Slovak president ups the ante in standoff with government over constitutional court

By bne IntelliNews November 8, 2016

Slovak President Andrej Kiska threatened on November 7 to ask the Venice Commission - the advisory body to the Council of Europe on constitutional matters - to back him with a legal opinion in a growing fight over the country's constitutional court.

The court only currently has just 10 of its 13 senate seats filled. Two have been empty since 2014, when Kiska rejected five candidates, while another was vacated in February. The president complains the government has failed to submit new candidates after he rejected several. The government, however, says the president should choose from amongst the candidates it presents. Kiska complains the court itself has failed to back his stance.

"I expect the Venice Commission to provide concrete answers on how to get Slovakia out of the situation it's currently in," Kiska said after meeting Venice Commission President Gianni Buquicchio, according to TASR. While he admits the EU body's legal opinion would not be binding, Kiska suggests it might prove useful.

Parliamentary Chairman Andrej Danko told reporters the government will provide the Venice Commission with full cooperation in resolving the issue. However, he insisted it is only parliament that has the right to evaluate the professional qualities of candidates, and that the president only has the power to choose from among those nominated by parliament.

The president, in July, rejected five candidates put forward by the coalition government, claiming they have no track record of interest in constitutional law. The constitutional court is currently deciding on complaints filed by the rejected candidates.

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