Leftists Talk Pressing Issues
Janković said that the parliamentary parties would, provided they find common ground, represent the positions of all left-leaning parties, not only those that have MPs. He added that further meetings would be held when necessary, or every three months, depending on agreement.
Janković said ahead of the meeting that no conclusions would be drawn today. He commented however on the government austerity package, saying it was aimed at "frightening of the citizens", while the proposal for a 15% reduction of the public sector wages was "frivolous".
The PS is the only parliamentary party taking part in the meeting, after the Social Democrats (SD) had declined the invitation to the meeting. The SocDems said in a latter obtained by the STA that the meeting's agenda "substantially exceeds the framework of a working meeting" that the party was willing to attend.
But Zares president Pavel Gantar stressed after the meeting that cooperation between the opposition PS and SD in parliament was more important that the question of the SD's attendance at the meeting. He warned over 100 days had passed since the last regular session of parliament at which MPs could address questions to the ministers.
"Just sitting together and discussing topics important to all citizens is enough to give some optimism for the future," said Liberal Democrats (LDS) president Iztok Podbregar. If such meetings enable the parliament to hear a wider circle of people, then this definitely is a "step forward for the country", he said.
President of the Sustainable Development Party (TRS) Matjaž Hanžek added that the participants exchanged views on austerity measures. There was agreement that cost-cutting alone was wrong and that something needed to be done on the revenue side, he explained.
Janković proposed the meeting in mid-March, inviting the SocDems as well as the non-parliamentary Liberal Democrats (LDS), Zares, Sustainable Development Party (TRS), Youth Party-Greens (SMS-Greens) and the Democratic Labour Party (DSD).
The meeting is seen by commentators as an attempt to unite the fragmented left bloc under the PS leader. But Janković rejected such a notion, saying "the thing is not that far yet".