After giving his New Year’s speech about the importance of democracy and moral values in our evolving Slovak society, President Ivan Gasparovic duly announced that he would not be respecting the parliamentary vote on the Attorney General post from June 2011, and so would not be electing Jozef Centes to the post.
Not exactly a new year’s surprise, as it is clear to everyone that Gasparovic has been holding the hand of Robert Fico every step of the way in both terms of office, and with such a crucial post at stake, Gasparovic stalled for over a year and a half before finally announcing on his website that he would not appoint Centes as his ‘morality’ was in question.
The President’s first step into the New Year was met with a storm of outrage from the opposition, who had managed to get their candidate Centes duly voted into the post, after months of wrangling and political games. The post has been without a duly appointed official since February 2011.
Under the previous Robert Fico government the post was held by current deputy AG, Dobroslav Trnka, who ended his 7-year term in February 2011. All kinds of games and legal loopholes were employed as the left and right wings fought to get control over the vacant post. The whole charade was accompanied by conflicts within the governing coalition, parliamentary walkouts, legal contentions at the Constitutional Court, and in the end, the defiance of President Ivan Gasparovic to appoint Centes. Centes was voted in by blind ballot on 17 June 2011.
Centes has lodged another petition with the Constitutional Court contesting the President’s latest move, and there is a chance that a preliminary injunction will be issued, blocking any election until it is resolved. In any case, the whole political squabbling and blatant promotion of self interests in the whole affair is in itself disgusting.
So now the way is paved for Robert Fico to plant his own candidate in place, thanks to the luxurious parliamentary majority his Smer-SD party enjoys, and will continue to enjoy for a long time to come according to opinion polls.
So what does it mean for the country? Everything and nothing.
Everything in the sense that once again the country has failed to uphold certain democratic institutions like a parliamentary vote and a Constitutional Court ruling, simply because the President does not “favour” a particular character for the job.
Nothing, because the status quo will be maintained and we can continue to expect the Attorney General’s Office to keep raising the pile under the carpet.