NSi offers itself as solution to end bi-partisan antagonism

Ljubljana – New Slovenia (NSi) met for a virtual congress on Saturday in preparation for next year’s general election where their leader Matej Tonin said this Christian democratic party should get the mandate to form a government in order to avoid the “inefficiency” of the centre-left and the “sharpness” of the senior partner in the current ruling coalition.

Addressing the online event, Tonin said the NSi had what it took to win the upcoming election, and the country’s future depended on their result. But Tonin, the incumbent defence minister and deputy PM, said the NSi would not be breaking up the government in the few months left ahead of the election, due in April 2022.

“We have competent people and a detailed programme. It’s time to let the Slovenian public know that we’re prepared to lead the next government,” said Tonin, adding: “Once the voters support the NSi strongly enough in the next election, we will avoid the inefficiency of the KUL coalition and the sharpness of the SDS.”

He was referring to the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), the senior coalition partner in the tree-party government coalition that also includes the NSi, and the informal coalition formed by the four centre-left opposition in the current parliament.

In preparation of the election, the congress adopted a programme for 2022-2026 which aims to boost the economy, and secure accessible public healthcare and even development of the whole country.

The party has also drawn up a government programme for the next term. “After the next election we will offer a coalition agreement to our partners to sign. Our key demand will be to create Slovenia as a land of opportunity and economic success,” said Tonin.

He pledged for the NSi to stand for dialogue, cooperation and tolerance in Slovenian politics. “We believe in cooperation. I’m aware that divided we lose and united we win,” said Tonin.

He listed record-high employment and the “excellently” performed Slovenian EU presidency among the party’s achievements proving they had a competent team, who he said were motivated to create a developed, green and relaxed Slovenia.

“The issues of the STA [financing] and delegated prosecutors have been solved. Accusations of political staffing are completely unfounded and malicious,” Tonin said, referring to allegations of political staffing in state-run energy companies.

“The many results at the ministries and good economic indicators are the best answer why we persist in this government. We persist because we can work and push the boundaries,” he said, pledging for their continuing to work for the benefit of Slovenia.

Tonin took aim at Marjan Šarec, the leader of the LMŠ party, which is also holding a congress today, over his announcement that a new government would have to reverse the anomalies of the incumbent one, accusing him of revanchism.

“Instead of revanchism, New Slovenia declares the prospect of dialogue, instead of exclusion cooperation and instead of cultural wars a vision of a developed, green and relaxed Slovenia,” he said.

The key goals of the party’s programme are that work should pay, that public healthcare should be accessible to all, the future should be green and Slovenia should be youth- and family-friendly.

Concrete proposals include gradually raising the general personal income tax relief to EUR 7,500 and introducing a threshold income below which social contributions would not be paid. They would let pensioners and job seekers earn EUR 350 tax free.

To attract highly-qualified staff they propose capping social contributions at EUR 4,600 and a five-year income break for highly-qualified staff moving to Slovenia.

They propose introducing competition in public healthcare by allowing everyone with a medical licence to chose where they will perform their practice. Quality and standards would be checked by an new independent agency, while public health institutions would be organised as non-profit companies.

To rejuvenate Slovenia, they propose a special bank guarantee scheme where debt would be written off for every child.

They advocate a responsible green transition that would not jeopardise Slovenia’s energy sovereignty and would keep power prices affordable, saying Slovenia can become a net electricity exporter by building a second nuclear reactor.

The party also proposes amending the foreigners act to introduce Slovenian language skills as a condition for a residence permit and to allow foreign labour force only where Slovenian staff is not available.

The party also advocates for the EU to become a strong global player and to decisively secure it external borders.

The congress was also addressed by other NSi officials, including MEP Ljudmila Novak, who believes the party to be the key to the much needed social and political balance in the country. She is confident the party will do well in the election.

However, in a veiled criticism, the former party leader also said the party should speak out more decisively when human rights, rule of law were violated, when democracy did not go in the right direction. “There the eyes are on the NSi, there we need to take a step further,” she said.

The congress was also greeted by Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament, and Donald Tusk the former president of the European Council.

The NSi today also presented nominees for its candidates in the general election, which do not include incumbent MPs Jožef Horvat and Mihael Prevc, who are considering retirement.