NSi holds election congress, Tonin unchallenged for party presidency

Ljubljana – New Slovenia (NSi) will start its election congress on Saturday with addresses by senior members and discussions on topical issues. Ballots will be sent to delegates on Monday and the results announced on Thursday, but the outcome of the main vote is a foregone conclusion, as NSi president Matej Tonin is without a rival candidate for the top post.

The junior coalition New Slovenia – Christian Democrats, which convenes a congress every year and elects its leadership every two years, is organising the event online, while votes will be cast by mail.

Along with the head of the party, the roughly 500 delegates will also be voting on six members of the executive board, and five members each of the supervisory board and of a tribunal. The party’s vice-presidents are not elected at the congress.

The online format will see the current presidency of the party assembled at one location while the delegates will be connected via video link and will be able to participate in the discussion.

Along with addresses and reports by the party’s bodies, three panels with guests will take place, dedicated to the economy, healthcare and the time after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The congress will resume next Thursday after the votes will be counted with a declaration of the results and an address by the president.

Tonin, who took over in early 2018 from long-serving head Ljudmila Novak after the now MEP stepped down, helped secure seven seats in the 90-member parliament for the party in the June 2018 election.

The NSi decided against joining the centre-left Marjan Šarec coalition after the election to then become part of the Democrats (SDS)-led centre-right government that followed Šarec’s resignation earlier this year.

While the traditionally close relationship between the NSi and SDS had become somewhat strained in the final stages of Novak’s NSi leadership, the two parties grew a little closer again under Tonin.

In Janez Janša’s government, the NSi leads the Defence Ministry, with Tonin serving as minister, as well the Infrastructure Ministry and the Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Ministry.

“The change of generations strengthened the party and connected us even more. We have stayed close to the people, we upgraded the economic programmes with an orientation towards a digital and green future. We are a party of dialogue that is capable of cooperation with parties both on the left and and right side of the political arena,” Tonin told the STA before the congress, underlining the NSi’s wish to assert itself as a centrist party.

While the 37-year-old party leader also announced a sustained push for “a better business environment, the abolition of nonsensical bureaucratic obstacles and for the proper valuing of work”, the congress is headlined For All People and is aiming to highlight human dignity as the highest value that served as the basis for human rights.