The Slovenia Times

Coalition files constitutional changes on judicial appointments


Ljubljana - The coalition filed to parliament on Monday constitutional amendments under which the final nod of approval in judicial appointments would no longer come from parliament but from the Slovenian president. The coalition says that the changes are needed to "depoliticise judicial appointments".

Since a two-thirds majority, or 60 votes in the 90-seat parliament, is needed for such a change, the coalition will seek the opposition New Slovenia's (NSi) support.

The changes tabled by the Freedom Movement, the Social Democrats (SD) and the Left also introduce a three-year trial period before a judge's tenure becomes permanent.

The Judicial Council would still play the main role in the appointment procedure, vetting the candidates.

However, the changes do not affect the appointment of Constitutional Court judges, where the National Assembly has also the final say.

"The office of the president of the republic is much less political than the National Assembly, and the electoral function of the National Assembly in this area is an anomaly," Lucija Tacer, an MP for the ruling Freedom Movement, told the press on Wednesday.

She believes the changes provide for the separation of powers and for the powers of the president and parliament being more evenly balanced.

SD MP Meira Hot said the National Assembly's function was primarily legislative, and the appointment of judges was an anomaly that needed to be addressed.

The practice of appointing judges was not problematic for many years, but then professional criteria were often ignored, especially when it came to Supreme Court judges, over the past two terms, she said.

Similarly, the Left's deputy group leader Matej T. Vatovec said the appointments had become a political battle-ground, especially when "the Democrats (SDS) were in power".

"Judges who were involved in any way in the proceedings against the SDS leader [Janez Janša] were practically automatically disqualified, some of them were not even appointed," he said.

The coalition has 53 votes in parliament, while the NSi has 8 MPs and has recently proposed the same change to the constitution as part of several it has presented.

The National Assembly will now have to first set up a constitutional commission, which is expected at the ongoing plenary, within which a special commission of experts will be set up to deal with the proposed changes.


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