Same-Sex Marriages And Adoptions To Become Reality In Slovenia

Just before the summer break Slovenian constitutional court released a landmark ruling on same-sex marriages and adoptions. Not to put too fine a point on it, the ruling wiped the floor with the obviously discriminatory definition of marriage as written in the Family Code. As of last Friday, same-sex couples can legally marry and adopt children, enjoying the same privileges and obligations as heterosexual couples.

Slovenian and LGBTQI+ flags, symbolising legialisation of same-sex marriages and adoptions in Slovenia.
Muddy Hollows is catching up on LGBT rights

Or, do they? Pengovsky will not give anything away by noting this was a landmark ruling. It settled things that needed settling a long time ago. Indeed, the very first attempt to legalise same-sex weddings was made way back in 2004. This was during the liberal government of Tone Rop, after a decade of workgoups, drafts and whathaveyou. Friday’s ruling aside, there is still no comprehensive legislative protection of these rights. So, what the fuck really happened?

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Of Egos And Justices

On Monday, the Constitutional Court ruled that the infamous 2017 changes to the Aliens Act, which effectively allowed the government to wholesale deny asylum under certain conditions (say, a mass migration wave, to give an example at random), were unconstitutional and struck them down in an 8-1 decision. Normally, this would be quite a bombshell on its own. And yet, somehow, it wasn’t.

Jaklič in a now-deleted tweet saying Janša is the greatest Slovenian in history (source)

Both readers will remember that the topic was so controversial back then that it drove a big fucking wedge between PM Miro Cerar and Speaker Milan Brglez, both SMC top dogs at the time and that Cerar eventually threw Brglez out of the party. Still, the latter must be feeling smug these past few days.

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Gold Rush

In a development that surprised a grand total of zero people, Marjan Šarec, mayor of Kamnik and erstwhile presidential candidate announced yesterday that he will take part in the parliamentary election. This comes on the heels of a host of new political parties announced or already formed and ready to enter the already-crowded arena. And with the vote six months out it is high time pengovsky takes a closer look at the lay of the land .


Slovenian ballot box (photo by yours truly)

Although reguraly decried by their more established and/or traditional cousins as attempts to con and defraud the good citizens of Muddy Hollows, new parties are by no means a purely Slovenian phenomenon. Case in point Czech Republic (or Czechia, as it now wants to be called in English) where a large majority of parliamentary parties have yet to celebrate their tenth birthday and one was established only two years ago. Or neighbouring Slovakia where two parliamentary parties were non-existent as little as three or four years ago. Or even France, where the right wing is currently billed as Les Republicains but used various acronyms throughout the decades as its (originally Gaullist) platform evolved. All this and we haven’t even mentioned Emmanuel Macron’s La Republique En Marche which was but a figment of imagination as little as eighteen months ago but has since opened a can of whoop-ass on the French political establishment.

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Janez Janša Walks Out Of Prison. But Is He In The Clear?

Janez Janša walked out of prison earlier today. This followed an injuction by the constitutional court which suspended execution of his two-year prison sentence pending final ruling in the Patria Affair. The court unanimously agreed that – in a nutshell – it’s Janša’s MP status which would have been impeded beyond repair should the final ruling be made in Janša’s favour. Should, however, the court in the end rule against Janša, the leader of the SDS will continue to serve the remainder of his sentence.

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Free Ivan (source)

Now, immediately after the injunction was announced, all hell broke loose and (as per usual) Slovenia was all of a sudden teeming with legal experts. Obviously, most of the interpretations were and still are wildly off the mark. Among the disappointed crowd, the story was being spinned as if Janša was released from prison because he is a politician.

Among the faithful, on the other hand, Janša out of was prison akin to quashing the prison sentence against Janša, confirmation of their belief that Janša is a “political prisoner” and prompting them to call for the heads of most of Slovene judiciary, starting with president of the Supreme Court Branko Masleša.

All of the above is painfully wrong.

Janša was released from prison (possibly only temporarily) not because he is a politician but because he is an MP. Now, whether we like it or not, the constitution states that every single MP is the representative of the entire people. While the MPs debated Janša’s ejection from the parliament, his posse kept on babbling about how the rights of his 6000+ voters are being hindered if he is barred from serving as MP while in prison.

The constitutional court, however, took it one step further, but not necessarily in the direction Janša and his crew wanted. Namely, it had stated that it was representation of the people of Slovenia that was at stake. Not just JJ’s 6000 voters. However, the said representation was only at stake if the man is innocent (i.e.: is found to have not been tried fairly).

Meaning that the court en passant confirmed the controversial decision of the parliament to deny MP status to a convict, but had not yet decided if Janša was convicted fairly.

This of course opens up a plethora of other constitutional and political loopholes which the parliament knew existed for years if not decades, but was unwilling to plug them.

So, what at first seems like good news for Janša, really may turn out to be not-so-good news. Because Janša is out only because he is a serving MP. It is this particular specific situation which makes his case different from that of his co-convicts, Ivan Črnkovič and Brigadier (Ret.) Tone Krkovič. The trio was convicted simultaneously, but only Janša gets to walk out. Because he is an MP and not because the constitutional court would imply the final outcome of the ruling.

In fact, in the text of the injuction (Slovene only) the judges make an extended effort to press this exact point: the injunction does in no way, shape or form preclude the final ruling in the matter.

And that is all there is to it. Representation of the people matters most. The court recognises a possibility, however remote, that a serving MP was convicted unjustly and set him free to execute his mandate until final decision. Should that decision be reached in favour of the plaintiff all hell will break loose, possibly forcing early elections. But if the judges find against Janša et al., the leader of the opposition simply continues in prison where he left off today.

    The Line Of Succession, Just A Heartbeat Away

    Gregor Virant officially resigned as President of the National Assembly (the parliament) yesterday and took his Citizens’ List (DL) across the aisle (in a manner of speaking) and joined the opposition. For the time being, at least, until a new coalition is formed, a part of which the DL will surely be. That or snap elections. Or both. Anyhoo. Fact of the matter is that the National Assembly is now sans sans president which opened a nice little constitutional problem. Namely, the line of succession.

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    Jakob Presečnik, the Veep. Sort of. (original images here and here)

    Technically, it goes like this: The President of the republic is the head of state. Should the president be incapacitated or otherwise unable to perform his or her duties, the president of the parliament takes over. This includes signing bills into laws, appointing ambassadors and commanding the armed forces. Now, until yesterday, pengovsky was convinced the line of succession was taken care of and that the president of the Constitutional Court was next in line.

    Well, guess what. He isn’t. In fact, it is not at all clear, who – if anyone – takes over presidential duties if both President of the Republic and President of the Parliament are absent. Now, Article 20 of parliamentary Rules and Procedures does stipulate that “if the President ceases to hold office, he is substituted for by the oldest Vice-President.“.

    In accordance with this, Jakob Presečnik of SLS was appointed Vice-President-in-Charge yesterday. But Article 106 of the constitution stipulates that only President of the National Assembly can take over for President of the Republic. Which seems to rule out Presečnik. He himself said as much yesterday on state television.

    OK, Slovenia is not the United States and the “presidency being just a heartbeat away” doesn’t have the same ring to it. But this is not the first time this has happened and one could argue that parliamentary Vice-President-in-Charge could extend his/her duties to stand in for President of the Republic as well. But this is far from certain. And lines of succession need a large degree of certainty. Therefore, you can be sure a legal conundrum will ensue if – Bob forbid – anything goes wrong at the presidential palace.

    Bottom line: we’re only an ear infection away from a constitutional chain-of-command crisis.

     

     

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