Slovakia

   

Quality of Democracy

#30
Key Findings
Despite fair and inclusive electoral procedures, Slovakia scores relatively poorly (rank 30) with respect to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.5 points since 2014.

Formal campaign-financing rules have been repeatedly strengthened, but enforcement remains weak. Referenda rights are robust, though rarely used. Protests and pushback by journalists and the public forced the public media group to restore an investigative program and back away from its pro-government bias. A large number of private media outlets are controlled by politically well-connected groups.

Civil rights are largely respected. Discrimination against women, LGTBI persons, migrants, and particularly Roma remains a problem. A Justice Ministry campaign to improve transparency and fight corruption in the court system has improved the system, but levels of public trust in the court system remain low.

The murder of a prominent journalist and his fiancée, following his investigation into ruling-party corruption issues, triggered widespread protests, criticism of the state and ultimately the resignation of Prime Minster Fico. The subsequent investigation has been criticized for being lackluster, and a new anti-corruption movement has formed.

Electoral Processes

#4

How fair are procedures for registering candidates and parties?

10
 9

Legal regulations provide for a fair registration procedure for all elections; candidates and parties are not discriminated against.
 8
 7
 6


A few restrictions on election procedures discriminate against a small number of candidates and parties.
 5
 4
 3


Some unreasonable restrictions on election procedures exist that discriminate against many candidates and parties.
 2
 1

Discriminating registration procedures for elections are widespread and prevent a large number of potential candidates or parties from participating.
Candidacy Procedures
10
The procedures for registering candidates and parties in Slovakia are fair and transparent. Regulations governing the electoral process were consolidated in the 2014 election code. Provisions regarding the registration of parties and candidates are liberal and ensure a fair registration procedure. Candidates for presidency must be nominated by at least 15 members of the unicameral National Council or document support from at least 15,000 voters. While independent candidates cannot run for office, candidate lists for parliamentary elections can be nominated by registered political parties, movements and coalitions. For registration, the nominating organizations must obtain 10,000 signatures and make a deposit of €17,000, which is returned only to candidate lists that receive at least 2% of the vote. In October 2018, parliament passed an amendment to the Act on Political Parties which changed the rules for the registration of parties for parliamentary elections and elections to the European Parliament. It has introduced the new requirement of a minimum number of party members of 300 and has banned the use of an individual’s name in the names of parties. Promoted by the Slovak National Party (SNS), a junior coalition party, the amendment was directed against elite party projects with less than 100 party members such as Freedom and Solidarity (SaS), Ordinary People and Independent personalities (OLaNO) and We Are Family – Boris Kollár (Sme rodina – Boris Kollár). However, none of these parties has announced plans to challenge the amendment as discriminatory.

Citations:
N.N. (2018): New law introduces membership regulations for political parties. In: Slovak Spectator, October 17 (https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20939322/new-law-introduces-membership-regulations-for-political-parties.html).

To what extent do candidates and parties have fair access to the media and other means of communication?

10
 9

All candidates and parties have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. All major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of the range of different political positions.
 8
 7
 6


Candidates and parties have largely equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. The major media outlets provide a fair and balanced coverage of different political positions.
 5
 4
 3


Candidates and parties often do not have equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communication. While the major media outlets represent a partisan political bias, the media system as a whole provides fair coverage of different political positions.
 2
 1

Candidates and parties lack equal opportunities of access to the media and other means of communications. The major media outlets are biased in favor of certain political groups or views and discriminate against others.
Media Access
9
Slovakia’s media market is so pluralistic as to ensure that all candidates and parties have fair access to the media. In the case of the 2018 municipal elections, all of the candidates were able to make themselves heard. However, the politicization of the public radio and TV broadcaster RTVS under its new director Jaroslav Rezník has raised some concerns about public media coverage of the upcoming national elections.

