National Assembly paves way for reshaping of govt

Ljubljana – The National Assembly passed changes to the government act on Wednesday, allowing Prime Minister Robert Golob to shape his government as he wants. The bill was one of the first filed by the new government but the opposition Democrats (SDS) wanted to call a referendum on the motion.

The referendum motion was voted down by the National Assembly yesterday, thus allowing a vote on the changes, which were passed with 53 votes in favour and 25 against to create three new ministries.

Borut Sajovic, the deputy group head of the Freedom Movement, the biggest parliamentary party, said that many ministries had been filled with people with political loyalties since Slovenia gained independence. “This has to end. The country needs fast, concrete, prudent and active decisions.”

While it is unclear whether all new ministers will have to undergo interviews in parliament, Golob is confident that the reshaped government will be operational in September.

The plan may however still be undermined by the Democrats (SDS), which has not yet decided whether to start collecting signatures for a referendum petition, a process in which the National Assembly would not be able to stop the referendum from happening if the SDS collected 2,500 signatures in the next seven days.

SDS MP Žan Mahnič said seven days were more than enough for the party to get the signatures it needs. “A party as big as ours can get these signatures in a day if need be.”

Commenting on rumours that activist Vili Kovačič might be the one to start collecting the signatures, Mahnič only said that Kovačič was an independent person and that the SDS was an independent party which will decide about the referendum based on appeals from concerned citizens.

The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) is not happy with the expansion of government either, but its deputy group leader Janez Cigler Kralj said the party also did not support obstruction of the formation of the new government.

Sajovic meanwhile said that a renewed referendum attempt would make it clear even to the most naive that this was nothing but intentional delaying and troublemaking.

Under the changes, the current Labour Minister Luka Mesec is set to take over the solidarity-based future portfolio, while state secretary at the Labour Ministry Simon Maljevac will take over as minister.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Sport will be divided, with Igor Papič taking over the higher education portfolio and Darjo Felda, a state secretary will take over the education ministry.

The ministry of climate and energy will be headed by Bojan Kumer, the current infrastructure minister, with his state secretary Alenka Bratušek taking over at the existing ministry.

Sport will be moved from the Education Ministry to the Economy Ministry, while several ministries will be renamed, among them the Foreign Ministry, which will become the Ministry of Foreign and EU Affairs.