Talks with SMC on KUL agenda prior to vote of no-confidence in govt

Ljubljana – Karl Erjavec, who is slated for a candidate for prime minister-designate by the informal KUL coalition, said on Monday after meeting KUL representatives that “it is clear that we also need support by the SMC party if we want a new government”. Talks with the coalition party are thus in store.

The leader of the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) and representatives of the fellow centre-left opposition parties that form the Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL) agreed today to invite the junior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) for talks on how the party sees Slovenia’s future.

“We understand that the SMC is a party that does not share the values of the current government when it comes to the rule of law and violations of constitutional principles; the SMC is a liberal party and this week I expect it will be willing to discuss options to stop this de-normalisation of the country,” Erjavec said.

For the KUL coalition to be successful it needs “a few more votes and some more support”, Erjavec said, adding he was convinced the support could be drummed up. “When it is, we will file a constructive vote of no-confidence.”

The DeSUS leader announced last week that a motion of a constructive vote of no-confidence in the government would be filed by the end of the year.

“Given that this is not an adventure – we actually wish to form a government that would respect constitutional principles and media freedom and would return Slovenia to where it belongs regarding the country’s international legal position, the KUL agreed today to invite SMC representatives for talks on how they see the future of Slovenia.”

If the potential new government gets and retains support, it would like to finish and wrap up the term [until the next regular election], he said.

“I think this is important for all MPs, but it is also important for Slovenia. After all, there is the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic and we want to win it,” Erjavec said, noting that if experts were key in the fight, the epidemiological figures would be better.

“Another matter that is of extreme importance is Slovenia’s EU presidency,” he pointed out, adding that when it came to other issues, they were a matter of agreement.

A coalition agreement is but prepared, however one chapter remains open for the SMC to state what it would like to see done until the end of the term, he said.

Erjavec also dismissed claims that the potential formation of a new government depended on the outcome of inquiries launched against SMC leader and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who is being investigated due to allegations of wrongdoing in PPE procurement.

Asked whether the KUL plans to file a motion of no-confidence even if sufficient support is not secured, Erjavec said that they expected to have enough votes.

So far, we are still a few short, he said, stressing that if “the SMC decision is such as to contribute to the normalisation of Slovenia, then I am not afraid for these votes”.

The invitation for talks was sent to the SMC deputy group ten days ago, Erjavec said.

“As soon as it is clear what the SMC’s decision is, we will make a decision,” he said, adding that “it would be a shame if this opportunity to make Slovenia normal again is lost”.

If talks with the SMC are fruitful, the motion of no-confidence will be filed immediately. Otherwise, the KUL will decide on the future course of action, he said. So far, the SMC has not responded to Erjavec’s statement.

Erjavec believes that the four DeSUS MPs will comply with the party’s decisions. MP Robert Polnar, who is no longer a DeSUS member, will do whatever he thinks is best, the DeSUS head added.

The four MPs have been tightlipped since the party left the government coalition on 17 December.

Erjavec said that the DeSUS grassroots had been reshaped since some supporters of the party’s previous head Aleksandra Pivec had left, highlighting that the rank and file was relieved and pleased “that the party is no longer part of this government”.

Regarding alleged pressure on individual MPs, Erjavec said this had been common in politics recently. “I’m receiving various threats every day as well, but one must get used to this. If the kitchen is too hot, one does not enter it and the same goes for politics,” he illustrated.

Asked about a drop in support in opinion polls, he told the press the polls were of no importance to him.

Commenting on the invitation, SMC vice-president Igor Zorčič said that before deciding to enter the talks, the SMC expects DeSUS, the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) in particular to get engaged in talks and get integrated.

When the three parties prove to be able to overcome “the narcissism of small differences” which led to the collapse of the former government, doubts that the KUL could collapse for the same reason as the former government would be dispelled, parliamentary Speaker Zorčič told the STA.

He also recalled the SMC had given an initiative for closer cooperation with DeSUS, which DeSUS first welcomed but then suspended the talks and left the Janša government. “Now its priority is apparently premiership,” said Zorčič.

SMC leader Počivalšek said back on 18 December that the SMC deputy group was united in its position not to back Erjavec as prime minister-designate.

The SAB’s executive committee supported Erjavec as prime minister-designate today. This means the DeSUS leader’s bid has the support of the SAB and LMŠ, while the third KUL party – the Social Democrats (SD) – will vote on it tomorrow.