The no-confidence motion against the entire government came to a halt early on Thursday, as the National Assembly dispersed after rejecting in a 48:19 the sole resolution put forward by the opposition Democrats (SDS)
The resolution called on the government to realise its commitment that its main mission is to restore people’s trust in the state and its fundamental pillars.
It also aimed to voice agreement with the assessment from the coalition agreement that Slovenia had become a society in which positive foundations of social cohesion were disintegrating and in which humanity is no longer a value.
The resolution was taken word-for-word from the preamble to the coalition agreement, signed in 2014. The wording originally referred to the assessment of the situation inherited by the current government; the SDS’s implication was that the situation remained the same.
It was rejected after being described by Prime Minister Miro Cerar in a TV interview as “indecent, provocative and senseless”.
The vote capped 16 hours of debate on what was a non-traditional motion. For a fully-fledged no-confidence motion, the SDS would have had to put forward a PM-designate and requested a proper ouster vote.
As it stood, the session served to highlight the government’s track record, with the opposition making sweeping accusations about government incompetence and the coalition brandishing what it claimed were significant achievements.
The gist of the SDS’s argument was that the coalition had only realised a tenth of its coalition agreement halfway into his term while dragging its feet on reform and failing to turn the country around.
“You should have done everything you have promised the Slovenian public…Time is everything when it comes to running the country,” SDS leader Janez Janša said, accusing it of taking credit for achievements that were not its own while buying “good PR for a bad job” with taxpayer euros.
He argued the public overwhelmingly thought the country was headed in the wrong direction, public debt is rising with interest payments eating up any gains made by the growing economy, and the government failing to bring those responsible for the bank system collapse to account.
Cerar, countering the claims that the government is not doing its job, said it had not only helped the economy recover but also contributed to the return of optimism.
When the government took office, “there was no stability, we were at risk of the troika, bad loans were mounting, management of state assets was bad, the deficit was wider, there were no serious reforms on the horizon, and social dialogue was interrupted”.
The overall result, he said, has been an improvement of public finances, reduced unemployment, rising ratings in competitiveness rankings, and “much better management of state assets”.
The opposition also picked apart the work of individual ministers, with MPs delving into the work of government departments.
The Defence Ministry was among those in the dock, with Janša warning that insufficient defence spending risked getting Slovenia kicked out of NATO now that the incoming US administration has warned allies to increase spending to the agreed level or risk losing collective defence rights.
Janša also accused the government of having circumvented the law by allowing the passage of half a million illegal migrants. Interior Minister Vesna Györkös Žnidar retorted that Slovenia had never pursued a policy of open doors to migrants.
Indeed, she said Slovenia would not allow humanitarian passage in the event of a new refugee wave, which is also the intention of the forthcoming amendments to the foreigners act.
SDS lawmaker Vinko Gorenak said the government had deliberately shelved the amendments, which are “or extraordinary importance to the country”, and urged Cerar to immediately secure its passage.
Other opposition parties largely echoed the SDS’s criticism, though they said in advance they were not necessarily in favour of the motion, and the United Left (ZL) flatly rejected it despite being highly critical of the government’s “anti-social” agenda.
In the end, the ZL as well as the New Slovenia (NSi) and unaffiliated MPs abstained.
The coalition dismissed much of the criticism, and the no-confidence motion as such, accusing the SDS of wasting MPs time.
Simona Kustec Lipicer, the head of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) deputy group, labelled the motion as “farcical”./IBNA
Source: The Slovenia Times