The Slovenia Times

Opposition party calls government to account

Democrat (SDS) leader Janez Janša addresses the party's convention.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), the larger of the two opposition factions in the National Assembly, has moved an interpellation against the government over the merger of two museums, staffing and response to crisis in healthcare. The party opted for this type of procedure rather than a classic vote of no-confidence where it would have to offer a candidate for PM. Either way it has no chance of success.

Setting out its list of grievances against the Robert Golob centre-left government on 3 March, the conservative party said the government's "measures and announcements are leading towards the degradation of the nation, the family, private property and free enterprise".

SDS leader Janez Janša said the motion was an attempt to call to reason, to discuss "the contentious moves of this government that corrode at Slovenia's very foundations".

One of the reasons that prompted the motion was the government's decision to merge the Museum of Slovenian Independence with the Museum of Contemporary History, which effectively abolished the museum that was established under the previous, SDS-led government. The merger caused heated political debate in the country as did the inception of the Museum of Slovenian Independence in March 2021.

Slovenia's independence struggle is "one of the foundations of the country's constitutional order and the abolishment amounts to making a mockery of Slovenian history and an attack on the foundations of Slovenia's constitutionality", the SDS said.

The party also criticised the government for abolishing the Office for Demographic Affairs, which was also founded by the previous government. The party pointed to Slovenia's falling birth numbers, saying Slovenia was one of the countries with the oldest population in the world.

The SDS believes the reason for both the museum and the office being scrapped is "the manifesto of the most radical party in the government coalition". It said the manifesto of the Left, one of the ruling coalition parties, had been adopted by the entire government.

The party also accused the government of failing to act on the healthcare crisis, and carrying out "the most brutal staffing at all levels of the public sector in Slovenia's history".

The government's order to ministries to draw up lists of hires, transfers and promotions from the beginning of 2020 to the day the Golob government was sworn in, is an encroachment on human rights and will provide a basis for purges, the SDS said.

"Robert Golob's government is focused almost exclusively on staffing and is taking its revenge against those who think differently, while almost completely neglecting the actual troubles of the citizens."

The party says the resignation of Interior Minister Tatjana Bobnar revealed political pressure on the police force and opened the question whether these were triggered by an investigation into allegedly contentious Balkan deals of Golob and Gen-I, a power company he ran before becoming prime minister.

The SDS also accused the government of failing to act to prevent illegal migrations and of pursuing an inappropriate fiscal policy. "Raising taxes and lowering income does not bring development but it erodes the economic situation of the citizens, including the poor."

The motion was tabled by the party's 27 MPs, well over the 10 signatures needed. The other opposition party, New Slovenia (NSi) said it had not received the motion from the SDS to sign.

The NSi had wanted to bring an ouster motion against Culture Minister Asta Vrečko over the merger of the two museums earlier this year, but the SDS would not provide the missing signatures because it wanted the NSi to provide support for the interpellation, which the NSi refused to do without seeing the proposal first.

An interpellation can be moved by at least ten MPs to discuss the work of a minister or the entire government. If after such discussion a majority of all 90 MPs, meaning at least 46 supports a vote of no-confidence in the minister or the government, they are dismissed.

An alternative is a constructive vote of no-confidence in the government where the mover has to put forward a candidate for prime minister and the vote succeeds if a majority of all MPs elect the new prime minister.

In either case the motion is bound to fail as the ruling coalition has 53 MPs in the 90-srong legislature.

Janša said there were several reasons why they did not offer a candidate for a new prime minister. The government has not been in office even for a year and it would be "too kind" to have it shift its responsibility to the voters. He said it was not a motion aimed at replacing the government.

He said the party was still willing to contribute its signatures to the NSi's ouster motion against the culture minister, inviting the NSi to join the SDS interpellation.

This will be the fourth interpellation against a government in Slovenia's history. All have been tabled by the SDS, but none succeeded.

Coalition parties rejected the accusations, labelling the motion a destructive manoeuvre to obstruct and bully the government. "The government, the coalition and the Freedom Movement believe that this interpellation is completely unnecessary," Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan told the press at a joint press conference, adding that Janša had "crossed the limit of sanity.

Culture Minister Asta Vrečko, who spearheaded the museum merger efforts, said the independence museum had been established without a public debate and without possessing artefacts or suitable premises. "This project has become an ideological platform for the SDS to build its opposition to the government's work," she said.


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