Slovenia: Political crisis in sight after DeSUS leaves ruling coalition

Slovenia: Political crisis in sight after DeSUS leaves ruling coalition

The council of the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) decided in favour of the party’s executive committee proposal for DeSUS to leave the current coalition and endorse its leader Karl Erjavec as prime minister-designate.

Erjavec told to the media that he expected the DeSUS deputy group in state Parliament to follow the decision backed by 37 out of the 47 DeSUS members who voted on Thursday evening. Support for Erjavec as a candidate for prime minister-designate was expressed by 40 members.

The DeSUS president said the vote had been attended by DeSUS deputy group head Franc Jurša and MP Jurij Lep, both of whom backed the proposal to exit the coalition led by the Democrats (SDS) of PM Janez Janša.

MP Branko Simonovič, Erjavec added, had already announced he would support and respect the decisions of the party’s main bodies, expecting the same from MP Ivan Hršak. Erjavec plans to meet the deputy group today.

However, one of the five MPs, Erjavec’s biggest critic Robert Polnar, is to be expelled from the party, in line with the proposal from the Executive committee.

This is up to the local party organization Polnar hails from (Šentjur), said Erjavec, who expects Polnar to be expelled from DeSUS as soon as today or at the beginning of next week. He will also be expelled from the DeSUS deputy group.

The government ministers who are members of DeSUS, namely Health Minister Tomaž Gantar and Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek, will not resign; the prime minister shall decide when they will be dismissed.

“Gantar has an important role at the moment and we do not want him to leave just like that and cause the prime minister uncertainty,” Erjavec said.

Janša clapped back on Twitter saying that the DeSUS ministers should decide whether or not they are in the coalition, pointing to a provision in the party’s bylaw which stipulates that, if the party leaves a coalition, the ministers must resign or lose their party membership.

“It is difficult to cooperate with someone who takes moves that are not even in compliance with their own bylaws… Confusion is the last thing we need in this utterly serious situation.”

Erjavec explained that DeSUS was exiting the coalition because of the critical situation in Slovenia, adding that the reason was not the epidemic or work of individual ministers, but rather the policies pursued by Janša.

“We don’t have any major remarks as far as the coalition agreement is concerned, but the problem is in procedures bypassing the coalition agreement, especially when it comes to ideological topics and interference in the media,” STA quotes his statement.

Erjavec also mentioned the developments in the police department and the “huge pressure on all important social sub-systems”, adding that “we don’t want an ‘Orbanisation’ of Slovenia and an autocratic system.”

In the field of foreign policy, DeSUS wants Slovenia to “hop back onto the Franco-German train and we want to be in the group of core EU countries.” For this to happen, Slovenia needs a different government, he said.

Gantar stressed that the decision to leave the coalition was logical considering the developments in the political arena, adding that he would stay on as health minister until there was no other solution, as the situation in the healthcare sector was serious.

Asked to comment on Janša’s statement that he should dedicate himself to preparations for Covid-19 vaccination instead of taking down the government, Gantar said his team had invested so much effort in recent months that such statements were simply “out of place.”

Erjavec is already in talks with the leaders of the four centre-left parties that make up the informal Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), which wants to unseat the government with a constructive vote of no confidence.

The vote requires the proponents to muster an absolute majority in parliament and put forward a candidate for prime minister-designate.

Media close to Janša commented on Friday that the DeSUS move is a “deep state stroke on the government”. Demokracija’s columnist Nina Žoher concluded that “the appetites of the deep state are great, as the time has come when over 10 billion euros of funds, which Janša negotiated in Brussels, will be distributed.”

“It is quite obvious that this is just about money and nothing else; namely, even a blind person can see that the team that fought to death at the beginning of the year will not be acting any more playfully now. After all, the differences between those eager for power are enormous, and resentment remains. This, however, cannot be good for the people, but only for a deep state hungry for money. Verily, they are aware that they can, among other things, feed their media with it and thus launch stories that are in their favour,” she concludes in the commentary. /ibna