Coalition mounts another attempt to replace parliamentary speaker

Ljubljana – Coalition deputy group leaders have collected 47 signatures from MPs to urge National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič to step down. SDS deputy group leader Danijel Krivec said on Wednesday that should Zorčič not decide to resign by the start of next week, they will formally file a second motion to dismiss him.

Apart from the coalition SDS, SMC and NSi MPs, MPs from the opposition SNS and DeSUS plus both minority MPs have signed the initiative.

The first attempt to dismiss Zorčič after he quit the coalition SMC group to go independent failed on 30 March as only 45 voted for the dismissal, one too few.

“A decision whether Zorčič resigns, as has been customary, is in his domain,” Krivec told the press after meeting Zorčič on Wednesday.

He said this had been dragging on for a long time. Should he fail to decide to resign, the coalition will file a motion to vote him out of office.

Asked whether the 47 signatures also counted as support for a candidacy of a new speaker, he said that by then there could be even more signatures.

Zorčič meanwhile told the press he would talk it over with some MPs before deciding whether to resign or stay on and let parliament try to dismiss him.

He said the SDS, SMC and NSi deputy group leaders hand-delivered him papers with MP signatures but there was no statement to show their purpose.

He said the coalition claimed the signatures proved they had enough votes for his dismissal, but added they were neither numbered nor grouped according to deputy factions. “I don’t even know who has contributed their signatures and who has not.”

Reacting to today’s development, opposition SD deputy group leader Matjaž Han said that if the coalition managed to collect the signatures with the help of the opposition, it should opt for a vote in parliament to see which opposition parties were in fact coalition parties.

Han and Left deputy group leader Matej T. Vatovec find it unusual that the initiative to dismiss Zorčič had been signed by the two minority MPs.

Han said that “it’s always been clear that minority MPs do not undermine, that they don’t tip the scales. Which can of course change.”

Felice Žiža, the MP for the Italian minority, meanwhile told the newspaper Delo he had contributed his signature now, but will not sign a motion to dismiss Zorčič.

Zorčič is one of three SMC MPs who left the SMC at the end of March over disagreements with the party leadership on the SMC’s role in the government coalition.

Alongside another defector from DeSUS, they formed a group of unaffiliated MPs, whom the coalition is preventing from taking part in the parliament’s working bodies.

This prompted the opposition LMŠ to decide to boycott the parliament’s work with the exception of major votes such as the forthcoming impeachment motion against Prime Minister Janez Janša, or other ouster votes.

Explaining the decision today, the LMŠ said the obstruction did not mean the LMŠ backed out, it meant pressure on the National Assembly to finally start honouring the constitution, its rules of procedure and parliamentary practice.

At yesterday’s session of the college of deputy group leaders, the proposal by the four-centre left parties to include the unaffiliated MPs into working bodies was voted down by the same factions who now contributed the 47 signatures for Zorčič’s dismissal.