DeSUS leadership to discuss whether or not to leave coalition

Slovenija, Ljubljana, 18.01.2020 18. januar 2020 Kongres stranke Desus, Demokratièna stranka upokojencev, politika, Karel Erjavec , Aleksandra Pivec Foto:Borut Živuloviæ/BOBO

Ljubljana – The top bodies of the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) will meet on Thursday to discuss whether or not the party should leave the coalition, party leader Karl Erjavec said on Tuesday, noting that there was pressure from the rank-and-file, dissatisfied with the government’s work.

Erjavec made the statement after meeting the leaders of the four centre-left parties that make up the Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), which wants to unseat the government with a vote of no confidence that requires the proponents to muster an absolute majority in parliament and put forward a candidate for prime minister-designate.

While the parties initially coalesced around the economist Jože P. Damijan, Erjavec has been offered the job of prime minister as well. Erjavec said today he was indeed one of the candidates, subject to approval by the party’s decision-making bodies.

Listing the reasons why DeSUS should leave the coalition, Erjavec said the party membership was dissatisfied with ideological issues, attacks on the media, and Slovenia’s closer relations with Hungary and Poland. The government is also at a loss for solutions about the coronavirus epidemic.

However, DeSUS alone joining KUL will not be enough to form a new government coalition. In response to Erjavec’s announcement today, Zdravko Počivalšek, the head of the junior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), which has also been wooed by KUL, again rejected the possibility of leaving the coalition.

He said he wanted to finish what the coalition had started and reiterated the party’s position that a constructive vote of no confidence would be an irresponsible and destructive move at a time when the country is amidst an epidemic.

The opposition Left meanwhile welcomed Erjavec’s announcement, also expressing hope that a part of SMC MPs would leave the party in the wake of news that Počivalšek is being investigated by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption over personal protective equipment purchasing.

Meanwhile, Marjan Šarec, the head of the namesake opposition party LMŠ, said he would endorse Erjavec for prime minister.

Erjavec returned as party leader in early December after an eight-month hiatus and has since made several steps seen as an attempt at a break with the coalition, including by declaring he did not wish to be a minister in a Janez Janša government.

Last week Erjavec reportedly proposed to the DeSUS deputy group that the party should leave the coalition, but his effort was thwarted after four of the five DeSUS MPs rejected the move.

Indeed, deputy Robert Polnar, an outspoken critic of Erjavec, said four MPs were willing to quit the party and go independent unless “things calm down”.

Now, Erjavec said the party’s council would vote on a motion to exclude Polnar, which he said should mean he would also be ejected from the deputy group.

Erjavec says the motion came from the municipal unit of the party of which Polnar is a member, with allegations ranging from inappropriate statements to insulting the party.

Polnar decried Erjavec’s premiership ambitions as an experiment, likening the recent meeting with him to “a surrealist German film” in which the protagonist does not know whether or not he is in a dream.

In today’s response for the STA, the MP said this was not an important issue for him at the moment as he was preoccupied with the latest anti-coronavirus legislative package as the chair of the parliamentary Finance Committee.

“It seems to me that this is much more important for the country than me dealing with Karl Erjavec,” he said, adding that he had a seat in parliament in line with the constitution.

“I’m not bound by any instructions and I will not be bound by any instructions in the future,” Polnar concluded.