The election of an Attorney General in Slovakia will most likely never be a simple affair, and even though the nominee of the outgoing four-party coalition Jozef Centes was duly elected in a blind ballot vote in parliament in June last year, this crucial post has remained empty for over a year already.
The problem arises because the post should be occupied by someone with maximum neutrality and integrity, something that most Slovak politicians are not such experts on. Needless to say, especially with the Gorilla accusations hanging over so many top politicians, getting control over such an important body as the Attorney General’s Office could be a matter of life or death, at least politically.
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 as he personally did not have faith in him (this excuse was given after 7 months of stalling).
Given that Robert Fico and President Gasparovic have long had amicable and mutually fruitful relations, it is hard for some to imagine that the President is acting on his own conscience. One person who definitely believes that Fico has been manipulating Gasparovic’s decision, is head of the SDKU party Mikulas Dzurinda, who has made his opinion clear at a recent press conference.
After a parliamentary resolution to pressure the President failed last week again, Dzurinda and his SDKU party have launched a petition today by which they hope to force the President to appoint Centes, preferably before the elections. The President has, rather arrogantly, already referred to the petition as futile, saying it is just a way of trying to detract attention from the Gorilla affair. Dzurinda says that his party would do everything in its power to make sure dodgy affairs were not swept under the carpet, even though he and his party are at the centre of corruption suspicions thanks to the Gorilla affair.
Meanwhile the four governing coalition parties (SDKU, KDH, SaS and Most-Hid) plan to petition to the Constitutional Court to determine whether President Gasparovic can postpone the appointment of Centes. By law the President is obliged to ensure the due operation of state bodies.
In all likelihood, Centes will now never be appointed to the post and the whole system of finding and approving a new candidate can be expected to start after next month’s elections, the outcome of which will be crucial also in this respect. Maybe political parties should have no say at all in who becomes the Attorney General, considering the gravity and nature of some of the cases that are dealt with, such as those surrounding the Gorilla affair, but that would probably just spoil the game.