Election laws mandate that campaign messages must be clearly distinguished from other media content. Since the parliamentary elections in March 2016, the publication of opinion poll results is no longer allowed in the last 14 days before the elections. In the 2017 regional elections, another controversial rule was applied for the first time. The ban on the broadcasting of political advertisement by TV and radio stations in the 48 hours before election day was criticized for being selective by not including internet broadcasting and broadcasting from abroad. Both problems have not been addressed by parliament or the State Commission for Elections and Political Parties Finance.

To what extent do all citizens have the opportunity to exercise their right of participation in national elections?

10
 9

All adult citizens can participate in national elections. All eligible voters are registered if they wish to be. There are no discriminations observable in the exercise of the right to vote. There are no disincentives to voting.
 8
 7
 6


The procedures for the registration of voters and voting are for the most part effective, impartial and nondiscriminatory. Citizens can appeal to courts if they feel being discriminated. Disincentives to voting generally do not constitute genuine obstacles.
 5
 4
 3


While the procedures for the registration of voters and voting are de jure non-discriminatory, isolated cases of discrimination occur in practice. For some citizens, disincentives to voting constitute significant obstacles.
 2
 1

The procedures for the registration of voters or voting have systemic discriminatory effects. De facto, a substantial number of adult citizens are excluded from national elections.
Voting and Registration Rights
9
The electoral process is largely inclusive. In principle, all adult citizens can participate in elections. There is a special electoral register for Slovak citizens without permanent residence in the country (i.e., homeless people). Since November 2009, only prisoners who have been sentenced for “particularly serious crimes” have been disenfranchised. Their number is estimated at about 1,600. Voters that will not be in their place of residence on election day can ask for a special voter’s pass that enables voting elsewhere. The new Election Code valid since July 2015 has united regulations for all types of elections in Slovakia, thereby removing the discrimination of citizens residing or staying abroad at the time of presidential elections. Unlike in the past, they can now vote by mail in both parliamentary and presidential elections.

To what extent is private and public party financing and electoral campaign financing transparent, effectively monitored and in case of infringement of rules subject to proportionate and dissuasive sanction?

10
 9

The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring to that respect. Effective measures to prevent evasion are effectively in place and infringements subject to effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.
 8
 7
 6


The state enforces that donations to political parties are made public and provides for independent monitoring. Although infringements are subject to proportionate sanctions, some, although few, loopholes and options for circumvention still exist.
 5
 4
 3


The state provides that donations to political parties shall be published. Party financing is subject to some degree of independent monitoring but monitoring either proves regularly ineffective or proportionate sanctions in case of infringement do not follow.
 2
 1

The rules for party and campaign financing do not effectively enforce the obligation to make the donations public. Party and campaign financing is neither monitored independently nor, in case of infringements, subject to proportionate sanctions.
Party Financing
6
After long debate and various failed attempts, new rules on campaign finance were eventually adopted in May 2014 and became effective in July 2015. In October 2018, further amendments to the Act on Political Parties were passed, some of them related to party financing. Financial gifts to political parties from a single donor can no longer exceed €300,000 a year. Other amendments have obliged parties to publish detailed information on loans accepted on their website and to open a central account at the State Treasury to which all financial contributions from the state will be transferred. While the formal rules on party and campaign financing have thus been further refined, their enforcement is still relatively weak.

Do citizens have the opportunity to take binding political decisions when they want to do so?

10
 9

Citizens have the effective opportunity to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums. The set of eligible issues is extensive, and includes national, regional, and local issues.
 8
 7
 6


Citizens have the effective opportunity to take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through either popular initiatives or referendums. The set of eligible issues covers at least two levels of government.
 5
 4
 3


Citizens have the effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure. The set of eligible issues is limited to one level of government.
 2
 1

