The Slovenia Times

New deputy group established by four former SMC, DeSUS MPs


Ljubljana - Four members of parliament, including Speaker Igor Zorčič, will form a new deputy group in parliament on Friday after three of them parted ways with the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) and one left the opposition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) deputy group. This is expected to lead to the appointment of a new parliamentary speaker.

Zorčič has been joined by Janja Sluga and Branislav Rajić in leaving the SMC, whereas Jurij Lep has left DeSUS, both moves being expected considering the latest developments at the National Assembly.

Zorčič indicated in a statement for the press that he would not step down as parliamentary speaker, noting that this was "up to the National Assembly to decide".

New SMC deputy group leader Gregor Perič meanwhile said a new speaker would most likely be sought as the SMC was now the smallest of the three coalition parties.

Zorčič said the split with the SMC was "necessary" because they no longer saw eye to eye with the party's leader on its role in the coalition.

According to Zorčič, the SMC is no longer led from the party headquarters but by a narrow circle around the leader, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.

The final straw came with the recent appointment of Greens party president Andrej Čuš as state secretary at the Economy Ministry, he said.

The new deputy group is led by Sluga. She said the move was a message to all SMC MPs that they could no longer support what was going on in the party.

The news comes a day after the three SMC deputies broke rank and voted in favour of the dismissal of Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti, despite the coalition agreement determining that coalition MPs must defend ministers in no-confidence votes.

Lep said some time ago he would no longer caucus with DeSUS, having been the sole remaining MP ally of DeSUS's former leader Karl Erjavec before he quit the party.

Počivalšek said today the departure of three SMC MPs might seem like a loss, but in the long run "it is more important for the SMC and Slovenia to row in the same direction".

The unofficial information obtained by the STA shows that signatures to dismiss Speaker Zorčič are already being collected, for which 46 votes are required.

SMC deputy group leader Perič told the press it was too early to discuss specific names.

However, New Slovenia (NSi) deputy group leader Jožef Horvat is rumoured to be a candidate, while the NSi was not available for comment.

Given that the SMC is now the smallest coalition party, Perič said this called for changes in the balance of power among them, but could not yet specify.

He said the coming days should show whether changes to the number of ministers would be made. The SMC has currently four ministers, while the NSi has three ministers and seven MPs.

The departure of the three SMC MPs leaves the three coalition parties with just 38 MPs in the 90-member legislature.

If recent votes are any indication, they can count on three votes from the opposition National Party (SNS), which has a cooperation agreement with the coalition, the remaining four DeSUS MPs, and both minority MPs.

However, in the last no-confidence motion, three DeSUS MPs and both minority MPs abstained.

This means votes that require a super majority have become uncertain, according to political analysts Rok Čakš and Aljaž Bitenc Pengov, who note, however, that this does not necessarily mean a snap election.

Čakš told the STA this would depend on the prime minister. "If he assesses that his parliamentary majority suffices to govern without constant major shake-ups ... he will carry on until the end.

"If he estimates that he cannot do that, he may trigger a snap election - perhaps even in a way that he does not elicit the vote himself," he said.

Pengov Bitenc notes that the government is more stable than it seems. There are quite a few MPs who will not win another term, which is why it is possible to form a coalition that lasts until the end of this government's term.

The departure of three MPs from the SMC and one from DeSUS was welcomed by three centre-left opposition parties.

LMŠ leader Marjan Šarec tweeted: "Congratulations and welcome to the right side of Slovenian history."

SD leader Tanja Fajon said support for the government had been falling rapidly, but noted the new deputy group would have to decide whether it would be part of the coalition or the opposition.

She added an early election would be the best solution, a view echoed by Left's Luka Mesec, who also hopes today's development signalled the beginning of an end of this government.


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