No parliament debate on opposition Left’s political programme

Ljubljana – Speaker Igor Zorčič will not call a plenary session to debate the opposition Left’s party programme after the coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) requested this last week, arguing the programme contained elements suggesting the Left could act against the country’s constitutional order.

Explaining on Friday the SDS’s decision to request the session, SDS MP Branko Grims said that “everyone and all, but most of all parliamentary parties, are bound by the constitution. In Slovenia we have a parliamentary party which publicly advocates limiting capitalism, introducing socialism and seizing property.”

In the request the initiators of the session problematise the Left’s statements about stopping privatisation and ensuring public ownership, the newspaper Delo reported last week.

They also highlight the Left’s “revolutionary” manifesto which some pro-government news portals published a month ago, but which the Left said was fake.

Speaker Zorčič asked the National Assembly’s legal service to provide an opinion to dispel any doubts which institution is in charge of deciding on constitutionality.

He told the press on Tuesday the request showed the petitioners would also like parliament to task the government to carry out oversight of parliamentary parties.

“Such a resolution would be in my view an unparalleled absurdity in a normal parliamentary democracy,” he said.

Zorčič will thus not call the session, arguing the legal service’s opinion shows that conditions for the session are not met.

The constitution, law and parliamentary rules of procedure prevent the National Assembly from evaluating party documents or actions from the aspect of the constitution or recommending to other institutions to act in any way in relation to that, reads Zorčič’s reply to the SDS and NSi.

The legal opinion also says the government’s oversight of a political party would be inadmissible interference in the constitutional right to assembly, while limiting or preventing the work of parliamentary opposition would be against the basics of parliamentary democracy, explained Zorčič.

The SDS said today it was surprised by such a decision with deputy group head Danijel Krivec saying that under the current practice, initiators were always invited to supplement or amend their requests based on the opinion of the legal service.

“We have the feeling that he wants to silence us and that they do not want a debate about this in the National Assembly,” he said, adding that he could not remember the parliamentary speaker stopping such an initiative ever before.

The Modern Centre Party (SMC) did not join the other two coalition parties’ request last week, with deputy group leader Gregor Perič arguing it could enhance “radicalisation”.

However, he said such a debate could prove beneficial in that it could be established whether some political programmes departed from what is set down in the constitution.

Standing firmly behind its programme, the Left said there were no problems in the programme whereas there were in society.

Matej T. Vatovec labelled the SDS’s proposal a serious threat to democracy, announcing the party would use all legal means to fight against it.

He also said on Friday the Left expected the National Assembly’s legal service to say that such debates were inadmissible in parliament.

The party said today that Zorčič’s decision had been expected, saying that it was the “SDS together with its satellite NSi who undermines with such acts the very foundations of parliamentary democracy.”

Vatovec said that the request was primarily an “attempt at raising smoke screens while the SDS is trampling on the state and subjugating institutions”.

Opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) deputy Brane Golubović labelled it an attempt at “diverting attention and opening up ideological topics”, and his party colleague Jerca Korče said it was up to the Constitutional Court to assess whether the acts by a political party were unconstitutional.

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) wrote it was an abuse of sorts of the National Assembly and an attempt to put an end to “moderate politics”, and its MP Matjaž Nemec added there was no legal basis for what the coalition party had requested.

The speaker’s decision was also welcomed by the opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), with MP Maša Kociper saying that such a session and evaluation whether a party’s programme was appropriate would violate the principle of separation of powers.

Political analyst Marko Balažic has told the Siol news portal that “this is an episode of a classical Slovenian culture war where one has to position itself left or right, while nobody is talking any content”.