The Slovenia Times

Opposition party fuels speculation prodigy splitting off

Democrats' (SDS) leader Janez Janša and party member Anže Logar pictured at Lake Bled. Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

Slovenia's largest opposition party has distanced itself from its most popular member, former Foreign Minister Anže Logar, declaring there is no longer any doubt he is forming his own party. Some pundits say such a party could help the centre-right bloc win the next election.

Logar, 47, currently serves as an MP for the Democrats (SDS), the party of the former Prime Minister Janez Janša. Having cast aside the often divisive rhetoric of his party, Logar made it to the run-off in the 2022 presidential election where he picked up over 46% of the vote in what was the best result for a conservative candidate in twenty years.

Using that capital, he went on to form an association called the Cooperation Platform with a group of well-known public figures who have in the past been affiliated with both sides of the political spectrum.

While insisting that his association does not have the intention to grow into a party for now as widely believed, Logar never explicitly denied such ambition and he has been slowly distancing himself from the SDS. In late November, he stepped down as chair of the party council in a move that he said was prompted by SDS leader Janša.

Now, after a session of the party's executive committee on 5 December, the SDS issued a statement saying there was no longer any doubt Logar was forming his own party, so from now on his public appearances should be considered as views of an emerging party. It did not propose Logar's expulsion though.

The party said it expected MPs elected on the party's ballot to respect the will of voters and end their term as part of the party that the voters endorsed.

"The SDS has shown in the past that it is a broad and democratic party that allows deviations from a uniform vote, even in cases concerning constitutional changes, which has happened recently when Logar voted differently" from the rest of the party, the SDS said about a vote that allowed the start of a process leading to constitutional changes on the appointment of judges.

"If an MP of an existing party starts setting up a new party .... the least voters deserve is that they show their hand," the SDS said. To hide such a plan up until a few months before election causes intentional confusion, the party added.

Logar responded on social networks on 6 December by saying that he had not made any decision about political activity outside the SDS, adding that the party's step to distance itself from him was "exaggerated and disproportionate".

"At a time when irrational and damaging decisions by the government require dialogue and cooperation, division is not the right answer," Logar said, regretting the position of a party he has belonged to for over 23 years.

Many analysts believe that Logar will in fact form a party, but they disagree over whether such a move will have been coordinated with SDS leader Janša or not.

While polls show Logar's potential party would theoretically attract many SDS voters and compete with the SDS, it is widely believed it could actually help the SDS at the next election by providing it with a viable coalition partner because of its appeal to centrist voters.

Logar was reportedly urged by fellow SDS MPs on 5 December to come clean about his plans but told them he had not decided yet to form a party. If he does, it would take at least a year to form one, he reportedly told them.

Janša commented this on X: "If MP Anže Logar does not form a new party within a year and informs us 'in due time', as he said yesterday, then there is no problem. He will respect the will of the voters who elected him on the SDS ballot for the rest of his term, we will work together, there will be no fragmentation of forces and we will all be happy."

If this is not the case, Logar is misleading the public, Janša added.

Commenting of the row, the other opposition party, New Slovenia (NSi), said they could not get rid of the feeling it was all part of a deal. "It wouldn't be the first time," NSi deputy group leader Janez Cigler Kralj said.

However, he welcomed any attempt to renovate the centre-right. The NSi believes the centre-right bloc will have to be consolidated in time for the next general election to offer an alternative to the current government.

The ruling coalition parties were more reserved in their reactions with Luka Mesec of the Left saying it was a question for commentators whether the fallout was just a show for the public, and Borut Sajovic of Freedom Movement said nobody could hide their true colours.


More from Politics