DeSUS remains in coalition, will examine cooperation with SMC MPs

Ljubljana – The Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) remains in the government coalition but will examine the possibility of closer cooperation with the coalition Modern Centre Party’s (SMC) deputy group, DeSUS deputy group leader Franc Jurša said after Thursday’s meeting between MPs and new party leader Karl Erjavec.

Asked whether a compromise was reached for DeSUS to stay in the coalition, Jurša said: “Sure. We didn’t say we are leaving the coalition at this moment.”

Jurša said Erjavec had today apologised for the debate at Monday’s meeting with the DeSUS deputy group when he had proposed the party leave the government.

Media reports suggested his plan was opposed by the deputy group, which numbers five MPs.

Jurša said that today’s meeting as very constructive and that the party was very close to harmonising its positions.

Erjavec meanwhile left the National Assembly without speaking to the press.

He is being mentioned as a potential prime minister-designate for a government alternative to Janez Janša’s, to which both DeSUS and SMC MPs have been invited.

Asked when DeSUS would perhaps be deciding on continuing in the Janez Janša-led coalition, Jurša said the deputy group would first decide how it saw things, whereupon the party’s top bodies would take a decision.

Whether the deputy group follows the top bodies’ guidelines, depends on “what the guidelines will be like”, said Jurša, adding the group is for now united.

Today’s meeting did not discuss DeSUS’s potential cooperation with the four left-leaning opposition LMŠ, Left, SD and SAB parties.

The quartet have joined forces, upon the initiative of economist Jože P. Damijan, to oust the government, but are at least seven votes short of a majority to mount a vote of no-confidence.

Erjavec did however meet on Tuesday LMŠ leader Marjan Šarec as well as SMC leader Zdravko Počivalšek.

As for cooperation with the eight SMC MPs, Jurša said a task force was to be set up with the SMC to study the potential for cooperation.

DeSUS’s top bodies would then meet in the next ten days to approve their cooperation or not, he said, adding both parties would have to be in favour of our initiative.

Jurša did not discuss the goals of closer cooperation beyond saying it was about acting in a united manner in the current coalition, about open issues, bills and amendments.

A common deputy group is not being discussed for now, but could not be ruled out, he said. “Every integration, seeking common ground can be positive.”

The SMC welcomed DeSUS’s initiative for closer cooperation both within the current coalition and more broadly, in terms of the parties’ agendas.

Deputy group leader Janja Sluga told the STA they were looking forward to working together.

SMC leader Počivalšek added: “There is a lot of hate and division in the Slovenian political arena, which suffocates our national potential. This is the reason a strong centre is urgent for balance and integration. Cooperation is the first step on this path.”

The deputy group said in a written statement “it is important to shift the idea of cooperation to a higher gear in the coming days”.

The SMC’s executive committee decided a week ago the leadership should enhance talks on closer cooperation with like-minded centrist parties.