No vote on RTV Slovenija appointments

Ljubljana – The coalition walked out of the parliamentary session in protest on Thursday after Speaker Igor Zorčič refused to put to a vote appointments to the programming council and supervisory board of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija with the argument that the line-up was not in conformity with the law governing RTV Slovenija.

The National Assembly was supposed to vote on five members of the programming council and five members of the broadcaster’s supervisory board appointed at the proposal of parties.

The line-up, which had been confirmed by the Privileges and Credentials Commission, comprised names put forward by the coalition parties and two smaller parties, DeSUS and SNS, that tend to supply the missing votes to the minority government.

The opposition argued the selection was not in conformity with the act on RTV Slovenija, which stipulates that the selection must reflect to the maximum extent possible the composition of the parliament as a whole.

Zorčič, who comes from the group of unaffiliated MPs, expressed concern about this and said he could not allow the vote to proceed, invoking an opinion by the parliament’s in-house lawyers that the line-up was indeed not in conformity with the law.

He acknowledged the rules of procedure did not grant him powers to weigh in on decisions by working bodies, but said he would not have put the items on the agenda if he had the legal opinion before and so would not put the item to a vote.

The coalition accused him of arbitrariness and said he was treading down a dangerous path since there were no provisions in the parliamentary rules of procedure allowing the speaker to not schedule a vote once an item has been put on the agenda.

Danijel Krivec, deputy group leader for the ruling Democrats (SDS), also pointed out that his party had been in a similar position in 2014, when it was in the opposition and its candidate was not among the proposed line-up. It took the case to court and lost.

He said there was thus legal precedent and Zorčič could not just arbitrarily decide to play the role of judge. “You have put yourself in the position of judging substantive issues that are not in your purview. A court has decided on such a case before. All colleagues who are now complaining have the chance to go to court … but there is no way we can circumvent the rules of procedure.”

Because Zorčič nevertheless refused to schedule the vote, all coalition parties walked out.

Before that, the coalition proposed a postponement of a related vote on eight members of the programming council picked by the civil society, which was confirmed.

Those appointments would have required a 46-vote majority, which the coalition could not muster, reportedly due to the absence of two ill MPs, and the postponement led to accusations by the opposition that votes are casually pushed back whenever they do not have enough votes.