The chairman of the Croatian parliamentary committee on the Constitution and the political system, Robert Podolnjak of the Bridge reformist party, on Friday said that the consultations on candidates for Constitutional Court judges would last until early March and after that advertisement for those positions should be published.
After four major parties in the parliament -- the HDZ, and Bridge on behalf of the majority and the SDP, and the HNS as the strongest Opposition parties -- started negotiations on this matter on Thursday, Podolnjak said he hoped they would find enough political will to agree on future Constitutional Court judges and thus avert the Court's blockade.
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.
Law professor Branko Smerdel has proposed a solution providing for the appointment approved by a qualified majority, that is by a majority of all members in the 151-seat legislature.
Podolnjak also has proposed the German model whereby the majority in the parliament and the Opposition would elect five judges each, with a possibility of veto on candidates the other side finds inappropriate.