LMŠ refashioning itself as development-oriented liberal party

Ljubljana – The party of the former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec (LMŠ) is meeting for a virtual congress on Saturday to endorse an election manifesto and a platform in which they refashion their profile as a development-oriented liberal party.

Under the slogan Normalisation. Solutions. Development, the platform promises to restore normality in Slovenia where democratic values will be respected, as Šarec says. They want to take the country “on the path of development, but not at the cost of human rights”.

The draft platform proposes 373 solutions to 78 challenges, summed up in 12 points, addressing areas as diverse as climate change, public finances, youth housing, and health and long-term care.

The party promises to establish long-term care as a new pillar of welfare state, and make public healthcare accessible to all, while scrapping the top-up health insurance.

Other goals include a stimulating, stable and international business environment and healthy public finances where they propose changing the fiscal rule and call for restoring social dialogue.

To cope with climate change, the party proposes renaming the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning to include climate change as the first component of the name and appointing a state secretary for climate change.

They also propose forming a new ministry for research, development and science with the minister to be made one of the deputy prime ministers.

Šarec says the next government would have to scrutinise the moves by the incumbent government. He believes it would be best to pass “an umbrella law to reverse all the anomalies” under Janez Janša’s third government.

The LMŠ struck a pre-election pact with the fellow centre-left Social Democrats (SD), Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) in September committing to form a ruling coalition together, so Šarec says they are aware their programme goals would need adjusting.

He adds that the informal coalition is open to all those who are “development- and liberal-minded and respect European values, human rights and individual’s rights”. However, he rules out cooperation with the parties of the incumbent ruling coalition.

Šarec led Slovenia’s first ever minority government before stepping down in early 2020 in a bid to push for a snap election, but his plan fell through and cleared the way for the Janša government.

However, Šarec says the party has benefited from moving into opposition because it has allowed it to consolidate.

A former comedian, Šarec entered politics at the national level in 2018 after winning two terms as Kamnik mayor as his party emerged as the second strongest faction after Janša’s Democrats (SDS) in its debut appearance in the general election.

The party has been polling at between roughly 6% and 8% in recent months. It won 12.66% in the 2018 election.