29 September 2022

Attack or Reform – Mária Kolíková’s legacy

Judicial reforms are always a sensitive topic. Judicial independence is a fundamental principle of liberal democracy and the rule of law. It is often treated like a golden calf, and this worship falls into a ritual. Therefore any interference with the judiciary by the executive or legislative power always raises attention. However, what distinguishes reform from an attack? Part II of this article on the Slovak judicial reform compare latest interventions in the judiciary to other reforms in Visegrad countries. Continue reading >>
28 September 2022

Mária Kolíková is leaving

A few weeks ago in Slovakia, after the last step of the reforms of the judiciary structure and the separation of powers was achieved, the coalition crisis broke out in full scope. Furthermore, after a two months long ultimatum, the liberals left the coalition. This step also meant the resignation of the Justice Minister, who was responsible for the judicial reform over the last two years. Now is the right time to summarize how Justice Minister Mária Kolíková succeeded in her efforts to reform the judiciary. This is part I of a two part article on the Slovak reform of the judiciary. Continue reading >>
09 Mai 2022

The Costs of Mass Surveillance in Slovakia

Solving the dilemma of how much surveillance is needed to maintain security and not crossing the threshold of its excessive interference with rights is not easy. It is an ongoing process, also in Slovakia, influenced by many factors - the fight against terrorism, despite not being a prominent threat for the country, has been one of the major drivers of invasive state surveillance. When this happens in the context of weak institutions, it leads to the deterioration of democracy. Continue reading >>
14 September 2021

The People v Their Representatives

On July 7, 2021, the Slovak Constitutional Court found a referendum initiative on a snap election unconstitutional. The case presented the Court with an unresolved question, whether the people can remove their elected representatives from office ahead of time. The Court’s answer was a qualified no. When people resort to direct democracy tools, the Court found, they are not only bound by explicit subject-matter restrictions on the use of referenda but also implicit norms under the doctrine of the material core. The people have a great power to make or unmake constitutional law but cannot breach it in an irregular use of a referendum. Continue reading >>
02 September 2021

General Prosecutor, the Supreme Leader of the Slovak Republic?

On 31 August 2021, General Prosecutor of the Slovak Republic annulled charges against former director of the Slovak Secret Service and four other high-profile individuals held in custody due to corruption allegations. Many Slovak politicians have clearly become accustomed to the GP/SP serving as a crucial line of defence against undesired effects of the justice system. The 7-year term conferred on the GP in a secret vote by MPs is meant to enhance his or her independence. In practice, the length of the term and near irremovability has more often than not protected the GP from accountability for their actions. Continue reading >>
28 März 2021

The Impossible Art of Populist Government

One year after it was formed, the Slovak government is falling apart. As of 25 March 2021, six out of sixteen ministers have resigned their position. For the moment, the government commands a parliamentary majority and therefore a reshuffle of executive positions is more likely than a snap election. The root of the political crisis is singular: Igor Matovič, the prime minister, is deemed impossible to work with by two out of four coalition parties and an increasing proportion of the broader public. The future of the coalition will to a large extent depend on his willingness to step down from the government. Continue reading >>
09 März 2021

Slovakia’s Democracy and the COVID-19 Pandemic: When Executive Communication Fails

In spring 2020, Slovakia was praised for minimizing the instances of the COVID-19 pandemic. By early 2021, however, with Slovakia among the top five countries with the highest increase of COVID-19-induced death cases, a very different picture has emerged, highlighting the costs of neglecting democracy considerations (encompassing human rights and the rule of law) by the executive in particular.  Continue reading >>
03 Dezember 2020

On Collision Course with the Material Core of the Slovak Constitution

Last week on Tuesday, the Constitutional Committee of the Slovak Parliament discussed the most extraordinary subject in a meeting attended by a most extraordinary guest. The Committee was reviewing a draft constitutional amendment on judicial reform that would, among other things, take away the power of the Constitutional Court to review constitutional amendments. At the meeting, the Minister of Justice and MPs discussed potential benefits and drawbacks of stripping the Court of the jurisdiction to review constitutional amendments, with the President of the Court seated next to them. The proposal represents the last escalation in the conflict about who has the final word on the contents of the Constitution. Continue reading >>
26 November 2020

Dissimilar Similarities

In the EU, most attention is paid to the judicial reforms underway in Hungary and Poland, which threaten judicial independence and the rule of law. The concurrent judicial reforms in Norway and Slovakia have received almost no attention. Although quite dissimilar to the former set, the latter underscore that institutional reforms cannot be viewed apart from their social and political settings. Continue reading >>
22 Mai 2020

Slovakia: Change of Government under COVID-19 Emergency

The Slovak experience with the COVID-19 pandemic has been affected by the fact that the outbreak took place at the time of a change in government. The new government, because of its relative inexperience and populist tendencies, has committed mistakes, often amounting to an infringement of citizens' fundamental rights and freedoms, especially the freedom of movement. Continue reading >>
17 Dezember 2019