Citizens have no effective opportunity to vote on issues of importance to them through a legally binding measure.
Popular Decision-Making
8
The Slovak constitution provides far-reaching possibilities for citizens to actively propose and take binding decisions on issues of importance to them through popular initiatives and referendums (articles 93 – 100). Referendums are obligatory in the case of the country entering or withdrawing from an alliance with other states (like the European Union). Furthermore, a referendum can be called for in the case of “other important issues of public interest” (Article 93.2); referendums on basic rights and liberties, taxes, levies, and the state budget are forbidden (Article 93.3). There are two ways to call a referendum: by a resolution of the National Council or on the basis of a petition signed by a minimum of 350,000 citizens. The results of referendums are binding, and the constitutional barriers for changing the decisions are high; only a three-fifths majority in the National Council can overrule a decision made by referendum, and can do so only after three years (Article 99.1). Likewise, no referendum on the same issue can be held until three years have passed (Article 99.2). Similar provisions exist at the local level. In the period under review, however, no nationwide referendum was held, only several local ones took place along with the municipal elections. Moreover, the trade unions have started to collect signatures to initiate a referendum on capping the increase in the retirement age.

Access to Information

#32

To what extent are the media independent from government?

10
 9

Public and private media are independent from government influence; their independence is institutionally protected and fully respected by the incumbent government.
 8
 7
 6


The incumbent government largely respects the independence of media. However, there are occasional attempts to exert influence.
 5
 4
 3


The incumbent government seeks to ensure its political objectives indirectly by influencing the personnel policies, organizational framework or financial resources of public media, and/or the licensing regime/market access for private media.
 2
 1

Major media outlets are frequently influenced by the incumbent government promoting its partisan political objectives. To ensure pro-government media reporting, governmental actors exert direct political pressure and violate existing rules of media regulation or change them to benefit their interests.
Media Freedom
4
The murder of investigative journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in February 2019 has highlighted the limits to media freedom in Slovakia. Of concern is the fact that prominent representatives of the governing coalition, most notably Robert Fico, Smer leader and prime minister until March 2018, and Andrej Danko, head of the SNS and speaker of parliament, have shown a habit of criticizing and intimidating journalists. In addition, the increased politicization of the public radio and TV broadcaster RTVS since June 2017, when Jaroslav Rezník became its new director, has also raised concerns. The government also failed to deal with the threats to Kuciak by the politically well-connected businessman Marian Kočner, a major subject of Kuciak’s investigative work, and has only half-heartedly sought to clarify and investigate the murder. Fico himself downplayed the murder by consistently speaking of the “death of two people” rather than a murder of a journalist. He has continued his attacks on journalists after his resignation as prime minister. In November 2018, over 500 Slovak journalists denounced in a public statement his degrading and offensive statements about journalists.

The conflicts over the politicization of RTVS have intensified since the murder of Kuciak and Kušnírová. In April 2018, Rezník fired four reporters (out of 60) who signed a critical open letter to management. In May 2018, 12 RTVS reporters resigned in protest of the politicization of news coverage under Rezník’s leadership. These conflicts led to an unprecedented mobilization of journalists and the public that forced the RTVS top management to restore the investigative TV program Reportéri, which had been suspended in January 2018, and to rein in its intervention in political affairs. Petra Stano Maťašovská, the head of the RTVS radio news section, had to resign in October 2018 after she had formulated internal rules for RTVS journalists that showed a strong bias for the governing parties.

Citations:
Kalan, D. (2018): Press Freedom Is Still Under Attack in Slovakia, in: Foreign policy, August 8 (https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/08/06/press-freedom-is-still-under-attack-in-slovakia-rtvs-reznik-jan-kuciak-murder-fico-kocner/).

Reporter without borders (2018): Press freedom in Slovakia after investigative reporter’s murder, February 28 (https://rsf.org/en/news/press-freedom-slovakia-after-investigative-reporters-murder).

Školkay, A. (2018): Why Press Freedom in Slovakia is More Complicated Than it looks (Interview), in: World Politics Review, June 13 (https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/24874/why-press-freedom-in-slovakia-is-more-complicated-than-it-looks).

To what extent are the media characterized by an ownership structure that ensures a pluralism of opinions?

