and Solidarity (SaS) sees in KDH’s willingness for negotiations a further step towards a possible future cooperation pact between the parties. “Conditioning inclusion of marriage as a bond between a man and a woman in the constitution with fundamental changes in the judiciary is, according to us, a dangerous bartering in matters that should rather be the subject to serious debate,” SaS chairman Richard Sulík said.

Smer is aiming to seek opposition support with a view that a constitutional majority of 90 MPs need to vote in favour for a constitutional amendment to be passed. Smer has an absolute, but not a constitutional, majority of 83 MPs.

Seven Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OĽaNO) MPs will support constitutional changes concerning definition of marriage. They offered to vote for both the constitutional changes concerning protection of marriage and the changes in judiciary.

"Important constitutional issues have become the victim of big party trading and bartering," OĽaNO MP Jozef Viskupič told the SITA newswire on February 27. "We think that changes of judiciary or changes in values concerning family should not proceed under the helm the so-called traditional political parties which mind only their own personal success."

(Source: TASR, SITA)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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