Ljubljana – A proposal to reshuffle parliamentary working bodies to include four unaffiliated MPs who have recently defected was rejected on Tuesday after the first was voted down last week. Nevertheless, the centre-left opposition parties and the unaffiliated MPs intend to keep trying so that, they say, democracy is not undermined.
The college of deputy group leaders rejected the proposal to make the four newly unaffiliated MPs members of parliamentary working bodies last Wednesday.
These deputies are former opposition Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) MP Jurij Lep and former coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) MPs – Speaker Igor Zorčič, Janja Sluga and Branislav Rajić.
All MPs from all three coalition parties, the Democrats (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi) and the SMC, voted against their inclusion last week alongside the opposition National Party (SNS) and DeSUS and the Italian minority MP.
Today, the four centre-left parties failed to garner an absolute majority for their second reshuffle attempt as all of those who rejected it last week abstained, expect for Felice Žiža, the MP for the Italian minority, who was not present at the session of the college of deputy groups.
Having two proposals rejected, the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left, Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the unaffiliated MPs group announced today another attempt to push through the proposal.
They pointed to the practice that allowed unaffiliated MPs to take part in working bodies and to the disproportionate share of coalition and opposition MPs in the working bodies. They warned about what they see as efforts to undermine democracy and violations of the Constitution, parliamentary practice and rules of procedure.
Sluga, the head of the unaffiliated deputy group, said the proposal suggested the MPs would keep their positions in the working bodies so as to minimise inconvenience.
She believes “this coalition along with satellite parties does not intend to give up all of its dictatorship leverage”, warning the situation in Slovenia was getting similar to that in Belarus.
Matjaž Han, head of the SD deputy group, thinks President Borut Pahor should convene a meeting of leaders of parliamentary parties and deputy group heads to help reach agreement.
DeSUS MP Branko Simonovič said the party did not object to enabling the unaffiliated MPs to participate in the working bodies. However, DeSUS could not agree with Lep remaining a member of the Labour Committee, which is a key working body for the party.
After the session, the petitioners announced a new proposal that would base the reshuffle on the size of deputy groups. The four opposition parties and the unaffiliated MPs group argue that the SMC has been left with too many representatives in the bodies after the three members quit the party.
Speaker Zorčič noted the parliament’s rules of procedure set down that every deputy group had a specific number of positions in the working bodies.
He said today was a dark day for Slovenian parliamentary democracy, warning that Slovenia was heading towards a one-party system. He believes the situation will be hard to resolve.
The coalition failed to dismiss Zorčič as speaker in late March after he quit the SMC, but is expected to try again. Today Zorčič said he had not received any dismissal proposal since the unsuccessful attempt. “I’m willing to step down if the coalition is willing to follow suit and if the entire government resigns,” he said.