Hungary's Parliament has elected in a secret ballot four Constitutional Court judges to fill vacant positions, and a new court chief.
The new members, supreme court judge Ildikó Marosi Hörcher, legal historian Attila Horváth, law faculty professor Balázs Schanda and deputy ombudsman Marcel Szabó have been elected for a term of 12 years.
Parliament also elected Tamás Sulyok, already a constitutional judge and deputy leader of the top court, to head the body. Out of parliament's 199 deputies, 138 participated in Tuesday's secret ballot, and supported the Constitutional Court candidates with an overwhelming majority.
The Socialist Party and Jobbik stayed away from the vote, both parties voicing objections to the nomination process. LMP supported the candidates. Co-leader Ákos Hadházy said the new members "could add to those who make their decisions independently of the government's position". With the new members, the top court has filled all 15 posts. The body operated with 11 members since spring this year and lacked a chief since April last year, when the mandate of Barnabás Lenkovics terminated.
The Jobbik party stayed away from the vote to endorse the candidates, saying that "it is not the candidates but the nomination procedure that Jobbik has issues with".
The Socialists did not take part in the hearing or the vote. The Socialists said the nomination process had been unlawful. The committee required nine members to endorse the candidates, but since the Socialist representative resigned prior to Friday's vote, the body had been one short of a quorum, Bertalan Tóth, the party's group chief, told a news conference.
The green LMP party, which does not have a seat on the justice committee, said on Monday that "there is no evidence to question the independence of the four candidates". LMP called its intention to vote with the governing parties for the candidates "damage control". The current top court has seven members whose independence is questionable, LMP said. The court so far had been reluctant to take on matters which would displease the government, it added.
The Democratic Coalition (DK), on the other hand, accused LMP of "collaborating" with the governing parties and the four candidates. DK questioned the independence of all the candidates, claiming they had ties with the ruling Fidesz party. DK will take part in the vote on Tuesday and reject the four candidates, the party's spokesman László Varju told a press conference on Monday.
The Dialogue party said Fidesz was trying to "fill the constitutional court with party soldiers" The party's spokesperson Timea Szabó told a press conference that her party's lawmakers who sit as independents would not take part in Tuesday's vote, which she called the "finishing touches to the butchery that has been carried out at the body for six years".
Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 November 2016 17:37