THE CHRISTIAN Democratic Movement (KDH) has agreed with the ruling Smer party on a joint action to amend the Constitution, despite the previous statements of KDH representatives that such deal was out of the question.
The KDH, with some reservations, will endorse the changes in the judiciary proposed by Smer, while Smer will vote to amend the Constitution to define marriage as a bond between a man and a woman. While local as well as international LGBTI rights advocates criticised the latter move, some opposition politicians and observers slammed the KDH for supporting changes in the judiciary that are not going to bring the needed remedy for the justice system that currently enjoys historically low trust among citizens.
Any changes to the Constitution require 90 votes in parliament. The ruling Smer party has a majority of 83 votes in the house.
The proposed date for the new amendment to come into effect has been set for October.
"The agreement is the fruit of a broad political dialogue, mainly featuring [Smer chairman and Prime Minister] Robert Fico and [KDH chairman] Ján Figeľ,” Parliamentary Speaker Pavol Paška of Smer said on February 28, as quoted by the TASR newswire. “We're submitting the bill together. It will be passed to the second reading, and I'd welcome it if all standard political parties were involved in an expert debate on the bill.”
Under the joint amendment, the posts of Supreme Court chairman and Judicial Council chairman should be split between two officials. The council's chairman is to be selected by the same body's members. The immunity from prosecution that applies to judges is to be scrapped. Meanwhile, Smer's idea of subjecting all judges to security clearances by the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) has been scrapped, but Paška said that judges should still be subject to a check for possible links with individuals with a criminal history. He added that if no provision in this regard is inserted into the bill during the House's debate on it, Smer will vote against the bill as a whole.
Meanwhile, the KDH has successfully pushed for introducing into the Constitution a provision whereby the state would grant protection to marriage defined as a union of a man and a woman.
Head of KDH's parliamentary caucus Pavol Hrušovský, who is the official presidential candidate of his and two more opposition parties, pointed to the low enforceability of law in Slovakia and the resulting need to act.
Both Paška and Hrušovský rejected notions of 'political bartering' and 'a marketing campaign' ahead of the presidential elections, adding that the initiative comes down to well-meant intentions to improve the current state of affairs.
PM Robert Fico, also running in the presidential election, embraced the fact that Smer and the KDH have agreed on a joint constitutional bill introducing changes to the judiciary and the protection of marriage. He said that the deal lays the groundwork for enacting requirements vis-a-vis the professional and moral qualifications of judges for their work, TASR reported.
"Smer takes it on board that the security clearances of judges require a thorough expert analysis whereby no questions regarding this proposal would be raised. Unless we reach agreement on including the clearances of judges in the Constitution, the proposal won't be supported by a constitutional majority of votes," said Fico, as quoted by TASR.
To read more, see Marriage now part of the campaign.
Compiled by Michaela Terenzani from press reports.
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information
presented in its Flash News postings.
3. Mar 2014 at 14:00