Education minister remains in office

Ljubljana – Simona Kustec remains the minister of education, science and sport after 42 MPs voted in favour of a motion of no confidence, four short of the required majority, and 39 coalition MPs voted against.

The centre-left opposition contributed the ouster votes, whereas MPs of the National Party (SNS) and all but one deputies of the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) group abstained.

Both the SNS and DeSUS MPs tend to support the government in major votes though they are formally not members of the coalition.

The vote capped more than 14 hours of debate during which the opposition alleged that the minister’s management of the portfolio has been disastrous, especially when it comes to dealing with Covid-19 at schools and providing instructions to schools.

The criticism targeted her messaging and absence from major debates, refusal to listen to stakeholders and epidemiologists, and failure to adequately prepare schools for the latest wave of Covid-19, resulting in chaos.

Kustec framed the motion of no confidence as an attempt to silence women in politics as she dismissed all accusations arguing that the measures that have been introduced are urgently needed and are being implemented all over the world.

Speaking to the press after the nightly vote, Kustec said she would continue to work on modernising the ministry, which has changed little in thirty years.

“We all have to roll up our sleeves. Knowledge is what our small society needs and what can make it competitive on a global scale,” she said.

Despite being criticised throughout the debate about poor dialogue with stakeholders in the educational system – she has often been criticised by head teachers and the teachers’ trade union SVIZ – she feels she has the support of head teachers.

Kustec also thinks there are no major systemic problems in education, but due to the epidemiological situation there are various challenges since social dynamics often reflect on relations in schools.

This was the second time Kustec faced a motion of no confidence. The first time, in March this year, 38 MPs voted in favour of her ouster and 41 were against.