DeSUS’s top body confirms party leaving coalition

Ljubljana – The council of the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) voted in favour of a proposal by the party’s executive committee that DeSUS leave the current coalition and back party leader Karl Erjavec as a candidate for prime minister-designate.

The decision on the fate of the government ministers who are members of DeSUS is on Prime Minister Janez Janša, Erjavec said.

Erjavec told the press he expected that the DeSUS deputy group would follow the decision that was backed by 37 out of the 47 DeSUS members who voted today. Support for Erjavec as a candidate for prime minister-designate was expressed by 40 members.

The DeSUS president said that the vote had been attended by DeSUS deputy group head Franc Jurša and MP Jurij Lep, both of whom backed the proposal to exit the coalition headed by the Democrats (SDS) of PM Janez Janša.

He added that MP Branko Simonovič had already announced he would support and respect the decisions of the party’s main bodies, and he expects the same from MP Ivan Hršak. Erjavec plans to meet the deputy group on Friday.

However, one of the five MPs, noted Erjavec critic Robert Polnar, is to be expelled from the party, in line with the proposal from the executive committee.

This is up to the local chapter where Polnar hails from (Šentjur), said Erjavec, who expects that Polnar will be expelled from DeSUS as early as on Friday or at the beginning of the next week. He would also be expelled from the DeSUS deputy group.

The government ministers who are members of DeSUS, Health Minister Tomaž Gantar and Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek, will not resign, it is up to the prime minister to decide when they will be dismissed.

Gantar has an important role at the moment and we do not want him to leave just like that and “leave the prime minister in uncertainty,” Erjavec said.

Janša responded on Twitter saying that the DeSUS ministers should decide whether or not they are in the coalition, pointing to a provision in the party’s bylaw which says that if the party leaves a coalition, the ministers must resign or lose their party membership.

“It is difficult to cooperate with someone who’s not even in compliance with their own bylaws… Confusion is the last thing we need in this utterly serious situation.”

Erjavec explained that DeSUS was exiting the coalition because of the critical situation in Slovenia, adding that the reason was not the epidemic or work of individual ministers, but the policies pursued by Janša.

“We don’t have any major remarks as far as the coalition agreement is concerned, but the problem is in procedures bypassing the coalition agreement, especially when it comes to ideological topics and interference in the media.”

Erjavec also mentioned the developments in the police and “huge pressure on all important social sub-systems”, adding that “we don’t want an ‘Orbanisation’ of Slovenia, and autocratic system.”

As for foreign policy, DeSUS wants Slovenia to “hop back onto the Franco-German train and we want to be in the group of core EU countries.” For this to happen, Slovenia needs a different government, he said.

Gantar said that the decision to leave the coalition was logical considering the developments in the political arena, adding that he would stay on as health minister until there was no other solution, as the situation healthcare was serious.

Asked to comment on Janša’s statement that he should dedicate himself to preparations for Covid-19 vaccination instead of taking down the government, he said his team had invested so much effort in recent months that such statements were “out of place.”

Erjavec is already in talks with the leaders of the four centre-left parties that make up the informal Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), which wants to unseat the government with a constructive vote of no confidence.

The vote requires the proponents to muster an absolute majority in parliament and put forward a candidate for prime minister-designate.