For Šarec, a test of feasibility of minority government
The five centrist and leftist parties that plan to support Marjan Šarec for PM-designate will meet the Left on Monday to hash out the details of an agreement on project-specific cooperation in exchange for the Left's support of a Šarec government.
The meeting comes after the Left voted against joining a Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ)-led coalition as a full-fledged member but endorsed a project-by-project partnership pending approval by the party's rank-and-file at an internal referendum whose results are expected on Thursday or Friday.
Such cooperation would be based on a special protocol. The content has not been revealed yet, but the Left has reportedly proposed that every three months the parties agree specific projects on which to work together, with the Left in charge of at least one such project at any given time.
The most importance piece of annual legislation, the budget bills, would be harmonised four months before the National Assembly vote. The deal would also stipulate that the parties refrain from tabling no-confidence motions against members of the cabinet.
While such a deal would pave the way for a minority government led by Šarec, it remains unclear whether everything will run as smoothly. Some prospective partners in a "5+1 coalition" have indicated they are apprehensive about such a mode of cooperation.
Modern Centre Party (SMC) president Miro Cerar addressed a letter to his party's members earlier this week expressing doubts about whether such a government would be fully operational. The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) has voiced similar concerns.
While both parties plan to endorse Šarec for PM-designate, Alenka Bratušek has added the caveat that "the formation of government will start from scratch" once Šarec is named PM-designate, a claim some pundits believe casts doubt on whether Šarec can in fact have his cabinet endorsed in parliament.
In response, Šarec quipped on Twitter on Thursday that "SMC and SAB are interpreting the term minority government literally. I suggest 1+5. LMŠ alone in the coalition with strong outside support. A cooling is due in September, perhaps it would be useful." The tweet was accompanied by a thinking face emoji.
Just how feasible a minority government is will become clearer once the results of the internal Left's referendum are announced. The option will also be discussed this week by the governing bodies of the LMŠ. Social Democrats (SD), SMC and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).
A minority government would be a novelty in Slovenia, though such arrangements are fairly common elsewhere in Europe. In fact, about a third of EU member states currently have minority governments, and Portugal's in particular is being held up as a model for Slovenia.
If the formation of a minority government fails, Slovenia is likely to head for a snap election, an option advocated by election winner Janez Janša, whose Democrats (SDS) have been unable to form a government after being outright rejected by the majority of other parties due to their radical stance, in particular on migrations and human rights in general.
While a minority government or a snap election - the earliest a snap election could be held is in early autumn - remain the likeliest options, there have also been alternative proposals. One such idea has been floated by an anonymous group calling themselves "concerned businessmen" and they think a stable centre-right government.
Since Janša is anathema as prime minister, they proposed a few days ago that New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin pick the top job for a coalition that would feature the SDS, NSi, SMC and SAB, with Janša eventually sent off to Brussels as Slovenia's EU Commissioner.
Quizzed by the STA, the main associations of businessmen have denied being behind the motion, the SDS said a stable government would be possible only after all attempts at a weak government fail, SMC refused to comment, and SAB denied there being anything to the rumours.
NSi, meanwhile, said it saw such initiatives as "an unblocking of the current political situation, an attempt to avert a new snap election."