Standoff on redistribution of seats on working bodies continues

Photo: STA

Ljubljana – A proposal to reshuffle parliamentary working bodies to accommodate four unaffiliated MPs, including the speaker of parliament, who have recently defected was rejected for the third time on Tuesday.

Unaffiliated MPs, a group of defectors from the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS), were voted out of parliamentary working bodies in mid-April amidst criticism by the opposition that parliamentary democracy was being eroded.

They have since tried to push through a new distribution of seats, but their latest proposal, involving them getting twelve slots in committees and commissions, fell through at Tuesday’s session of the college of deputy group leaders, which decides on such matters.

While four centre-left opposition parties and the unaffiliated MPs voted in favour of such a distribution, all other deputy groups abstained, depriving the opposition of quorum.

The vote prompted the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) to announce they would boycott the parliament’s work with the exception of major votes such as the forthcoming impeachment motion.

The remaining opposition factions appear to be holding out for a proposal by the coalition. They argued a boycott would be counter-productive and pave the way for fast-tracking of legislation.

Danijel Krivec, the deputy group chair for the ruling Democrats (SDS), said the status quo would continue until the unaffiliated MPs and SMC reach a deal on the division of seats.

“We realise [the current distribution] is not mathematically sound, but substantively this is a matter of agreement. When the unaffiliated group and the SMC reach a deal, the maths can be considered.”

But he added that the fact the speaker of parliament hails from the ranks of the opposition was not “customary practice” in a parliamentary democracy either.

With the coalition no longer having a majority in parliament, the distribution of committee seats is crucial for passage of legislation.

Some commentators have speculated that the standoff could be resolved if Igor Zorčič, whom the coalition has failed to vote out of office, steps down as speaker.

Two weeks ago, Zorčič said he would only agree to step down “if the coalition is ready to follow suit and the entire government steps down”.

Unofficial information from well placed sources indicates the coalition has now mustered a sufficient majority to mount a new attempt to unseat Zorčič.

He will reportedly be given the chance to step down, if he does not, the coalition will request a vote.

Jožef Horvat, the deputy group leader for New Slovenia (NSi), is reportedly the candidate for new speaker.