Speaker’s LIDE party pulls out of election race

Ljubljana – The Liberal Democrats (LIDE), a party formed in January by Speaker Igor Zorčič, has decided against contesting the 24 April general election after failing to agree a joint ticket with the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS).

The decision comes a fortnight after LIDE and DeSUS announced they would contest the election together. DeSUS quit the ruling coalition more than a year ago but its MPs have continued so support the government and the party has seen a number of members leave.

The LIDE council has decided to skip the general election to focus on the presidential and local elections later this year having found the parties they had been in talks with preferred to bid independently, the STA was told by the party.

The party does not want to contest the election on its own because they do not want to fragment the political arena even further.

Zorčič today told reporters he would not stand for a seat in parliament, but would not answer directly when asked whether he would run in the presidential election in the autumn. He said: “Never say never”.

He did not think founding LIDE was a mistake. “It is a mistake that the other parties are unfit to forge alliances,” he said, pledging for the party to keep trying for liberal parties to tie up.

He said such an alliance was more than needed, as public opinion polls suggested a “scenario similar to that in 2018” with the left side of the political spectrum dominating but comprising too many parties, making it hard to build a stable coalition.

PM Janez Janša’s Democrats (SDS) won the 2018 election but it was four centre-left parties which formed a minority government headed by Marjan Šarec, who stepped down in early 2020 and then part of his coalition helped form the current government.

Zorčič said LIDE and DeSUS failed to reach consensus on who should be part of the coalition. LIDE has also been in talks with Liberal Democracy (LDS), the once powerful but since marginalised party, which DeSUS did not find acceptable.

After the talks with LIDE broke down, the DeSUS executive council decided today that the party will contest the general election independently.

While acknowledging that DeSUS was performing poorly in the most recent polls, leader Ljubo Jasnič said the party had always had low approval ratings but had nevertheless managed to clear the threshold to enter parliament.

Asked about departures by several high-profile members from his party, Zorčič said party ranks were left by those who had been hoping for a tie-up with the party of Robert Golob.

Zorčič had been in talks with Golob, whose Freedom Movement is ahead in opinion polls. However, the Freedom Movement suggested LIDE put forward candidates for their ticket which would then be hand-picked by Golob’s party, something that Zorčič described as an indecent proposal.