The Slovenia Times

Citizens' List Left Government Coalition


Janez Šušteršič is resigning as finance minister and Senko Pličanič as minister of justice and public administration. The resignations will be effective as of Monday when parliament is formally acquainted with them, Virant announced while the party's governing council was still in session.

Virant said the decision, which the party adopted unanimously, "was simple really". "Our perfectly justifiable demand was not met. The DL is not leaving the coalition on a whim, but because the prime minister gravely violated the coalition agreement," Virant said.

"The political crisis erupted the day that the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption presented its grave and damning findings. The DL's exit from the coalition is the first step in the resolution of the political crisis," Virant said.

As of Monday Virant will no longer serve as the speaker, while the two DL ministers will continue to perform caretaker duties until their replacements are appointed or until the prime minister has put some other minister in charge of their departments.

Šušteršič and Pličanič, who will tender their resignations on Thursday, said the decision to quit the government was not easy, citing their involvement in major government projects and expressing the belief that they had so far done a good job.

The pair voiced the hope the projects they were involved with would continue, but they also underscored that the government lacked the necessary majority in parliament to adopt important projects so their decision to step down was the only possible.

An outgoing minister cannot start new projects, but the ongoing matters, especially activities related to the bad bank, continue, Šušteršič said, adding that the person put in charge of the portfolio could go one with this project, which he said would be the only responsible thing to do.

Pličanič expects the government to continue negotiations with trade unions representing public sector employees, which held a general strike over a 5% cut in the wage bill today, so that "the current tension is tackled as soon as possible".

Commenting on Janša's announcement of an appeal against the anti-graft watchdog, Pličanič said it was important for the proceedings to be completed and that "doubts about the lawfulness of the work of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption are cleared as soon as possible".

Meanwhile, the priority for the party now is an early election, with Virant indicating an alternative coalition to be unlikely. He said party members entertained serious doubts about forming a coalition with the opposition Positive Slovenia (PS) until Zoran Janković remains the party's "frozen" president.

"We believe the report of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has changed the situation in Slovenia so much the citizens ought to be given the chance to make a new choice," Virant answered when asked about the likelihood of an early election or an interim government.

But Virant said the key question at the moment was whether Janša and Janković, who were both compromised by the anti-graft report, would still be acceptable to voters.

Virant believes the biggest problem for Slovenia at the moment is political instability and distrust of the rule of law and its institutions. "All politicians, especially party leaders, must be wise and solve these two problems as soon as possible."

Virant pledged his party would be constructive in opposition and would back good bills.

But he believes the only "sensible" and "statesman-like" move would be for the PM to ask parliament for a vote of confidence and thus "pave the way for an early election".

Asked about a no-confidence vote, Virant said his assumption was the people made sensible moves. "When the prime minister is seeing his coalition collapse, when everyone is telling him the emperor is naked, he cannot but seek a vote confidence. Everything else would mean he was holding the entire Slovenia hostage."

Virant has already urged party membership in a letter to get involved in the activities of their respective local committee, announcing the DL "are starting preparing for an early election tomorrow".

In the letter, Virant outlines the reasons for the governing council's decision to quit the coalition, arguing that by failing to resign, Janša gravely violated the coalition agreement, "which stipulates that the prime minister shall be a role model for the whole public sector through lawful and ethical practice".

Virant underscored his belief that the biggest coalition partner had abandoned the joint commitment that the coalition would aspire to the highest possible level of political dialogue, free from personal discrediting, intolerance and offensive statements.

Regretting that "an individual's private interests have prevailed over the interests of the country", Virant said the party believed its further cooperation in the government would legitimise an unacceptable degradation of standards of integrity of public office holders and preserve the very patters of behaviour that led the country into the grave economic, social and political crisis.

The letter to DL members includes the pledge that the party would continue to endeavour for further implementation of reforms, with its control over the executive aimed at seeking initiatives that are better than the government's "where we will use all constitutional and legal means at our disposal.

Meanwhile, reporters challenged Virant with speculation that Šušteršič and Pličanič could defect to Janša's Democrats (SDS), to which he replied: "Our ministers will not defect to the SDS. The ministers are DL members heart and soul."

Virant summed up by saying that the coalition was brought down by Janša, and the DL had been a loyal coalition partner throughout, even though there were many things they did not like, including bringing up of ideological issues and often too political staffing.


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