Janša says opposition wasting time and money with no-confidence vote

Photo: STA

Ljubljana – Prime Minister Janez Janša said in parliament on Monday as the debate started on a motion of no-confidence in the government that the initiators of the motion, a group of opposition parties known as the Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), were wasting taxpayers’ time and money.

He said the current government had done much more than the previous one despite the harsh epidemiological situation. “Slovenian citizens know it, they also feel it in their wallets,” he said.

The proposal on the table is not a constructive no-confidence motion, because it is not backed by 46 votes, the PM said, calling the motion a “destructive farce”.

He said perhaps 5% of the proposal could be called a programme, while the rest was criticism.

The opposition parties listing what they would do if they were in power sounds comical, he said, adding they had been in power before but had not delivered.

The current government preserved hundreds of thousands of jobs in the difficult conditions of the pandemic. It passed “significantly more measures” in the eight anti-corona legislative packages than “you did in a year and a half,” he said, referring to the Marjan Šarec government.

He said much more concrete changes had been made with the legislative packages to make people’s lives better that in the last ten years.

Commenting on the criticism that the government does not respect democracy, the PM said the index of democracy had been higher when he led the government than when the initiators of the no-confidence motion were in power.

The PM-designate candidate, Karl Erjavec, got the least votes of all party heads from the KUL coalition in the last general election although he ran in the election as a long-standing minister, he said.

Rejecting criticism that his government was inefficient in the battle with the Covid-19 pandemic, Janša said the share of the dead among the Covid-19 infected in Slovenia was lower than in some core EU countries despite the problems of the Slovenian heath care, which did not happen over night.

One of the reasons for many casualties is also the fact that Slovenia has the eighth oldest population in the world, and not enough care homes. Many of them have low standards, he said, adding that this had taken its toll.

“We should ask ourselves what have we done to improve the demographic situation in the last 30 years and what did we invest in in the last ten years, when the [now senior coalition Democrats] SDS was in the government for a year, the [now opposition Social Democrats] SD for nine years and Erjavec was minister for nine years.”

In that time, EUR 713 million was invested in hospitals, primary and secondary schools, training institutes, student dorms and faculties, while EUR 1 billion went for the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, he said.

“That was your policy for 10 years, that is why people were dying, that is why 10,000 people are waiting for beds at care homes,” he said.

He also said they had allocated more money to NGOs, which he labelled their parties’ para-military, than for care homes and student dorms combined.

In the last decade, EUR 367 million was allocated for child allowance, birth grants, big family allowances and child care, while EUR 706 million went for NGOs, he said.

Janša labelled the speeches by the initiators of the motion, Brane Golubović from the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and PM candidate Erjavec empty, containing no numbers, just phrases.

“It was something along the lines of: we will play ball, kick the ball and it will roll because it is round. That was the programme, nothing concrete. And a lot of talk about how this government is violating human rights, creating a second republic etc.”

He replied that the government was not creating a second republic but defending the first.

He also noted that because of today’s session the college of deputy group leaders could not meet, which would cause delays although members of the cabinet continued to work today. No minister is present at the session.

He said the opposition was undermining government work. “We will count ourselves again, ok, no problem,” he said.

Representatives of the coalition and the National Party (SNS) also rejected the accusations of the KUL parties that the government did not tackle the Covid-19 epidemic properly. They pointed to the many measures adopted by the government and warned that the initiators of the motion were using the epidemic in their political battle for power.

Gregor Perič from the Modern centre Party (SMC) said that a different government might focus on something else in their measures but could not avoid the most painful epidemic-related measures if the situation was to be brought under control.

He said the outcome of today’s vote “will not be soothing to anyone, but some will look for more and more reasons for altercation in it”. He said the SMC’s decision was known and that he wished it were clearly expressed in the ballots.

Jožef Horvat from New Slovenia (NSi) said the opposition had been threatening with the no confidence vote for four months while rejecting any kind of cooperation and boycotting the invitation for reconciliation talks from President Borut Pahor. “They’re only interested in power.”

For the first time in Slovenia’s history, the heads of key employers’ and employees’ associations, heads of medical and education institutions, university chancellors and mayors are looking for optimal solutions together with the government, he said.

SNS MP Dušan Šiško said the party would not back the motion and would not even pick up ballots to avoid any doubts. He said the SNS had supported the previous government just as it did this one because it primarily wanted stability in this country.