10
 9

Diversified ownership structures characterize both the electronic and print media market, providing a well-balanced pluralism of opinions. Effective anti-monopoly policies and impartial, open public media guarantee a pluralism of opinions.
 8
 7
 6


Diversified ownership structures prevail in the electronic and print media market. Public media compensate for deficiencies or biases in private media reporting by representing a wider range of opinions.
 5
 4
 3


Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize either the electronic or the print media market. Important opinions are represented but there are no or only weak institutional guarantees against the predominance of certain opinions.
 2
 1

Oligopolistic ownership structures characterize both the electronic and the print media market. Few companies dominate the media, most programs are biased, and there is evidence that certain opinions are not published or are marginalized.
Media Pluralism
6
As other East-Central European countries, Slovakia has experienced a passing of private media ownership from foreign owners to intransparent domestic owners. A large number of media outlets are now directly or indirectly controlled by a limited number of politically well-connected Slovak financial groups (such as Penta, Grafobal Group, and J&T). In autumn 2014, the Penta financial group entered the media market, buying 45% of Petit Press from the German Rheinisch Bergische Verlagsgesellschaft (RBVG), which publishes the Sme daily, Slovakia’s most influential political daily – a transaction finally approved by the Anti-Monopoly Office in June 2016. Penta, whose true owners are still unknown, has also acquired two other publishing houses, and controls the economic weekly Trend, the daily Plus Jeden Deň and the weekly Plus 7 Dní (the latter two of which are tabloids). In addition, it operates websites and purchases advertising space via its media agency. In 2018, however, Penta’s plans to purchase the media group Central European Media Enterprises (CME) together with the Chinese energy and investment group CEFC failed as CEFC went into some trouble. CME owns several TV stations in six central and eastern European countries, including the most watched private broadcaster in Slovakia, Markíza. If CEFC and Penta would have bought CME, this would have further increased the concentration of the media in Slovakia. Penta’s plans prompted calls for strengthening the regulation of media cross ownership. However, Marek Maďarič, minister of culture in the three Fico governments and a prominent advocate of such a strengthening, resigned after the murder of Ján Kuciak and his initiative has not been taken up by the Pellegrini government.

Citations:
Mediaguru (2018): Infografika: Přehled vlastníků slovenských médií (htpps://www.mediaguru.cz/clanky/2018/09/infografika-prehled-vlastniku-slovenskych-medii/).

To what extent can citizens obtain official information?

10
 9

Legal regulations guarantee free and easy access to official information, contain few, reasonable restrictions, and there are effective mechanisms of appeal and oversight enabling citizens to access information.
 8
 7
 6


Access to official information is regulated by law. Most restrictions are justified, but access is sometimes complicated by bureaucratic procedures. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms permit citizens to enforce their right of access.
 5
 4
 3


Access to official information is partially regulated by law, but complicated by bureaucratic procedures and some poorly justified restrictions. Existing appeal and oversight mechanisms are often ineffective.
 2
 1

Access to official information is not regulated by law; there are many restrictions of access, bureaucratic procedures and no or ineffective mechanisms of enforcement.
Access to Government Information
7
Access to government information is guaranteed by the constitution and the Act on Free Access to Information (Infolaw), which was originally approved in 2000 and has been amended several times since. In mid-2015, parliament started to discuss an ambitious amendment which had been prepared by a commission established by the Ministry of Justice. Moreover, shortly before the parliamentary elections in March 2016, three prominent watchdog organizations (Transparency International Slovensko, Fair-Play Alliance, INEKO) lobbied for improvements in the Infolaw. In particular, they recommended subjecting companies that are fully owned by the state or municipalities to the Infolaw and making public the salaries and CVs of state nominees. Moreover, the agreements signed by the state and municipalities should be published at one place and the state should start to systematically connect the databases about public procurement, founding and ownership of companies, EU funds and owners of property. After the 2016 elections, Lucia Žitňanská, the minister of justice in the third Fico government who resigned after the murder of Ján Kuciak, prepared a draft amendment that incorporated most of these recommendations. However, the Pellegrini government has not pursued the issue.

