Bratislava, Slovakia – Former Slovak Prime Minister and current chairman of the ruling Smer party Robert Fico has dropped his bid to lead the country’s Constitutional Court.
Robert Fico, who was forced out of office last year and replaced by close ally Peter Pellegrini in the aftermath of the mass protests triggered by the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, withdrew his bid after the Most-Hid party, a junior partner of the governing coalition representing Slovakia’s ethnic Hungarian minority, announced it refused to back him.
After dropping his bid, Fico threatened Most-Hid of “serious consequences for the functioning of the cabinet” if its MP’s voted for candidates from the opposition, as Reuters reports.
The leader of the social-democratic Smer party, whom many believe is still pulling the strings of government affairs after being replaced by long-time ally Peter Pellegrini as Prime Minister, had announced his desire to run for a Constitutional Court position earlier this year. Although Fico highlighted his background as Slovakia’s legal council at the European Court of Human Rights in the 1990’s and law degree, many opposition MP’s quickly criticized the move as a blatant violation of the balance of power. Last year, Fico was already rumored to be interested in taking up the post of Foreign Minister to replace Miroslav Lajcak, who had threatened to resign over the government’s refusal to sign the U.N. migration pact – a threat he eventually failed to carry out.
The Constitutional Court rules whether legislation passed by Parliament and lower courts judgments are in line with the country’s constitution. It’s made up of 13 judges serving for a 12-year term.
More than 30 candidates have presented their bid to replace nine judges whose term expires this month. None of them, however, was able to secure a majority backing in Parliament, dominated by a narrow majority by the three-party ruling coalition, and who are tasked to choose two candidates for each vacant position. A new vote is scheduled to take place on Thursday.
After that, Slovak President Andrej Kiska, who often clashed with Fico in the past, chooses one among the pair and appoints the new constitutional judges. Kiska, whose mandate expires in less than two months, said he would not seek reelection in Slovakia’s March presidential elections, and Fico has been claiming that the final decision for the new Constitution Court judges should be made by his successor.