Večer happy top court in for long staffing break

Ljubljana – The Constitutional Court has had a hard time during the epidemic while attempts to fill one vacancy took a year and a half, the newspaper Večer says on Saturday ahead of Constitution Day. It is good news that new judges will not have to be elected for several years now, which could give the top court some time to recuperate.

A peculiar period is ending for the top court, as it got a new president and vice-president when the Slovenian constitution’s anniversary was marked on Friday.

It took a year and a half to appoint the ninth judge on the nine-strong court’s panel of judges this autumn, Večer says.

It adds that over his two five-year terms, President Borut Pahor has completely overhauled the court as the person who nominates candidates for top court judges.

Barring something extraordinary, there will be no need to appoint new constitutional court judges until the second half of this decade, which is good news.

Once they will have to be appointed, Pahor will no longer be president, which Večer says will be an occasion to test his words that his role of being a shock absorber could be easier to realise once he is no longer president.

Večer says “it is high time for a staffing break” at the court, as the latest painful search for the ninth judge has shaken to the bone relations among politicians, the branches of power, and among the judiciary.

“It is hard to imagine any other formation to be as cannibalistic as the Slovenian.” Here even judges are consumer goods used for daily (ab)use. Politics from the lowest to the top echelons comments on ongoing proceedings while it discredits and erases ‘non-ours ad hominem.

It is also urgent that the judges should take some time off to engage in reflection in a bid to close ranks, battered from interference from the outside and not entirely unharmed by internal disagreements.

Under its president Rajko Knez, the court has managed to remain whole, keeping the decision-making process within the expected range of polyphony.

In this sense, the new leadership of president Matej Accetto and vice-president Rok Čeferin is still at the start. “But because of the Slovenian legal order’s history and the demanding present for justice, the pair must simply be up to the task.”

Turning to the super-election year 2022, Večer says it has been three years since the top court said the country’s electoral system should be “improved”, which the decision-makers failed to do, having made only minimal changes.

Now that we are witnessing populism of all colours marching in the election campaign, one can only imagine how it would be if the country had a preference vote put in place, concludes the commentary Welcome to 2022.