Citations:
Školkay, A. (2015): Complex amendment to Slovakia’s FOI Act might make it one of the most liberal in Europe. LSE, Media Policy Project Blog, London (http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/mediapolicyproject/2015/04/24/complex-amendment-to-slovakias-foi-act-might-make-it-one-of-the-most-liberal-in-europe/).

Civil Rights and Political Liberties

#31

To what extent does the state respect and protect civil rights and how effectively are citizens protected by courts against infringements of their rights?

10
 9

All state institutions respect and effectively protect civil rights. Citizens are effectively protected by courts against infringements of their rights. Infringements present an extreme exception.
 8
 7
 6


The state respects and protects rights, with few infringements. Courts provide protection.
 5
 4
 3


Despite formal protection, frequent infringements of civil rights occur and court protection often proves ineffective.
 2
 1

State institutions respect civil rights only formally, and civil rights are frequently violated. Court protection is not effective.
Civil Rights
6
In Slovakia, civil rights are largely respected. However, the integrity of the judiciary and the long duration of court proceedings remain a problem, as do the police discrimination and mistreatment of the Roma population. In the period under review, the murder of Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová in February 2018 has raised concerns about the state’s ability to protect its citizens. In his state of the nation address in June 2018, President Kiska identified a crisis of trust in justice and the rule of law and interpreted the murder as “materialization of the consequences of the tolerance of criminal behavior.” A controversial issue for some time has been the ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Within the governing coalition, Smer-SD and SNS have opposed ratification, and after the resignation of Prime Minister Fico, SNS leader Andrej Danko was quick to put the issue on the government agenda. These events led the members of the government’s Council for Human Rights, National Minority and Gender Equality to issue a joint statement expressing their concern that an issue of fundamental rights has become a topic of negative political and ideological campaigning.

Citations:
Terenzani, M., R. Minarechová (2018): Istanbul ratification still nowhere in sight, in: Slovak Spectator, April 19 (https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20807159/istanbul-ratification-still-nowhere-in-sight.html).

To what extent does the state concede and protect political liberties?

10
 9

All state institutions concede and effectively protect political liberties.
 8
 7
 6


All state institutions for the most part concede and protect political liberties. There are only few infringements.
 5
 4
 3


State institutions concede political liberties but infringements occur regularly in practice.
 2
 1

Political liberties are unsatisfactory codified and frequently violated.
Political Liberties
8
In Slovakia, political rights are largely respected. Citizens can freely join independent political and civic groups. The Ministry of Interior has registered over 35Pr,000 such associations and over 60 political parties, though only 23 of which took part in the 2016 parliamentary elections. In the period under review, the murder of Kuciak and Kušnírová evoked the biggest protests since the Velvet revolution in 1989. The movement “For a Decent Slovakia” that emerged from these protests continued to rally in autumn, criticizing the lack of progress made in investigating the murder. Prominent representatives of the governing coalition have defamed the demonstrators.

How effectively does the state protect against different forms of discrimination?

10
 9

State institutions effectively protect against and actively prevent discrimination. Cases of discrimination are extremely rare.
 8
 7
 6


State anti-discrimination protections are moderately successful. Few cases of discrimination are observed.
 5
 4
 3


State anti-discrimination efforts show limited success. Many cases of discrimination can be observed.
 2
 1

The state does not offer effective protection against discrimination. Discrimination is widespread in the public sector and in society.
Non-discrimination
5
While Slovakia has fairly sophisticated anti-discrimination legislation in place, the discrimination of women, Roma, LGBTI persons and migrants continues to be a major problem. The Roma population has suffered from the lack of access to adequate housing, the pervasive segregation of Roma children and their very high dropout levels in the education system, the excessive use of force by police officers during raids carried out in Roma settlements and various manifestations of hate speech. The new commissioner (government proxy) for Roma affairs appointed by the third Fico government (nominated by Most-Híd) has been only slowly gaining public support and political standing. A 2018 report of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) underlined the continuing discrimination of Roma and recommended measures to eliminate discrimination against members of the Roma minority. Moreover, CERD also expressed regret over the Slovak government ignoring its previous recommendations on creating an independent institution to investigate crimes committed by the police. The CERD again recommended that the government quickly create such an institution.

