The Slovenia Times

Political Comedy: New Anti-Graft Commission Boss Determined to Stay


While both of his newly appointed deputy presidents of the commission resigned in the face of a general uproar over the revelation of Štefanec's PS affiliation and attacks are mounting on President Boris Pahor for not halting the appointment, Štefanec said that nothing had changed since the appointment that would make him consider resigning.

He said he would fully execute the "president's order" on his appointment for a six-year term at the helm of the anti-graft commission, whose previous leadership resigned last November over lack of political support.

Štefanec dismissed views that the doubts expressed by Pahor about the appointment procedure on the day he announced his decision should have been reason enough for Štefanec to resign. The 59-year-old lawyer said Pahor had assured him he had only been criticising the present form of the appointment procedure.

Turning to whether Pahor had been informed about his PS membership, he explained that Pahor had refrained from asking him about party affiliation on the day before the appointment. However he was contacted on the same day by Pahor's office with this query and wrote back he was a PS member.

"Thus, I never withheld anything from the president," Štefanec said, adding that it was unfortunately customary in Slovenia that decisions adopted in line with laws and the Constitution are questioned and that people are not capable of respecting the authority of the president.

While arguing he resigned as PS member before the appointment to prevent the membership "of being an obstacle to my work", Štefanec stressed that having political convictions is a constitutionally secured human right and basic freedom.

Thus, the screening commission that proposed him to Pahor would have violated the Constitution had it quizzed about his political convictions, he said, adding that this is being now done by those who are asking him to resign.

Štefanec, who was the only candidate for president put forward by the screening commission, regrets the resignation of his deputies but does not wish to comment on it.

As regards doubts about his impartiality, for instance in the cases against PS founder Zoran Janković or opposition leader Janez Janša, he said that two cases are finished for the commission.

"If they are annulled and returned to the commission we will of course need to deal with them. But we will above all deal with 4,900 other cases," he announced, while expressing his view that Janković should have resigned immediately and not make the PS his hostage.

Meanwhile, members of the screening commission defended their choice again today, saying the law prevented them from asking candidates about sexual orientation, religious or political beliefs.

Candidates were asked whether there were any circumstances that could make the public doubt their integrity and Štefanec said he had a high level of integrity and owed nothing to anyone.

The head of the screening commission Simona Habič moreover explained that PS MP Melita Župevc, who was part of the commission interviewing candidates for deputy commission presidents, had notified them about the possibility of Štefanec being a PS member.

They tried to check the rumours on the internet and established that he is obviously not a visible party member.

They moreover established that the law and Constitution prevented using party affiliation as grounds for exclusion in the appointment procedure in which Štefanec was simply picked as the one best fulfilling the criteria that had been set down beforehand.

The screening commission members also commented on attacks on the commission over its decision to discard the tapes of the interviews. RTV Slovenija reported that the commission had designated them for internal use only. They were not defined as information of public interest and the candidates were assured they would be destroyed.

The opposition Democrats (SDS) however believe that the provisions of the act on access to public information were violated and have reported the commission to authorities. They claim that official documents had been destroyed and the right of candidates to defend themselves with this evidence violated.


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