Coalition put to test as opposition seek to oust Hojs


The motion, filed by four left-leaning opposition parties on 9 June, was prompted by the Interior Ministry's decision to overturn a ban on a concert in Maribor by the controversial Croatian nationalist singer Marko Perković Thompson.

The Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) argued the decision was motivated by politics rather than law and was tantamount to glorifying the Ustasha regime, hatred and violence in Slovenia.

The motion lists several other reasons why the parties believe Hojs should be dismissed, including swift replacements in key positions in the police force, which they believe are motivated by his desire to subjugate the vital services involved.

Moreover, the parties allege the minister mislead the public and lied in an attempt to secure police powers for the army through the invocation of a special article in the defence act.

Hojs flatly denied all the allegations against him, arguing the opposition was driven by the desire to smear him ideologically. As for the reversal of the Thompson concert ban he said he had nothing to do with what was an expert decision taken by civil servants.

Hojs tendered his resignation to PM Janez Janša in late June in the wake of police raids targeting a fellow minister as part of an investigation into procurement of medical equipment. However, Janša did not accept the resignation, asking Hojs to reconsider his decision.

"I've told him I'll stay on until the interpellation, what follows we'll discuss after the interpellation," Hojs said recently in a reference to the vote of no confidence, thus raising speculation about his potential replacement after the vote.

For the ouster motion to succeed, at least 46 of the 90 National Assembly deputies would have to vote in favour of the motion. The parties sponsoring the motion have 34 votes between them, with at least one DeSUS member expected to vote for Hojs's dismissal.

Announcing his intention to vote in favour of the motion, Robert Polnar offered the Thompson concert ban reversal as the reason as well as the fact that Hojs had already resigned irrevocably, so he should have been dismissed by Janša.

However, Polnar's vote is not expected to affect the relationships within coalition. After making his position known to Janša, Polnar said: "I believe he's responded very well, sharing my position that these are the differences we can live with."

It is not all clear how the remaining four DeSUS deputies will vote, but the new interim leader of the party, Tomaž Gantar, speaking after meetings with Janša and the deputy faction, said they would in principle abide by the rule that coalition MPs do not vote in favour of such motions against ministers.

Hojs met DeSUS deputies himself, laying out to them why he thought the ministry's decision on the Thompson concert was in compliance with a court judgement on the matter. "They understand that. They obviously oppose appearances of Ustasha celebrities in Slovenia, which I understand," Hojs said.

He agrees that it is a problem when a coalition party disagrees over the coalition's platform and commitments. "But with such an ideological interpretation as this one I don't see such a problem," he added.

The minister can count on the support of other coalition parties in principle although the deputy group of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) is to reach a final decision on Thursday. Nor will the motion against him be backed by the opposition National Party (SNS).

However, the vote will be an indication of just how strong the coalition is after Aleksandra Pivec resigned as DeSUS leader. Her interim replacement, Health Minister Gantar, says the party plans to continue the work in line with the coalition agreement.

Given Hojs's elusive statement about his future after the vote, the question whether Pivec will continue to serve as deputy PM as well as agriculture minister, and with a new post of demography office chief opening up, there is speculation about a potential government reshuffle.

The session at which vote on Hojs will be taken had initially been planned for 14 September, which would require for LMŠ deputies quarantined after a contact with a person infected with coronavirus to vote remotely. However, by Friday the quarantine will have expired so the session will be held as usual.