No-confidence motion on parliament’s agenda

Ljubljana – The National Assembly will vote Monday on a motion of no confidence in the Janez Janša government. The opposition seems unlikely to muster the required majority, but the vote is expected show the relative strength of the opposition and coalition and end weeks of strife on the political stage.

The motion comes nearly two months after the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) left the coalition and its president Karl Erjavec became the candidate for prime minister by a group of opposition parties informally known as the Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL).

The opposition will argue the government is undermining the basis tenets of the Slovenian Constitution, including the division of power, freedom of the press, and respect of human rights and the rule of law.

The government, and in particular Janša, is investing a lot of effort in undermining the fundamental constitutional principles, weakening regulatory institutions and establishing a “second republic,” Erjavec argued last week.

For the motion to succeed, 46 of the 90 MPs would have to vote in favour. The five parties behind the motion have 43 votes combined and despite weeks of efforts to get the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) on board, it appears unlikely the motion will succeed.

The presidents of opposition parties have downplayed the actual outcome and billed the vote as a taking of sides when it comes to changing politics at the national level. Some commentators have framed it as a vote that will show who is on the right side of history.

Notwithstanding the outcome, the secret ballot looks set to finally settle the status of the DeSUS, which left the government after Erjavec returned as president, only for its MPs to rebel against the party leadership and vote with the government on major laws.

The DeSUS deputy group has indicated it would not ally with KUL but would play the role of “independent opposition”, raising the prospect that the deputies will forge closer ties with the government.

Janša has reached out to them by offering a special cooperation agreement to all opposition parties; all bar DeSUS have rejected the offer, and the SNS already signed such an agreement last year.

After the status of DeSUS is clarified, it will be clearer what kind of majority the coalition really has. Coalition party leaders have repeatedly said the government has a “comfortable majority”, but at present this only works out with the support of both minority MPs and the SNS.

In an indication that Janša is confident about his majority, he put forward a candidate for health minister on Friday, a post vacated when DeSUS left the coalition.

Janša has described the opposition’s action as a “destructive vote of no confidence” but said he understood that “those who have miscalculated must finish this process somehow. In the given situation, it is right that we do the count. But it is clear nothing will come out of this.”

The parliamentary session starts in the morning and the vote is likely to be held around 11pm.