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Slovenia Has Become A Political Jungle

“If this is the case, then Slovenia is no longer a constitutional democracy. We have become a political jungle in which those who there are more of can rule lawlessly and therefore without limits – and even with the active assistance of the Constitutional Court,” warned Dr Matej Avbelj and Dr Peter Gregorčič in a press statement.

On the 14th of November, just one day before the 33rd session of the Constitutional Court, the “depoliticised” administration of the national media outlet Radio-Television Slovenia (RTVS) withdrew its petition for a constitutional review of Golob’s amendment to the Radio-Television Slovenia Act. This means that the Constitutional Court will not rule on the merits of the case, and the Slovenian public will consequently not receive confirmation that the amendment goes against the law.

In their press release, lawyer Matej Avbelj and former President of the RTV Programme Council Peter Gregorčič pointed out that they were disappointed to note that their expectations, as well as the expectations of the European Commission and the European Court of Human Rights, that the Constitutional Court would one day have to rule on the merits of the case, will not be fulfilled. They explained: “Apparently, the new, depoliticised management of this public institution has judged that it is better that the substantive constitutional review of the law never takes place. Such a substantive review risks the Constitutional Court finding that the current board, and thus the entire management of RTV Slovenia, was appointed in violation of the Constitution. By withdrawing the petition, the new management of the public institution has avoided this risk.”

They explained that, as the new RTV management has withdrawn the claim, the Constitutional Court will now have to dismiss the petition in question. The remaining claims against the applicants will suffer the same fate. They further explained that since the Constitutional Court has annulled the suspension of the contested law, which it itself had initially adopted, the petitioners’ legal position can no longer be improved. Consequently, in accordance with settled constitutional jurisprudence, their legal entitlement to bring proceedings before the Constitutional Court has also been extinguished.

The Constitutional Court simply got rid of an “inconvenient” matter

“In the manner described above, i.e. in close cooperation between the government, its coalition in parliament, the selected civil society which today runs the public institution RTV Slovenia, and the administration appointed by the government, the Constitutional Court, which has deprived the petitioners themselves of a legal interest and thus of any judicial protection, will be able to simply get rid of the case without ever having touched upon its merits with a single legal argument,” they explained.

Has the President of the Constitutional Court misled the public?

Avbelj and Gregorčič highlighted how the President of the Constitutional Court, Matej Accetto, claimed at a press conference on the 9th of June that “a case that has been in the house for half a year is not old in this respect; and even in two years’ time it will still not be one of the oldest.” Whether Accetto was aware that the case would never see an epilogue is difficult to prove, although all the indications point in that direction. But as the authors of the petition for a constitutional review of the controversial amendment pointed out, the systemic, institutional constitutional question, which is at the heart of the RTV case, will remain unanswered.

The question is: “Is it in accordance with the Slovenian Constitution and European constitutional law for the legislator, backed by the popular will expressed in a referendum and by the dominant civil society, to abuse the urgent legislative procedure without adducing any objectively verifiable, let alone convincing, legal arguments in the constitutionally permissible public interest, by the law itself, ex lege, immediately terminate the mandates of management, governance and control of the public service broadcaster, with the aim of depoliticising specific individuals and transferring democratic control of RTV Slovenia from the hands of the Parliament into the hands of corporatist organisations, for the selection of which the law does not specify any criteria? “

The Slovenian judiciary has clearly washed its hands of the matter. Moreover, an outside observer could easily conclude that the unconstitutional political usurpation of a public institution took place with the blessing of the judiciary.

Slovenia has become a political jungle

The authors of the press statement concluded in a tragic tone: “This fact means in a systemic sense that any government, provided it has sufficient political, social and economic power – and also its own people in the Constitutional Court – can subordinate all institutions, including those that must be granted at least relative autonomy under the Constitution, overnight and completely to its own political interests by the force of law. If this is the case, then Slovenia is no longer a constitutional democracy. We have become a political jungle in which those who there are more of can rule lawlessly and therefore without limits – and even with the active assistance of the Constitutional Court.”

Ž. K.

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