The Slovenia Times

Who needs the upper chamber?


Gregor Virant, the speaker of the National Assembly, announced on Thursday that his Virant List, Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) would file the proposal in coming weeks.

Virant, who spoke after meeting heads of deputy factions over constitutional changes, said that procedure for the change should be launched in May at the latest, as elections to the upper chamber need to be called by September.

Constitutional changes require a two-thirds majority in parliament to get passed. The proposal that would abolish the National Council currently does not enjoy such support.

The opposition Positive Slovenia (PS) advocate the chamber's transformation into a body representing local communities, but would be willing to hear out additional arguments in favour of abolishing the council.

The head of the PS deputy group Jani Möderndorfer said the party was currently not supporting the coalition's proposal, but Virant said that they "would let themselves be persuaded".

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) are against scrapping the upper chamber, but would change its composition to ensure a better representation of social interests, deputy group leader Janko Veber said.

The coalition People's Party (SLS) are against any fast move to scrap the council, but are ready to continue discussions. The party favours transforming the upper chamber into a body representing local interests.

SLS deputy group leader said that the party would discuss the proposal internally, while adding that it was not the SLS but Positive Slovenia which would be the kingmaker in this issue.

But Jože Tanko of the SDS said that if parties were committed to rationalisation and reducing the cost of the state, a majority should support the change.

The National Council currently represents social, economic, professional and local interests.

It comprises representatives of employers (4), employees (4), farmers and sole proprietors (4), non-economic activities (6) and 22 representatives of local interests.

Its president, Blaž Kavčič, said that by fully abolishing the upper chamber the level of democracy in Slovenia would be violently undermined.

Kavčič made a reference to political theoreticians who say that bicameral parliaments decrease the democratic deficit, arguing that the upper chamber had made a positive contribution to legislative process.

Arguing that the difference between two chambers was an asset, Kavčič said that while parties prevailed in legislative process, the National Council was a proper forum to give the civil society more say in line with recommendations by the United Nations.


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