The Slovenia Times

Labour minister ouster attempt defeated


Ljubljana - Janez Cigler Kralj remains labour minister as the opposition-sponsored motion of no confidence was defeated by 44 votes to 38 in the small hours of Friday. The National Assembly was thus eight votes short of voting him out of office.

The sponsors of the motion, the Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), voted in favour of the motion, whereas Cigler Kralj was backed by the entire coalition, both minority MPs and four MPs of the opposition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).

MP Jurij Lep, who recently announced he was to leave the DeSUS deputy group, abstained. The three MPs of the opposition National Party (SNS) were absent.

The outcome was expected due to the distribution of votes in parliament. A 17-hour debate, which started on Thursday and ended in the early hours of Friday, saw the sponsors criticise the minister's handling of the Covid-19 outbreak in care homes, arguing that he had failed to prepare the facilities for the second wave of infections.

Primož Siter of the Left warned against privatisation of care homes. "It is harmful to leave homes to the free market," he said, adding that private investors would come into the public sector, collect state funds, squeeze money out of users and generate profit.

SD MP Marko Koprivc was also critical, noting that as many as 58% of those who had died of Covid-19 had been care home residents. "It's obvious that something went wrong," he said. He said it was a crime to say that it did not make sense to transfer infected old people to hospitals because their life was about to end anyway.

The minister was also accused of failing to introduce in time regular coronavirus testing in care homes and produce regulations that would prevent people sick with Covid-19 from going to work.

The opposition moreover argued that he held inappropriate dialogue with social partners and pointed to what it sees as controversial funding of Zavod Iskreni, an NGO promoting family and Christian values, which Cigler Kralj co-founded and used to be a member of.

The coalition Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi) and Modern Centre Party (SMC) dismissed the allegations, saying that Cigler Kralj had done the best he could during the epidemic with the minister highlighting years of underfunding and understaffing in care homes.

Iva Dimic (NSi) said the NSi had been warning about the situation at care homes for a long time, calling for solutions. Slovenia has one of the oldest societies in Europe and the minister could not have solved all the problems that have been mounting for years in one year, she said.

SDS MP Jožef Lenart agreed, saying that the share of the elderly among the fatalities was big because of the high share of the elderly in the society. Many of them also had other underlying diseases, he added.

The coalition parties were also critical of the opposition filing motions of no confidence under challenging epidemiological circumstances.

After surviving the no-confidence vote, the minister said that he considered the outcome support for further realisation of the ministry's vision, priorities and measures.

What is key is strengthening elderly care, preparing a more just and pragmatic legislation governing family and social benefits, and efforts to maintain a responsive labour market after the epidemic, he noted.

He said that the motion served as an opportunity to discuss important issues, such as elderly care before and during the epidemic, adding that he and his team were striving to improve the elderly care situation.

According to the minister, the issue of different world views also came up in the debate as well as the coexistence of those who think differently. "Some of the findings were good and quite a few of the speakers stressed that we must coexist even if we don't agree on everything," he said.


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