Appointment of constitutional judges still in question

President Kiska and Speaker of Parliament Danko met with Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio.

Slovak President Andrej Kiska, left, meeting Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio.Slovak President Andrej Kiska, left, meeting Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio. (Source: SITA)

The issue of candidates for constitutional judges remains a hot topic in Slovakia. Slovak President Andrej Kiska after meeting Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio on November 7, said that he would ask the commission for its legal opinion if parliament would not propose candidates for constitutional judges soon.

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“I expect the Venice Commission to provide concrete answers on how to get Slovakia out of the situation it is currently in,” said Kiska as cited by the TASR newswire, adding that although the commission’s conclusions are not binding, they might prove to be useful.

The meeting focused in particular on the situation that emerged when Kiska refused to appoint constitutional judges from among the candidates proposed by parliament, claiming that certain candidates did not meet the requirements for the post. At the moment the Constitutional Court is not fully staffed, as its 13-member senate still lacks three judges.

Read also: No new Constitutional Court’s candidates proposed for now Read more 

At the meeting Speaker of Parliament Andrej Danko argued that the Slovak parliament is an institution that has the right to evaluate and examine the conditions and the professional qualities of candidates. The president has the power to choose from among the candidates nominated by parliament.

“However, this right does not mean that the President’s Office should re-evaluate the suitability or unsuitability of a candidate and should question the selection criteria and qualification requirements,” said Danko.

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Danko expressed his belief that if the constitutional mechanism fails, the Venice Commission’s stance could contribute towards clarifying discrepancies regarding this issue.

The Venice Commission is an advisory body of the Council of Europe composed of independent experts in the field of constitutional law. Its primary task is to assist and advise individual countries on constitutional matters in order to improve the functioning of democratic institutions and the protection of human rights.

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