Interirior Minister Virant Confident He Will Survive Ouster Motion


New Slovenia (NSi) deputy group leader Matej Tonin, who presented the motion filed by the NSi, the Democrats (SDS) and the People's Party (SLS) at the plenary, said that the opposition wanted to make coalition MPs aware of "Virant's stray ways".

The opposition is critical of Virant's plan to halve the number of municipalities in Slovenia and Tonin wondered whether the minister wanted to "abolish" those who work hard to reduce differences in development among regions.

Tonin also pointed out that Virant wanted to abolish municipalities that were created based on the will of the people expressed in referenda. Tonin believes the main reason for Virant's plan – to cut costs – does not hold up, as abolishing municipalities would cost a lot but bring only meagre savings.

Tonin moreover said the public administration continued to grow under Virant, although the minister said during the election campaign that he would halve the number of public sector employees.

The proponents of the dismissal motion moreover claim Virant discriminated against public servants who are not trade union members, pointing out that trade union members receive jubilee bonuses that are 20% higher than those of non-members.

Touching on the compensation scheme for the erased, Tonin said the bill drafted by Virant's ministry was unfair because it treated all of the erased, thousands of people who were deleted from Slovenia's permanent residence registry in 1992, the same way.

The opposition believes that those who waited to reinstate their status because they did not believe in Slovenia as an independent country should not be eligible to the same compensation as those who waited because they did not know how to get their status reinstated.

Virant rejected the reproaches, saying that the dismissal motion had no ground and was a waste of time and taxpayers' money. "Everything you criticise are actually achievements I am proud of."

He said that he thinks every decision through very carefully and that they are always in line with his values, which include the rule of law, justice, freedom, tolerance, respect, dialogue and rational administration.

He also underlined he made a great effort to promote independence of the police and listed several projects the ministry was working on.

The ministry for instance plans to prohibit people who have been found guilty of a crime from working in politics and is working on a proposal under which mayors could be dismissed midterm.

Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek also addressed the MPs, urging the opposition to leave the government to work in peace, saying they had filed the interpellation motion due to personal grudges stemming from when Virant's Citizen's List (DL) left the ruling coalition of SDS, SLS and NSi in early 2013.

During the debate, SLS president Franc Bogovič said the local government reform was planned in haste, without any serious analyses. He added that public approval of the plan was not reason enough to abolish municipalities.

Virant rejected the criticism, saying the local government reform strategy was still in the making and that it would only be possible to discuss it was adopted by the government.

Branko Grims of the SDS was critical of Virant's agreement with the trade unions under which the state will pay out a delayed pay hike with interest, which, however, was ordered by court. Grims said this was some sort of a loan at a rather high 8-9% interest rate.

Jožef Horvat of the NSi meanwhile criticised Virant for having accepted cheaper than normal air fares from flag carrier Adria Airways. Horvat said he believed Virant when he said he merely accepted the price offered but believes the minister should have said "no, I want to pay as much as an anonymous citizen".

The MPs are expected to break off the ousting motion debate before convening an extraordinary session on bank stress test results at 10 PM, which means that the vote is most likely to be taken tomorrow.

Virant is certain he will survive the vote, although despite media speculations that some MPs of the ruling Positive Slovenia (PS) might not endorse the minister responsible for the police following the house search at the home of Defence Minister Roman Jakič, a PS member.