Three candidates for Constitutional Court judges short-listed

The parliamentary committee for the Constitution on Tuesday proposed that parliament appoint two constitutional court judges from three short-listed applicants out of 11 who had applied – a constitutional law professor, Sanja Baric, Judge Ivana Calic and former state prosecutor Mladen Bajic.

Baric won the support of all committee members at the meeting which Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) members did not attend. Judge Calic gained the support of eight committee members while Bajic won the favour of seven votes for and two against. The other eight candidates who had applied did not obtain the necessary majority.

Labour Party MP Dragutin Lesar was angered by the fact that the committee’s chairman, Pedja Grbin of the ruling Social Democratic Party (SDP) did not adhere to a previous agreement whereby all eleven candidates would be scored and that all candidates who were given more than half the vote would be put on the list to be presented to parliament.

Lesar recalled that five new vacancies in the constitutional court were expected before the end of the year and that previous attempts to fill vacancies failed due to recurring politicking.

Grbin underscored that parliament is not appointing SDP judges or of any other political option but judges who should reinstate trust in the Constitutional Court.

An external member of the committee, constitutional law professor, Branko Smerdel, is convinced, however, that political parties should stop insisting on stories of political independence of constitutional judges and pay more attention to the quality of candidates to ensure proper procedure.

“In every country that has a constitutional court this is a political judiciary, only here we are constantly mystifying this. If you want a Constitutional Court, you have to refrain from the lie that judges without political orientation are selected. Where can people like that be found?” Smerdel wondered.

He explained that the selection process for constitutional judges should in fact show “who’s whose,” instead of allowing secret deals that result in the appointment of candidates who are not appropriate candidates for the Constitutional Court.