Ljubljana – Tanja Fajon obtained a full mandate from the presidency of her Social Democrats (SD) on Thursday to resume talks with the Freedom Movement and the Left to form a new government amid speculation about discontent among the rank-and-file members over the party’s election result.
Addressing reporters during a break in the meeting, Fajon said she was “aware we cannot be happy with the election result […] but we are happy that we have replaced the Janez Janša government.”
The SD won 6.69% of the vote in the 24 April election, which gives the party seven seats in the 90-strong National Assembly, down three from the previous election.
The party would now focus all its efforts on entering a “new, stable government” to meet the expectations of the people that elected them with “honest, fair and competent teams”.
Fajon confirmed the party had been promised four departments in the new centre-left government. She said she had the party’s full support to take over as minister of foreign and European affairs herself.
The party was also interested in the ministries of economy and justice with a fourth brief to be a subject of discussions as the future coalition leaders meet tomorrow when the distribution of portfolios between the parties is to be determined.
Fajon said the names of candidates for the posts had not yet been discussed in the party. Asked about a conflict between two potential candidates for the justice minister, Andreja Katič, who served at the post in 2018-20, and her state secretary at the time, jurist Dominika Švarc Pipan, Fajon said she saw no conflict herself and had no preference because she loved them both equally.
In the previous days Švarc Pipan had been accused of negotiating on her becoming justice minister on her own, which she denied, issuing a post on her Facebook profile in which she spoke of the allegations against her being a “stab-in-the-back” from her own party. She said it was not party leadership she had in mind.
Švarc Pipan today said she was surprised to find her Facebook post was “turned into the idea of a conflict over potential candidates for the justice department in the party”. She said she learnt about the supposed conflict from the media.
Asked about the support among the party’s MPs-elect for the party leadership, Fajon said the issue was not broached, noting the party was holding a congress in a few months. She is yet to consider whether she will bid for re-election as party leader.
The meeting comes after SD vice-president Jernej Pikalo stepped down over the poor election result with unofficial information available to the STA indicating that some party members thought the entire SD leadership should step down.
This is after SD vice-presidents Katič, Švarc Pipan and Matjaž Nemec failed to get elected as MPs as Fajon made it to parliament with what is the sixth poorest showing among all MPs in terms of the absolute number of votes.
According to TV Slovenija, the party rank and file believe that the SD would have attained even a worse result in the election had it not been for its solid local network, which is why they think local party officials should get more say in coalition talks.