Message to President Pavel: Political Analysts Interpret the Rejection of Zemanová and Baxa’s Nomination

Jan Handrejch

The rejection of the nomination of Josef Baxa and Daniela Zemanová for Constitutional Court judges by the Senate’s Constitutional and Legal Committee on Wednesday is seen by political analysts as a message to President Petr Pavel. They believe that senators want Pavel to consult with them regarding his nominations. According to political analyst Jan Kubáček, it was primarily about sending a signal to the president rather than the controversial nature of the candidates.

Former chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court (NSS) Josef Baxa, former president of the Judicial Union Daniela Zemanová, and Jan Wintr are the first three candidates for Constitutional Court judges nominated by Pavel. The Senate will decide on the nominations in a week, following a discussion in the Senate’s Committee on Human Rights.

The Constitutional and Legal Committee on Wednesday only supported the candidacy of constitutional law professor Jan Wintr as a Constitutional Court judge.

According to political analyst Petr Just, some senators’ comments about the candidates had already suggested that they were offended because the president did not consult with them beforehand. “One could say they felt slighted,” Just said. “And perhaps they are taking advantage of President Pavel’s relative inexperience in domestic politics to strengthen their influence,” he added.

According to Kubáček, the Senate has told Pavel they want to be a “sparring partner” in the negotiation process. He stated, “The key message is: Mr. President, consider us, the Senate and specifically the Constitutional and Legal Committee, as important partners and engage in dialogue with us in advance, taking our views into account.”

Kubáček believes that Baxa still has a chance of having his nomination approved by the Senate. He noted, “I can imagine that the decision regarding candidate Baxa has not been made yet, as the difference was very close. With Zemanová, it seems that her mission will be difficult,” he added.

Only two of the ten present committee members voted for Zemanová on Wednesday, while four voted for Baxa. According to Kubáček, Baxa must present himself more intensively, in detail, and actively to the broader Senate. He commented, “There must have been a deeper problem with Zemanová that failed to convince. Two votes are very few when the candidate is not controversial.”