Šentjur – A total of 57 mayors gathered in Šentjur, east of Celje, on Monday in response to an initiative by Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič to form an alliance to make a mark in this year’s super election year in Slovenia.
All of the participants taking part in the maiden session of the Club of Independent Mayors expressed the desire for a closer tie-up but they are yet to decide just how to take part in each of the upcoming polls.
Assuming the role of coordinator until the next meeting, Hrastnik Mayor Marko Funkl said their ambition was to become the largest such group in Slovenia and a major factor in bringing together three existing associations of local communities.
The group will push for a joint, sustainable and balanced development of all of Slovenia’s 212 municipalities, regardless of their size or location.
They are determined to take each of this year’s elections, starting off with the general election in April, and followed by presidential and local polls in the autumn, with clear goals, from local to EU levels.
“Time will show how successful we are in forging an alliance and how seriously we put up a mirror to political parties that are being formed for their own particular interests,” said Funkl, a former campaigner for the rights of precarious workers.
Prebilič, a defence studies lecturer who has been praised for his efficiency as mayor, also during the Covid pandemic, said they were able to overcome ideological divisions with the decision made today to continue their cooperation, including in politics.
“Each mayor will decide which election to run in. Speaking for myself, I will definitely be actively involved in the coming elections and it’s not just the November mayoral elections that I have in mind,” said Prebilič.
“We passed a resolution today to draw up platform points that we would like for the next government to adopt and include in the coalition agreement,” he said.
Bothered by the way the country is being run and the lack of dialogue they will decide on their next steps in coming days with the alternatives mulled being either to form an independent party, seek for ways to cooperate with exiting forces or for candidates from the club to decide themselves where and how to run.
Whatever the decision in the end, they are committed to decentralisation, tackling local government financing and status of mayors and the idea that local government should be a partner in talks with the state.
They will also push to scrap the ban on mayors to serve as MPs.
Asked which election he eyed personally, Prebilič said it would depend on political reality. It would be easier for him to answer that question if he gets the club’s support for his political ambitions, but said fact was the mayors identified with the executive after serving for a while.
Prebilič had already indicated earlier the mayors were considering standing in the presidential election with their own candidate.
Meanwhile, Tržič Mayor Borut Sajovic announced the club decided to form the groundwork for a local government academy.
The meeting did not feature Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, who declined the invitation by telling reporters last week he was not planning involvement in politics at the national level.
Those who did attend but have already decided to stand for some other party, include two former members and MPs of the ruling Democratic Party (SDS), Destrnik Mayor Franc Pukšič and Cerklje na Gorenjskem Mayor Janez Čebulj.
This time they both plan to run for Connect Slovenia, an emerging alliance featuring parties including Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek’s Concretely and the party of former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler.
A total of 136 of Slovenia’s 212 mayors were elected as independents in the most recent elections.