The Constitutional Position of President of the Republic
Constitutional law theory has for many years systematically aspired to address and publish in the form of a monograph the results of scientific, research and professional efforts on the most important institutes and institutions in the field of constitutional law. Several books that comprehensively and thoroughly discuss the organisation, competence and functioning of legislative, executive and judicial authorities, as well as individual constitutional institutions within those authorities, have already been published by various publishing houses. For many years, however, a fundamental and comprehensive monograph about the President of the Republic, the topic which was otherwise addressed in several articles in professional journals, was needed. The Constitutional Law Institute, which operates within the Slovenian Constitutional Law Association, took the initiative to publish a scientific monograph about the President of the Republic. All its members who are as experts in the field of constitutional law researching the institution of the head of state and are publishing expert papers on this topic were invited to cooperate. Nineteen authors responded to the invitation, including two foreign experts in constitutional law.
The President of the Republic is the head of state and, together with the Government, a part of the executive branch. The scope of his or her executive powers, especially the independence of the head of state in the enforcement of these powers, is an important indicator of the model of organisation of powers. Executive powers of the head of state are more extensive in some parliamentary systems and less extensive in others, and might sometimes even be restricted to the extent (normatively or actually) that they can hardly be considered executive. In such systems, the head of state has no significant capacity to influence or affect the executive power. In modern conditions of a parliamentary system, the head of state should especially ensure the equality of legislative and executive powers, which is important for the realisation of the principle of separation of powers.
In our parliamentary system, the President of the Republic mainly holds representative and initiative function and has, compared to others, a weaker position. This applies to his or her relationship with both legislative and executive power, as well as the judiciary. The President of the Republic exercises most of his constitutional powers in relation to the National Assembly, and significantly less to the Government. Since he or she must primarily operate as a neutral and intermediate power, the President of the Republic may be excluded from the classical tripartite separation of powers. The President of the Republic is elected directly, meaning that his or her position in the organisation of state powers is objectively strengthened, even though his powers themselves do not require such manner of elections. Another peculiarity of his status lies in the fact that the Constitution does not require co-signing of his acts.
When examining the powers of the President of the Republic and the resulting relationships with other state authorities, it should be noted that a purely normative consideration is necessarily incomplete. When it comes to the institution of the President of the Republic as an individual authority, it is identified and determined by a specific person who carries out this function to a much greater extent than other authoritative institutions. The actual status of the President of the Republic therefore depends to a lesser extent on his or her legally defined powers, but rather on the content of his or her activities and the manner of their performance. This is especially prominent in Slovenia, where unlike in European parliamentary systems with a long tradition and the already established political and constitutional conventions and standards, this institution is just now being developed and asserted.
The scientific monograph entitled Constitutional Status of the President of the Republic includes twenty-six scientific papers, which are logically classified into five chapters. Contributions thoroughly address virtually all relevant issues related to the head of state from theoretical, historical, comparative, developmental, normative perspective, as well as its functioning in practice.
The first chapter, includes six articles on general and particularly on constitutional status of the President of the Republic and on his or her role in the system of organisation of state powers and in a political system. The subject is the status of the head of state in various systems of organisation of state powers, as well as his or her powers and functioning in a particular constitutional and political system. In addition to the President of the Republic of Slovenia, the Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany and the President of the Republic of Croatia are also considered from this perspective. A special attention is also paid to the institution of the head of the so-called new European democracies, which were established during the 1990s, as well as social and personal dimensions of the role of the President of the Republic.
The second chapter of the monograph discusses presidential elections. Authors of three scientific papers examine various systems of presidential elections, candidacy, the voting right and its protection, and the term of office. In addition to a comparative presentation of electoral systems (also for Eastern Europe countries), they contain an in-depth critical analysis of constitutional and statutory regulation and practice of elections for the President of the Republic of Slovenia, including proposals for a more appropriate normative regulation.
The third chapter presents some elements of the status of the President of the Republic, namely the incompatibility of functions, absence and substitution for the President, as well as his or her immunity. The focus is on the institution of Slovenian President of the Republic, but it is also addressed from a comparative perspective.
The fourth and most extensive chapter includes twelve articles on the functions and powers of the President of the Republic. In addition to broader discussions on the powers of the President of the Republic, proposals for suitable changes and comparison with the powers of the President of the Republic in other European parliamentary systems, his or her powers in relation to all state authorities are specifically addressed. Particular articles discuss the function of representing the republic and commanding armed forces, as well as the powers in relation to the legislative, executive and judiciary authorities. The papers are dealing with the calling of elections, convening and dissolution of the parliament, participation in parliament sessions, powers of promulgation, competencies in election procedures and appointment of the Prime Minister, of various state officials, judges of constitutional court, other judges and officials, powers in emergency situations and legal acts adopted by the President of the Republic when exercising these powers.
Accountability of the President of the Republic is addressed in two discussions in the fifth chapter. In the first article, the author focuses on the accountability of the head of state in a parliamentary system, including various aspects and mechanisms of accountability, while the second article focuses on the impeachment of the President of the Republic, also in terms of practical implementation.
The monograph includes contributions on the role, constitutional status, elections, powers and accountability of the President of the Republic from the theoretical, historical, developmental, comparative and positive-law perspective. Naturally, it was not possible to avoid the limitations of book length, so typical for such literary editions, and the readers wishing to further address these complex professional issues are kindly invited to consult the extensive (constitutional) legal literature of the publication's authors, as well as of other domestic and foreign legal experts. The selection of literature is therefore attached in the form of a separate list at the end of the book.
The scientific monograph Constitutional Status of the President of the Republic is dedicated to the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia.
I would like to thank Tadej Dubrovnik, Iztok Štefanec and Nejc Potočnik for their help in the preparation of the monograph.