Proposal to dismiss Zorčič filed, Horvat could be new speaker

Ljubljana – The three coalition deputy groups filed in parliament on Monday a proposal to dismiss Speaker of the National Assembly Igor Zorčič after he and another two Modern Centre Party (SMC) MPs left the SMC deputy group and the coalition on Friday over different views on the SMC’s role in the government coalition.

The proposal, signed by all 38 MPs from the SDS, NSi and SMC, says that the National Assembly should meet for an emergency session to dismiss Zorčič tomorrow.

Zorčič said on Friday that he would not resign, saying that this was “up to the National Assembly to decide”.

At least 46 votes are, however, needed to dismiss or appoint a parliamentary speaker in a secret ballot, which could prove a challenge given the current balance of power.

Nevertheless, New Slovenia (NSi) deputy group leader Jožef Horvat is expected to be nominated to replace Zorčič.

In an interview for TV Slovenija last evening, NSi leader Matej Tonin said that Horvat would be the new speaker.

Gregor Perič, the newly appointed head of the SMC deputy group, said today that Horvat had the support of all five SMC MPs. “He’s somebody who’s been in the National Assembly for a long time, knows procedure and enjoys respect. He could improve the level of debates, which is what the National Assembly and the political sphere really need at the moment.”

He admitted that secret ballots were unpredictable but also expressed belief that Horvat can be elected. “This will be a key litmus test, an indication of the functioning of the coalition in the future,” he said, but added that the votes in parliament showed last week that the coalition majority was not in jeopardy.

After becoming the smallest coalition party, the SMC will not be renegotiating the number of its cabinet ministers, said Perič. Following speculation that SMC head Zdravko Počivalšek may return to parliament to secure one more vote for the party, Perič said today the party continues to see him at the helm of the Economy Ministry.

The opposition Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) MP Branko Simonovič could not yet say how the group would vote, adding that they might not vote the same. He also denied reports by broadcaster RTV Slovenija about the party having reached a cooperation agreement with the coalition.

Meanwhile, the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the Left said they would vote against the swap of the speaker, saying that this will not be possible if the two minority MPs stick to the established practice of refraining from tipping the scales.

Mesec expressed hope that a “EUR 2.8 million contract signed by Počivalšek and the Hungarian national minority” will not have an effect in the secret ballot.

Today, economy minister was scheduled to sign three agreements with the head of the Hungarian self-governing community Ferenc Horvath as part of the 2021-2024 programme to stimulate the business of the Hungarian minority.