Freedom Movement, SocDems and Left sign coalition agreement

Ljubljana – The leaders of the Freedom Movement, Social Democrats and the Left signed the coalition agreement on Tuesday, exactly a month since the general election, with Prime Minister-designate Robert Golob commenting that the “speed that many envy us in forming the coalition proves the decision was simple because the people’s will was clear”.

Golob said the election outcome made the decision who to form the coalition with simple. “Had people’s will not been as clear, we couldn’t have agreed so fast on the directions, projects and values that we will pursue together in the future government.”

The signing comes just a day before the National Assembly will take a vote to confirm Golob as the prime minister. The three coalition parties have 53 seats in the 90-strong legislature with the Italian minority Felice Žiža announcing yesterday him and his Hungarian counterpart will also back Golob.

Golob’s Freedom Movement won 41 seats in the 24 April general election, the highest number ever won by a party since independence. The SocDems won seven seats and the Left five.

Golob said the coalition agreement also provided for the new way in which his government would be organised, but which they cannot implement yet because the opposition Democrats (SDS) have submitted a motion for a referendum on the relevant amendments to the government act.

The increase in the number of ministers to 19 plus one without portfolio, from 14 plus three without portfolio is but seemingly increasing the government’s complexity, he said.

The new ministries, responsible for solidarity-based future, climate and energy and higher education, science and innovation were aimed at creating new opportunities, projects and knowledge, which would set the new government apart from its predecessors.

Healthcare ranks prominently in the coalition agreement. There were many questions whether the coalition partners would reach a consensus on how to address key challenges with the Left advocating a clear division between public and private healthcare and the end of top-up insurance that is collected by private insurers, and the Freedom Movement arguing that private practitioners should be involved to reduce wait times.

However, Golob said it was measures in healthcare that they managed to agree on the most swiftly. The key priorities would be to set out an exit strategy for Covid-19 and an emergency bill that would reform healthcare. The bill is to be presented by Danijel Bešič Loredan, the candidate for health minister, at the hearing in parliament.

As other key priorities Golob identified coping with rising energy and food prices. In dealing with energy prices he said it would make sense taking measures aimed at all citizens, and in the case of food the measures would be selectively targeted.

Golob also listed public appearances and political culture as areas where the coalition wanted to introduce changes.

“I haven’t said anything about the outgoing government and I won’t because we’re not here to use anyone as an excuse, but to put into practice what we’ve promised to the people. This change of political culture, which should be respectful but also determined and directed into the future, is also my personal pledge,” he said.

Tanja Fajon, the SocDem leader, said theirs would be a government of change, something that voters had asked for. “Our joint goal is to ensure a strong economy, social security for all, an even regional development and Slovenia’s position at Europe’s core”.

Fajon, who will take over as the foreign minister, referred to the coalition’s plan to reposition Slovenia after the outgoing government sought alliances with countries such as Hungary and Poland.

Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, said today’s signing marked the end of a lost decade and a half, an era that saw Slovenia crawling from one crisis into another. “Bottom line is, the coalition agreement that we’ve signed is the line that separates us from the lost decade and a half and the hard work ahead of us,” he said, pledging for the government to work for the future of all, not just a few.

Golob said the coalition would examine their agreement every six months in order to see whether the circumstances had changed so much that adjustments were needed.

He said the coalition partners had already agreed on their common goal before the election, which was where they wanted to take Slovenia by 2030. “We know where we are and where we want to get, the path is known and we’ll then respond appropriately according to the circumstances.”

Golob will focus on staffing the prime minister’s office once he is endorsed as prime minister. He would like for the office to act horizontally, linking together the ministries that deal with the same topics.