Member of the SD Meira Hot she said that the Parliament is aware that interventions in the constitution must be considered, but at the same time society is changing rapidly, so it must be possible to amend the constitution. According to her, the longest in the process is the initiative to transfer the appointment of judges from the Parliament to the President of the Republic, which would be done on the proposal of the Judicial Council. At the same time, the initiative also proposes increasing the number of members of the Judicial Council from 11 to 15 and transferring the authority to appoint external members of the Judicial Council, i.e. those who are not elected by judges from among themselves, from the President of the Republic to the DZ.
An attempt to control the judiciary
Vice President of the Supreme Court Nina Betetto sharply criticized the proposal of the Constitutional Commission of the DZ, which, in the package of transferring the appointment of judges to the President of the Republic, also proposes an amendment to Article 131 of the Constitution, which regulates the composition of the Judicial Council. She called it a “rotten egg” and sees it as an attempt to control the judiciary.
At this point, according to Betetto’s warning, the question arises of how to force the opposition and the position to constructively cooperate in the appointment of these members in order to achieve a two-thirds majority. As a mechanism against such a blockade, she proposed a council of wise men, which would consist of representatives of the judiciary, lawyers, the ombudsman of human rights and others, and would be competent to appoint non-judicial members of the judicial council in the event of a blockade of the DZ.
Changing the constitution through political compromise
Also the President of the Judicial Council Vladimir Horvat he warned that at this point the constitution is being changed again through political compromise. This is unacceptable for the judicial council, he was clear. The constitutional commission’s proposal that the DZ should elect members of the judicial council with a two-thirds majority of the members present “leads to a marked politicization of the procedure, in which the appointment of members will only be a matter of coordination between political parties,” was criticized. Horvat believes that it would be better for the external members of the judicial council to continue to be appointed by the president of the republic as the most democratically legitimate body.
He also criticized the proposed expansion of the number of members of the judicial council from 11 to 15 members, which will weaken the operation of this body, as the discussions will be longer and, at the same time, it will be more difficult to reach a consensus. Horvat added that an increase in financial resources will be necessary for the operation of this body, and there will also be a greater need for premises and strengthening of the professional service.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” said the president of the Slovenian Association of Judges Vesna Bergant Rakočević. She joined the criticisms made by Betetto and Horvat regarding the reduction of the operativeness of this body, since its decisions require a two-thirds majority, and the appointment of external members. “We are afraid that this will become some trade between the popular representatives,” she said regarding the proposal to appoint non-judicial members.
Zalar: This is the first time I hear these criticisms
Chairman of the expert group of the DZ for the preparation of amendments to the constitution in the field of appointing judges Ales Zalar regarding these criticisms, he said that he was hearing them for the first time, as the representatives of the Judges’ Association, the Supreme Court and the Judicial Council did not oppose it in two rounds of consultations.
Regarding the expansion of the number of members of the judicial council, he said that this is consistent with the scope of the Slovenian judiciary. Slovenia ranks second in the EU in terms of the number of judges per population. In addition, the Judicial Council already has a very wide range of powers, which is why it is ineffective, which it itself admits in its annual reports, Zalar continued.
According to the proposed constitutional amendments, his powers will increase even more, while the President of the Republic would only formalize the decisions of the Judicial Council and give them democratic legitimacy. The size of the judicial council is also important from the point of view of the legitimacy of this body, Zalar believes.
Only SDS opposes the proposal
The proposed changes envisage that judges would no longer be elected by the DZ on the proposal of the Judicial Council, but would be appointed by the President of the Republic. The Judicial Council, which would decide on proposals for the appointment of judges with a two-thirds majority vote of all members, would have 15 members instead of the current 11. Seven members would be elected by the DZ with a two-thirds majority of the votes of the deputies present from university professors of law, lawyers and other established jurists, and eight would be judges from among their ranks. Members of the Judicial Council would be elected for six years and could not be re-elected. The president would be elected from among its members for a period of three years. The Judicial Council would be governed by a special law.
The proposal is opposed only in the SDS parliamentary group, other parliamentary groups and the government support it.
The judges set a deadline: if there are no higher wages, preparations for a strike will follow