Ljubljana – The opposition Democrats (SDS) have initiated a referendum on the act governing the composition of government in a bid to thwart the new government’s plans to expand the number of ministries.
The party submitted 2,500 voter signatures at the National Assembly on Wednesday, which, once the signatures are counted, triggers a 35-day period during which the party must collect the 40,000 signatures needed to call a referendum.
If the 35-day period falls in the holiday season between 15 July and 31 August, the collection of signatures cannot start before 1 September.
This means the new structure of government will be delayed by several months even if the referendum is not successful.
The SDS has been staunchly opposed to plans to increase the number of portfolios and has resorted to the referendum after it exhausted all parliamentary tools to prevent the passage of the act.
It has argued having so many ministries is wasteful for a country as small as Slovenia’s.
MP Branko Grims said today the reason the party lodged the referendum petition is because of the government’s “indescribable mess” concerning fuel pricing.
“And can you imagine that they want to expand this inoperative government so that it is even more inoperative,” he said.
He also said the referendum should be held alongside presidential or local elections, respectively scheduled for October and November, since it would not cost anything.
Given that a quorum is required for a referendum and several most referendums failed due to low turnout, this would improve the chances of the referendum succeeding.
Coalition parties have said the changes are needed so that the country can better tackle the challenges it faces due to the green and digital transition.
The parties said today that the referendum motion was merely a tool to delay the government formation procedure and prevent the government from making progress in priority areas such as elderly care, knowledge and development, all of which would be under separate ministries.
“Tactical moves and political games will not bring progress, but they will cost us valuable time,” Freedom Movement deputy group leader Borut Sajovic said.
“The SDS has not yet come to terms with losing the election,” added Matej T. Vatovec, deputy group leader for the Left.