Slovenia’s New Govt.: Plan to Give Voters More Say in Elections & Judicial Appointments (Feature)

By , 22 Aug 2018, 09:59 AM Politics
Slovenia’s New Govt.: Plan to Give Voters More Say in Elections & Judicial Appointments (Feature) JL Flanner

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STA, 21 August 2018 - The election system and in particular the appointment of judges are in for some major changes under the future coalition. The STA has learnt that plans include a greater say for voters when it comes to determining which candidates make it to parliament as well as the end of judicial appointments by parliament. 

Along with bigger voter influence on who becomes MP, the five centre-left parties, which are supported by the Left, are also thinking about introducing an extra voting day and leaving polling stations open until 10 PM as opposed to 7 PM.

Moreover, electronic voting is being considered for the early voting phase of elections and as a test for a potential future introduction of general e-voting.

Also planned is an act regulating political foundations as well as stricter rules on the foreign financing of parties and entities affiliated with them.

The new government would also revive the debate on potentially abolishing or reforming the National Council, the upper chamber of parliament. In case it is scrapped, the right to veto laws would be transferred to the president of the country.

Meanwhile, some far-reaching changes are also planned in the judiciary, especially in the appointment of judges.

Judges, who currently have life tenure once appointed, would be subjected to a three-year test period.

Moreover, they would no longer be appointed by parliament, but by the president upon the proposal of the Judicial Council or directly by the Judicial Council, whose composition would be subjected to exacter criteria.

Also, potential judges would have to undergo additional specialised and practical training before appointment.

Meanwhile, the coalition would make it easier for higher courts to hand down final verdicts as opposed to sending cases into retrial at a lower instance.

Another major issue highlighted among the coalition priorities is overcrowded prisons and closed psychiatric wards.

While Judicial Council president Barbara Nerad argued for the STA that the measures planned are still too vague for a concrete assessment, her predecessor Marko Novak provided some comment.

Novak opposes a test period for judges, saying that the status of such judges compared to those with "full powers" would be unclear. "I doubt we would get better judges this way, their independence would however probably be put in peril," he said.

Novak is convinced the current procedures at the Judicial Council already provided a good basis for the choice of judges.

He would instead provide more support for the council, for instance with more funding that would allow it to conduct additional competence checks, including with psychological tests. Novak does not agree with stricter criteria for membership on the council, saying no major issues were being noticed here.

He also does not understand plans for specialised and practical training, saying judges already needed to pass the bar exam and work as assistants at a court before being appointed.

Novak meanwhile agrees with ending the parliamentary appointment of judges, noting that all other European countries had already done so. He however feels the president should not be in the position to de facto block appointments, which is what happened in Poland.

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