Democratic (Dis)Armament

On 3 September 2019, the Slovak Supreme Court ruled against an MP of the far-right political party Kotleba – People’s Party Our Slovakia. Due to the conviction, Mr Mazurek lost his seat and another candidate of the PPOS took his place. Depending on the factors considered, the case can be seen either as armament or as disarmament of democracy in Slovakia. Continue reading >>
15 Oktober 2019

Deep Rot in Slovakia

Unlike in Poland and Hungary, the government in Slovakia has not mounted a serious offence against the judiciary in the preceding decade. On the contrary, there is a persuasive argument that a high degree of judicial (and prosecutorial) independence has shielded individuals from being held accountable. Continue reading >>
30 April 2019

A Failed Attempt to Dissolve a Political Party in Slovakia

On 29 April 2019 the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic (SCSR) refused to dissolve the political party Kotleba – Ľudová strana Naše Slovensko (People’s Party Our Slovakia). A five-judge administrative senate essentially found insufficient evidence to ban the party and in a press release pointed the finger at the plaintiff, the General Prosecutor’s office, for mishaps in how the case was argued. Continue reading >>
08 Februar 2019

A Part of the Constitution Is Unconstitutional, the Slovak Constitutional Court has Ruled

The 30th of January 2019 will undoubtedly be remembered as a milestone day in the development of Slovak constitutional law, signaling the start of a new, second, stage of development. The first stage started on 1 September 1992 (the day of adoption of the Constitution of the Slovak Republic) and lasted until 30 January 2019. The second stage started with the Slovak Constitutional Court decision, of 30 January 2019, that an amendment to the Constitution is invalid for violating the material core of the Constitution. Continue reading >>
05 Februar 2019

The First Live-Broadcast Hearings of Candidates for Constitutional Judges in Slovakia: Five Lessons

In 2019, Slovakia selects nine out of thirteen constitutional court judges and the hearings of the candidates for the nominees for the vacant seats were publicly broadcast. The atmosphere of the hearings and the overall context of the 2019 appointment process, however, yield at least five, and not that optimistic, lessons. Continue reading >>
25 Oktober 2018

On the Brink of Joining Poland and Hungary: The Night of Surprises in the Slovak Parliament

The relatively short political history of the Slovak parliament has already witnessed several dramatic sessions. The latest drama unfolded during the night of 23 October in a parliamentary session to discuss and vote on an amendment of the Constitution and a new Act on the Constitutional Court that could have put Slovakia on a direct path to follow Hungary and Poland. The night turned out to be full of surprises. Continue reading >>
29 Januar 2018

Drama or Serenity? Upcoming Judicial Appointments at the Slovak Constitutional Court

2018 is shaping up to be one of the most important years in the history of the Slovak Constitutional Court (SCC). Nine of the currently sitting 13 judges will see their non-renewable terms expire in February 2019. The new appointments have the potential to be shrouded in drama, as they will take place against the background of a constitutional and political power struggle over SCC appointments between the President and the government, as well as broader judicial malaise in the country. Continue reading >>
07 September 2017

The EU as the Appropriate Locus of Power for Tackling Crises: Interpretation of Article 78(3) TFEU in the case Slovakia and Hungary v Council

The CJEU’s judgment in Slovakia and Hungary v Council of 6 September 2017 raises important instutional questions. As the Court implicitly recognises the EU as the appropriate forum for taking effective action to address the emergency situation created by a sudden inflow of third country nationals, it adopts its tendency towards purposive and effectiveness-oriented jurisprudence to asylum law. Continue reading >>
07 Februar 2017

“Unrichtiges Recht” in Slovakia? The Radbruch Formula and Positive Law from the Nineties

While the Slovak Parliament might not be the most obvious place to look for a (modest) rerun of the classic legal dilemma about unjust laws, constitutional enthusiasts might want to tune in for once, as the National Council (the official name of the assembly), was in recent weeks the site of a reinvigorated effort to invalidate amnesties granted in the late 1990s by the once aspiring authoritarian Vladimír Mečiar. The government has not yet reached a consensus but the impending vote holds more promise than the previous seven attempts. Continue reading >>
08 Oktober 2014

Hungarians outside Hungary – the twisted story of dual citizenship in Central and Eastern Europe

In 2010, Hungary amended its Citizenship Act to pave the way for a preferential naturalisation of Hungarians living abroad. This was met with great alarm among Hungary’s neighbours: As a consequence of the Trianon Peace Treaty in the aftermath of World War I, by which Hungary lost large swaths of its territory, a considerable part of the citizenship of Romania, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine and other states nowadays consists of ethnic Hungarians. Four years after, tensions between Hungary and its neighbours with respect to dual citizenship are still palpable, since the number of new Hungarian citizens increases continually and already exceeds half million. Continue reading >>
16 Oktober 2012

Keine Freizügigkeit für Staatsoberhäupter

László Sólyom ist ein Bürger der Europäischen Union und hat […] Continue reading >>
06 März 2012

EU-Recht setzt Ungarns Isolation Grenzen (aber sehr, sehr weite)

EU-Mitgliedsstaaten müssen sich nicht vertragen. Aber ihr Streit darf nicht […] Continue reading >>
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