Erjavec says no-confidence vote is vote against authoritarian Slovenia

Photo: STA

Ljubljana – Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) leader Karl Erjavec, a candidate for prime minister-designate, believes MPs have an opportunity to vote for normal and democratic Slovenia when they cast their votes in a secret ballot on the opposition-sponsored motion of no-confidence in the Janez Janša government later in the day.

Addressing the National Assembly on Monday, Erjavec said his new government’s goal would be “to make Slovenia a normal state again”, while boosting trust in all three branches of power, in experts and scientific facts.

He stressed that filing a vote of no-confidence in the entire government had been rather rare in Slovenia’s parliamentary history.

But the left-leaning LMŠ, SD, Left, SAB and DeSUS did it because Slovenia has found itself in a decisive moment for its future – it is amidst a pandemic and the government’s attempts to impose authoritarian democracy, he said.

“Today you are not deciding on Karl Viktor Erjavec,” but between authoritarian Slovenia and normal and democratic Slovenia, he said in his address to MPs.

Erjavec believes the vote will be about whether the MPs allow the current government to continue weakening Slovenia’s democratic achievements from the past 30 years.

Eleven months into its term, it is clear that Janša’s government is not pursuing the goal of welfare of the country’s citizens, he said.

Erjavec believes its authoritarian politics does not aim at strengthening constitutionally-guaranteed values, independent institutions or freedom of the press.

He also criticised the government for its approach to the pandemic, saying the measures “are often not based on expertise but are politically-motivated calculations”.

By closing municipal borders, introducing “a police curfew” and closing schools the government has interfered in people’s freedoms, he stressed.

While experts stress these measures bring no positive results, they serve the government to pursue the goal of “establishing a second republic”.

The candidate for prime minister-designate announced his new government would focus on four pillars: health, solidarity, environment and development.

It would stabilise the healthcare system in terms of finance and organisation and abolish top-up health insurance.

Solidarity-wise, it would adopt a bill on long-term care and a new housing bill, while a bill on climate policy would be adopted to address environmental issues.

Development priorities would be increasing funding of R&D and culture and streamlining administrative procedures for business.

The new government would also overhaul Slovenia’s foreign policy’s strategic guidelines, announced Erjavec.

He also assured the MPs there was no politicking in his bid, “just a sincere wish to together stop that wrong politics”.

Erjavec told the press before the day-long extraordinary session he counted on at least 43 votes while 46 were needed to vote the government out of office.

He is nevertheless happy the motion has been filed and MPs will have an opportunity to vote on Slovenia’s future. A failure to oust the government would in his view mean the MPs have decided to continue current politics.

MPs from the five parties associated in the informal Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL) largely echoed Erjavec’s views, urging MPs from the ruling coalition to “pluck up courage” and support the no-confidence motion before Slovenia “wakes up in a second republic tailored to the SDS”.

LMŠ leader Marjan Šarec rejected the criticism that it was irresponsible to topple the government during the epidemic, arguing the government abused the crisis as an alibi for its own survival so it was urgent to replace it.

He does not agree with those claiming a failure of the no-confidence vote would be a defeat for its proponents. “Defeat is here, we’re watching it every day.”

Similarly, Social Democrat (SD) deputy group leader Matjaž Han said the motion had emerged out of responsibility for citizens, who had been paying high epidemic bills due to the government managing the epidemic and the state “via Twitter”

Luka Mesec of the Left stressed as problematic three aspects of Janša’s government: hate pouring into the society from the top, fuelling divisions and causing chaos; the rule of law being suspended; and nobody in the government taking responsibility for anything.

Maša Kociper, deputy group leader of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), recalled the period before February 2013, when Janša’s second government was ousted in a no-confidence vote.

Eight years later, Slovenia can witness the same patters of staffing, settling of accounts and enormous borrowing plus a threat of Orbanisation, she said.

The vote is expected to take place late in the evening and the government is expected to survive, although secret ballots can result in surprises.