The Slovenia Times

First resignation in Šarec govt as development minister steps down


Šarec told Bandelli to resign over his efforts to use his government clout to influence a local election in his home town of Komen, a charge that Bandelli was unlikely to survive given the amount of media criticism he received.

The resignation came after a session of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), whose leader praised Bandelli's work, while adding he was also capable of accepting responsibility and was thus resigning.

While Šarec was also critical of Bandelli's performance as minister, the main issue seems to have been his communication style, as evidenced in public messages he wrote with regard to the Komen mayoral race.

Most notably, he explicitly said that Komen would not get support from him or from the Infrastructure Ministry, both major departments disbursing funds to local communities, unless the voters pick the SAB candidate.

Bratušek suggested that Šarec was using double standards in this respect and should apply the same criteria to all government officials, meaning "those he has defended and those he plans to defend in the future".

Speaking about the party's situation, she said the SAB did not enter the government to have three ministers but to work for the benefit of the people, especially youths and pensioners.

While giving up Bandelli, Bratušek took the opportunity to stress the party would insist on its demands for significantly higher pensions.

Stressing that the demands related to the healthcare system and the young were non-negotiable, Bratušek said the party would demand explanations at the next coalition meeting on how coalition agreement commitments regarding these groups would be honoured.

She also criticised the procedure for dismissing and replacing a cabinet minister, noting that Šarec was supposed to have first discussed the situation with her.

"If these are the communication channels that the coalition will be using, our time here will be preciously short," Bratušek said.

Bandelli was also accused by Šarec of failing to draw up an action plan to speed up the drawing of EU funds, a charge which he denies.

"I replaced the main director of the body that carries the main responsibility for EU funds phasing, we changed the operative model and started fixing the problems with the IT system that had dragged on for five years," Bandelli said.

He also took a jab at "people currently employed around Šarec", saying some of them were in fact to blame for the mistakes that were made in the past in the phasing of EU funds.

While this is the first shake-up of the Šarec government, it does not seem to have undermined the stability of the five-party coalition.

Political analyst Andraž Zorko said it was a shrewd move that did not weaken the SAB, whereas Šarec had shown decisiveness by insisting that Bandelli step down.

This is why Zorko believes that the coalition will stay together. "I strongly doubt Šarec has the nerve to carry on without her. Without the tacit approval of Bratušek, Bandelli would not have resigned," he said.

The move was also welcomed by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, which labelled the minister's acts and threats as unacceptable.

The anti-graft watchdog said that Bandelli had violated the code of ethics for government and ministry officials, stressing that "it was not a single act".

Bandelli has been elected an MP on the party's slate and is now expected to return to parliament. He also announced he would continue to work for the SAB, the party he helped establish.

While the two-month tenure makes Bandelli's one of the most short-lived ministerial careers, he is by no means an extreme case.

In 2013, Infrastructure Minister Igor Maher stepped down after just five days, with Education Minister Klavdija Markež lasting just as long in 2015.


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