robert podolnjak.jpg
Photograph: HINA / Lana SLIVAR DOMINIĆ / mm

As many as 46 valid applications for 10 vacant places for Constitutional Court judges have been sent to the Croatian parliamentary Committee on the Constitution.

The committee will start interviews with applicants on Monday and this will take a few days, the committee's chairman Robert Podolnjak of the Bridge party said on Thursday.

"The Committee will shortlist 10 candidates and there will be a public vote in Parliament," Podolnjak told the press a few days ago, recalling that appointment would require the two-thirds support, or 101 votes, of MPs.

A secret ballot was last held in July 2015 when Parliament was to choose two of three candidates for the posts of Constitutional Court judges, but none of the candidates received the required 101 votes.

The Croatian parliament has not managed to elect a single Constitutional Court judge since 2010 when the appointment of court judges by a two-third vote in parliament was introduced. In 2010, the term of one of those 13 judges expired, and one more judge left the court soon for the same reason. Late last year, the eight-year terms of another five judges, including President Jasna Omejec, expired. They may extend their mandate for six months given that none of their successors have been appointed by the parliament.

As a result of those developments, there are now 10 judges sitting in the court, and if the parliament fails to appoint their successors, this May the court will be scaled down to six members, which is insufficient to allow the court to make any decision.

This scenario of the Constitutional Court blockade has been recently pointed out by legal experts and Croatian academicians who have warned that the current legal solution for appointment of those judges by a two-third vote of lawmakers is infeasible.

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