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SLOVAK WORD OF THE WEEK

Rada

HERE’S a little rada (advice) for the members of the Judicial ‘rada’ (council). Stop, before it’s too late. The presidential elections may have received the most attention, but the upcoming elections of the new head of the Supreme Court may be just as significant. The selection of Štefan Harabin five years ago proved just as disastrous as expected - the former justice minister with unexplained ties with a Kosovar drug lord manipulated proceedings and permanently intimidated his perceived enemies within the judiciary.

HERE’S a little rada (advice) for the members of the Judicial ‘rada’ (council). Stop, before it’s too late. The presidential elections may have received the most attention, but the upcoming elections of the new head of the Supreme Court may be just as significant. The selection of Štefan Harabin five years ago proved just as disastrous as expected - the former justice minister with unexplained ties with a Kosovar drug lord manipulated proceedings and permanently intimidated his perceived enemies within the judiciary.

Since president-elect Andrej Kiska has said throughout the campaign that he would not reappoint Harabin, he is now trying to get the job before Kiska takes office. It is up to Smer and outgoing president Ivan Gašparovič to determine whether he will succeed. The government and parliament have six members in the council, and Prime Minister Robert Fico could give them an explicit instruction not to vote for Harabin. But even if he does get enough votes, Gašparovič can block Harabin’s appointment the same way he did with Jozef Čentéš. The difference being that this time he would actually have two good reasons for doing so.

Firstly, unlike the unsuccessful candidate for attorney general, Harabin really is a threat to the proper functioning of the judiciary. And secondly, the president has very little legitimacy to make this decision, which will effect the country years ahead.

Yes, formally Gašparovič will have all presidential powers until his last day in office. But his successor now has a much more recent mandate to make big decisions. And few will be bigger during his term than this one.

Harabin is one of the last relics of the era of Vladimír Mečiar. The other prominent figure from the troubled 90s still in high office is Gašparovič. If they leave together, the public will certainly be rada (glad).

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