Citations:
United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (2018): Concluding observations on the combined eleventh and twelfth periodic reports of Slovakia. CERD/C/SVK/CO/11-12, Geneva (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/SKIndex.aspx).

Rule of Law

#30

To what extent do government and administration act on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions to provide legal certainty?

10
 9

Government and administration act predictably, on the basis of and in accordance with legal provisions. Legal regulations are consistent and transparent, ensuring legal certainty.
 8
 7
 6


Government and administration rarely make unpredictable decisions. Legal regulations are consistent, but leave a large scope of discretion to the government or administration.
 5
 4
 3


Government and administration sometimes make unpredictable decisions that go beyond given legal bases or do not conform to existing legal regulations. Some legal regulations are inconsistent and contradictory.
 2
 1

Government and administration often make unpredictable decisions that lack a legal basis or ignore existing legal regulations. Legal regulations are inconsistent, full of loopholes and contradict each other.
Legal Certainty
6
Government and administration in Slovakia largely act on the basis of the law. However, legal certainty has suffered from frequent legal amendments and opaque laws. The high level of political polarization in Slovakia, combined with frequent changes in government, has made many laws rather short lived. As a result of frequent amendments, many laws have come opaque and inconsistent. This situation was widely criticized by many NGOs and watchdog organizations. In response, parliament in November 2015 approved two important amendments to improve things. First, it changed the act on lawmaking, introducing the public’s right to participate in lawmaking and stipulating that each governmental legislative draft has to be submitted for public discussion. Second, the rules of procedure for parliament were changed to prohibit “legislative adjuncts,” that is, the opportunity to change existing legislation by amending drafts that are currently under discussion, a practice often used to avoid lengthy parliamentary readings. Legal certainty has suffered also from the fact that the Constitutional Court has lacked a unifying normative background. While many court decisions have been inspired by the case law set by the European Court of Human Rights and the rulings of other European constitutional courts, particularly the German one, others have been based on specific and not always transparent views of individual justices.

To what extent do independent courts control whether government and administration act in conformity with the law?

10
 9

Independent courts effectively review executive action and ensure that the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 8
 7
 6


Independent courts usually manage to control whether the government and administration act in conformity with the law.
 5
 4
 3


Courts are independent, but often fail to ensure legal compliance.
 2
 1

Courts are biased for or against the incumbent government and lack effective control.
Judicial Review
6
The Slovakian court system has for long suffered from low-quality decisions, a high backlog of cases, rampant corruption and repeated government intervention. Positive changes were brought about from within the judiciary after the disempowerment of Stefan Harabín, a controversial figure who had held major positions in the Slovak judiciary for some time. Lucia Žitňanská, the minister of justice from March 2016 to March 2018 sought sought to foster transparency and fight corruption in the judicial system. Among other things, the ministry launched a new database to be used for improving the training of justices and their allocation to the courts. While the length of court proceedings has been shortened, concerns over the independence of the judiciary persist. The EU Justice Scoreboard ranks Slovakia as the country with the worst perception of judicial independence. The Constitutional Court has generally operated independently of the executive branch of government. However, its performance has suffered from a high backlog of cases, aggravated by a long-standing stalemate between President Kiska and parliament over the appointment of new justices. In the period under review, a number of decisions by the Constitutional Court have been criticized for an inconsistent interpretation of the law. The murder of Kuciak and Kušnírová has further reduced citizens’ low level of trust in their courts.

Citations:
Ľalík, T. (2017): Tracing constitutional changes in Slovakia between 2008-2016, in: Hungarian Journal of Legal Studies 58(2): 117-138.

To what extent does the process of appointing (supreme or constitutional court) justices guarantee the independence of the judiciary?

