The Slovenia Times

Pact with the Left raising eyebrows within and outside coalition


The agreement on project cooperation for 2019, which is to be signed before the National Assembly is to vote tomorrow on the supplementary budget, sets out priorities for the Left that the Marjan Šarec government has pledged to implement, such as tackling precarious forms of employment, or housing policy.

Speaking on the sidelines of the parliamentary plenary dedicated to the supplementary budget today, Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, said that the agreement had been two months in the making, to be agreed with all the government departments concerned. Mesec expects the accord to be signed on Wednesday.

However, some of the coalition partners have expressed their misgivings, in particular after an MP for the Left, Miha Kordiš, bragged on his Facebook profile that the party had "made out a big bill for our support for the 2019 budget".

Kordiš's post "is definitely a warning that should be taken seriously", commented Gregor Perič, an MP for the junior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC). Both him and Matjaž Han from the Social Democrats (SD) said they would want more information about the financial impact of the agreement.

"As a serious party we need to have a document as important as this partnership protocol adopted by our internal bodies," Han, the leader of the SD deputy faction said, in announcing that the party is yet to decide on whether to back the agreement with the Left or not.

Brane Golubović, the head of the deputy faction of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), said the partnership protocol was hard to evaluate financially, but was quick to add that each project would be subject to joint negotiations and agreement.

"We have a respectful relationship with each of the coalition partners, including the Left. We get into dialogue with each one of them, we're talking, trying to trust," Golubović said.

However, it was a lack of dialogue which was raised by Maša Kociper, the leader of the deputy faction of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB). She said that the talks on the partnership protocol involved mainly the Left and the LMŠ.

Kociper was also bothered by what she said were ever new conditions set by the Left. Illustrating, she said that after announcing that it would support the supplementary budget, the Left changed its mind and now wanted to sign the partnership agreement first.

"The SAB is not opposed to an agreement in principle, but we would like the commitments in the coalition agreement to be implemented first," said Kociper. The party's council is to discuss the agreement with the Left later today.

Han suggested that the Left should also take its part of responsibility in the partnership. "It's hard for me to accept that a party takes over at one government department, draws up proposals, but then some other party signs its name onto that," he said.

Mesec disagreed with the claim that his party was not taking any responsibility. "We're solving what the previous governments failed to do during several terms in office," he said, adding that it was hard for him to understand the SD's opposition considering the priorities in the agreement were in its interests.

The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) does not have any problem with the agreement with the Left, with the party's deputy group leader Franc Jurša noting that the accord was not much different from the one initialled last year.

However, quite fierce criticism of the role played by the Left came from the opposition with Marko Pogačnik from the Democratic Party (SDS) commenting that the Left remained a "supracoalition" party and the National Party's (SNS) leader Zmago Jelinčič calling the Left a covert coalition party.

Pogačnik said it was problematic that most of the platform goals of the Left were being included in the supplementary budget, a document that he said did not include a single of the reforms badly needed by Slovenia.

Ljudmila Novak from New Slovenia (NSi) commented that the Left obviously had a lot of power in the government despite claiming that it was not a coalition party. She expressed concern that the party's clout might show in the planned tax tweaks.

In the budget debate today, the SDS and the NSi announced that they would vote against the supplementary budget, which exceeds one billion euro for the first time since independence. They say the budget structure is not geared to the expected economic slowdown.

Jelinčič announced that his party would vote for the budget despite finding it too extravagant, just in order to see "what Europe will say", a reference to criticism voiced by the European Commission. He said that the Left "is marketing" its position very well.

"They owe nothing to anyone, they don't need to stick to any agreement, they make project coalitions that benefit them alone," Jeličič commented, adding that the government's future depended on the Left, which would cost the country dearly.


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