SDS congress to endorse Janša as party leader on Saturday

Slovenske Konjice – The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) will set out its manifesto and endorse Prime Minister Janez Janša for another term as party leader as it meets for its 12th congress in Slovenske Konjice on Saturday with a pledge to build a Slovenia for all.

Janša, who has been at the helm of the party since 1993, is expected to be uncontested in his bid for another term with SDS deputy faction leader Danijel Krivec expecting the vote to be a mere formality.

“I believe the president is very convincing and has a suitable background so that no one doubts his abilities,” Krivec said about Janša, who he said had been put forward to continue in the job by almost all party chapters.

About 600 delegates expected at the congress will elect a new SDS leadership, which the party says “will continue to expand and solidify with determination the values of the Slovenian spring that the sovereign state of the Slovenian nation was born from”.

Krivec expects the party leader and other senior officials to offer an overview of the situation since the last congress and assess the challenges ahead. The PM is also expected to brief the delegates on the Covid-19 situation and economic recovery.

The congress is being held under the slogan Building Slovenia #forYou, which is also the theme of the main of the five resolutions dealing with all segments of society, including vulnerable groups, to be endorsed by delegates.

The party says the slogan reflects its intensive work in the government during the Covid-19 pandemic aimed at bringing about the country’s economic and social development and prosperity for all Slovenian citizens.

They say the main resolution enhances SDS values and principles, underlines the duties of responsible politics and boosts trust in the EU and its institutions, touching on broader European challenges as it calls for own environmental priorities and global activities to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the resolutions, themed For Defence of the Constitutional Foundations of the Slovenian State, has already raised controversy as it speaks of the risk of a rekindling of a “civil war” through an escalation of tensions blamed on extremists, leftists and the Left, an opposition party.

“In the difficult situation of the Covid crisis the extremists have demonstrated nothing is sacred to them, neither rules, laws nor or the homeland or even people’s health,” they say, describing a recent protest campaign in front of the parliament building as a “Nazi arson” of MP seats.

The resolution was condemned by several opposition parties, while Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, said “the prime minister and his party show the world turned upside down where those who are at the frontline in defence of democracy are pictured as perpetrators”.

Another resolution to be debated at the SDS congress deals with ways to tackle political rift in the country, while the other two are concerned with demographic challenges and digital transformation.

The congress is also expected to set out plans until the next regular general election in spring 2022, following Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of this year.

Janša formed his third coalition government in March 2020 after the previous PM Marjan Šarec stepped down, but has been facing protests and calls for a snap election ever since amid accusations of interference in media freedom and independent institutions.

Although one of his original coalition partners, the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS), has formally quit the coalition and another partner, the Modern Centre Party (SMC), has seen defections by three of its MPs, the government has survived attempts by the centre-left coalition to give it a vote of no confidence and impeach Janša.

Moreover, the SDS has remained unrivalled on top in opinion polls throughout.

DeSUS, whose MPs have mostly remained loyal to Janša, will convene a congress on Saturday as well to elect a new leadership. Krivic says it is hard to anticipate how the election will affect DeSUS’s cooperation with the government, but the SDS is confident the government will complete its term.