Janša warns against elections during EU presidency

Ljubljana – PM Janez Janša has warned against an early election that would be held during Slovenia’s EU presidency. This would mean being amid an election campaign dealing with itself when the country should be dealing with others’ problems, Janša said in an interview with public broadcaster TV Slovenija on Friday evening.

“I believe some are at their wits’ end because the privileges they were used to can no longer be taken for granted,” he said in reference to calls for an early election.

He thus appealed to all those who deem the country’s reputation important, arguing “some more common sense would do no harm at this moment”.

Janša warned that “if we waste the reputation by undermining ourselves amid the presidency, the consequences will be also paid by next governments”.

The first time Slovenia presided over the Council of the EU in 2008, “we resolved many problems of other EU members and also some common problems”.

Janša said the success of a presidency was not measured just by the number of visits but by the number of things in which the country made progress and how many of the priorities it realised.

The prime minister also noted the bulk of discussions within the Conference on the Future of Europe would fall on the six-month period of Slovenia’s presidency.

And as his ministers are handed dossiers for the presidency in Brussels on a weekly basis, the government has to deal with issues such as the standstill in parliament.

Janša said Speaker Igor Zorčič, an unaffiliated MP after defecting the coalition SMC, was among those who had voted against the plenary’s agenda earlier this week.

While in most parliamentary democracies the speaker “makes sure things run smoothly” here he “engages in party politics and makes the procedure more difficult”.

Janša does not find it disputable that the opposition’s goal is to topple the government, saying “this is no Slovenian curiosity and there is nothing wrong with that”.

But the problem is that “four unaffiliated MPs, who are not automatically entitled to anything under the parliament’s rules, and also have the speaker, want many other posts, and if they don’t get them, they say it’s dictatorship”.

Asked whether he thought Zorčič was not allowed to resign, Janša answered in the affirmative.

He believes what is going on in parliament is just part of the developments. “A great part is happening in the backstage where MPs are being swayed, threatened and obviously bought”.

As for his potential pegging a vote of confidence in the government to one of the bills to resolve the standstill, Janša said all options were open.

He also pointed a finger at trade unions after they recently left the Economic and Social Council (ESS) in protest at the government’s ignorance of social dialogue.

“Instead of welcoming the fact that jobs have been preserved during the coronavirus epidemic, they walked out of the ESS,” Janša said.

He believes this is a political battle rather than a fight for worker rights: “This is an extension of leftist politics.”

Janša stressed Slovenia had managed to keep the economy in good shape during the coronavirus epidemic, boasting upbeat indicators such as growth and employment.

A new normal is meanwhile coming as coronavirus restrictions are being gradually relaxed, he said, confident the country will manage to vaccinate a sufficient share of the adult population to effectively contain the epidemic by summer. He also hopes an effective medicine will be available at the start of next year.