10
 9

Justices are appointed in a cooperative appointment process with special majority requirements.
 8
 7
 6


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies with special majority requirements or in a cooperative selection process without special majority requirements.
 5
 4
 3


Justices are exclusively appointed by different bodies without special majority requirements.
 2
 1

All judges are appointed exclusively by a single body irrespective of other institutions.
Appointment of Justices
6
The justices of the Constitutional Court (CC) and the Supreme Court (SC) are selected for 12 years by the president on the basis of proposals made by the parliament (National Council of the Slovak Republic), without any special majority requirement. From 2014 to the end of 2017, the selection of justices was paralyzed by a struggle between President Kiska, who had made judicial reform a priority in his successful presidential campaign in 2014, and the Smer-SD-dominated parliament. Ignoring a decision by the CC, Kiska blocked the appointment of new justices, arguing that the candidates greenlighted by the National Council lack the proper qualifications for Constitutional Court justices. As a result, three out of 19 seats in the CC remained vacant until Kiska eventually gave in in early December 2017. Kiska’s retreat was favored by recommendations by the so-called Venice Commission (Council of Europe’s European Commission for Democracy Through Law) in March 2017. While the latter criticized Kiska for blocking the appointments, it sided with him in calling for stricter criteria for nominated judges. Despite a broad consensus on the need for changes, an amendment proposed by Justice Minister Gál failed to muster sufficient support in parliament in October 2018. As a result, the coming replacement of nine out of 13 CC judges in February 2019, which will have considerable influence on the Slovak judicial system in the next decade, will take place under the old rules.

Citations:
N.N. (2018): Parliament election of Constitutional Court judges will not change, in: Slovak Spectator, October 24 (https://spectator.sme.sk/c/20945235/parliament-election-of-constitutional-judges-will-not-change.html).

Ovádek, M. (2018): Drama or Serenity? Upcoming Judicial Appointments at the Slovak Constitutional Court, in: Verfasssungsblog, January 29 (https://verfassungsblog.de/drama-or-serenity-upcoming-judicial-Appointments-at-the-slovak-constitutional-court/).

To what extent are public officeholders prevented from abusing their position for private interests?

10
 9

Legal, political and public integrity mechanisms effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 8
 7
 6


Most integrity mechanisms function effectively and provide disincentives for public officeholders willing to abuse their positions.
 5
 4
 3


Some integrity mechanisms function, but do not effectively prevent public officeholders from abusing their positions.
 2
 1

Public officeholders can exploit their offices for private gain as they see fit without fear of legal consequences or adverse publicity.
Corruption Prevention
5
Corruption is the most sensitive political problem undermining political stability and quality of democracy in Slovakia. The previous two governments headed by Robert Fico did not pay much attention to anti-corruption efforts and were shaken by several corruption scandals. The government manifesto of the third Fico government contained some anti-corruption measures, and Lucia Žitňanská (Most-Híd), the minister of justice until her voluntary resignation in March 2018. The alleged corruption case involving Minister of Interior Robert Kaliňák and Prime Minister Fico has continued to attract the most attention. Their links to Ladislav Basternak, a businessman involved in fraud, have led to several votes of no confidence. Thanks to the government’s parliamentary majority, the interior minister survived all of them, and had to resign only after the murder of Ján Kuciak and Martina Kušnírová. The fact that Kuciak was murdered because of his investigations regarding links between the mafia, oligarchs and top politicians testifies to the pervasiveness of corruption in Slovakia, and so does the reluctant investigation of the two murders. In the wake of anti-corruption demonstrations, a new initiative Chceme Veriť (We Want to Believe) launched by leading NGOs (Fair-Play Alliance, Via Iuris, Slovak Governance Institute, Human Rights League, Open Society Foundation, Pontis Foundation and Stop Corruption foundation) has demanded that the new Pellegrini government implement more effective measures to combat corruption. These demands include installing trustworthy leadership in the police force and among prosecution efforts, strengthening police independence, and subjecting the Prosecutor’s Office to mechanisms of public control.
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