Politics

22 Jul 2019, 11:16 AM

STA, 20 July 2019 - Democrats (SDS) head Janez Janša hailed the opposition party's election results in the past year and criticised the current government as he addressed the starting gathering of the SDS's traditional two-week summer camp near Bovec.

The largest get-together for the party's rank-and-file, held at Bovec airport, heard Janša celebrate the SDS's results in the last general, local and European elections.

"It is hard to be unhappy if you post three victories in three elections," he said, while acknowledging that only the local elections truly resulted in the party participating in decision making.

The government was formed after the general election by the losers of the election, he argued, suggesting that this was not usual "in normal democracies".

"Slovenia is not at that stage yet," he said, saying the government should be in the hands of the one who earned the most trust in the election.

Janša nonetheless believes that the party has emerged out of these developments stronger, saying it got 2000 new members, including many young people.

Meanwhile, he also touched on the situation in the European political arena. He said that while the cards are being mixed anew there, Slovenia is again showing too little ambition and is not being considered a serious player on the European map.

"This also has negative consequences when it comes to securing projects, seats in European institutions, for the country's reputation and for foreign investment," Janša said.

Moreover, he was critical of the choice of Slovenian's Ambassador to the EU Janez Lenarčič as the Slovenian candidate for EU commissioner.

He said the choice was mostly guided by the wish to put forward somebody who would not endanger anyone at home, irrespective of their prospect for benefiting Slovenia in any way in the EU.

The SDS's camp involves various activities, including several hikes, among them to Mt. Triglav on 27 July.

All our stories on the SDS are here

20 Jul 2019, 09:14 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 19 July 2019

Mladina: New social order key to tackling climate change

STA, 19 July 2019 - Reflecting on efforts against climate change, the left-wing weekly Mladina says the current piecemeal measures - raising awareness about plastic, car and air transport, meat etc.- are welcome. However, to truly tackle the situation, it will be necessary to change the social order and dethrone work as the concept central to everybody's identity and survival.

The weekly paper's editor in chief Grega Repovž points to preliminary findings that many forms of work, consisting of the workers driving to work, executing their tasks and returning home, entail higher costs - environmental expressed in material costs - than the workers' wages.

As long as work continues to have its current social status, as long as it is a source of survival, a measure of an individual's success in life, their social status, as long as it stays on the pedestal where it was put by both capitalism and socialism, truly meaningful change that would reduce the burdens placed on the environment is not possible.

While deciding to reduce the temperature in one's flat in the winter by one degree, to adopt a zero waste approach when buying fruits and vegetables, to only use air transport twice a year etc. are all very positive steps, they are not truly radical in the sense needed to really tackle climate change.

"It is necessary to become more radical, to demand a new social order ... One thing is clear: redefining the position of work means a redefinition of society. As soon as an individual's life fulfilment will no longer be tied to work, everything will change.

"The worst thing here is that work mostly does not deliver this much expected fulfilment to the everyday individual, it only offers a future promise (it is in fact all a kind of faith in work), only to lead at one point in life to the resigned acceptance of things as they are: working in exchange for pay ... in a way that determines the rhythm and manner of the life of individuals, of families, of society."

Demokracija: Labelling Identitarians Extremists a Horrific Attack on Freedom

STA, 18 July 2019 – The right-wing weekly Demokracija takes issue in its latest editorial with Slovenian mainstream media reporting widely on the Identitarian movement being classified as right-wing extremist in Germany. It expresses shock at why people problematise charity being made conditional on ethnicity, and issues what amounts to a call to arms against the left.

While ignoring Europol reports on terrorism showing that "(far)leftists are a bigger threat to Europe than (far)rightists", the "mainstream media (MSM)" pushed the news from Germany and served a whole load of nonsense in the process, says Jože Biščak, the editor of the right-wing magazine co-owned by the opposition Democrats (SDS).

He highlights a report by the website of RTV Slovenija that "sees a security threat in the Identitarian movement 'offering food to the homeless that contains pork, whereby it excludes Muslims'".

"Večer meanwhile says the Slovenian Identitarians have been showing increasing support for the National Bloc group, 'which is following the model from abroad to highlight its support to the vulnerable and poor - but only if they have the right national, religious and ethnic background.'"

"Anyone who loves freedom at least a little, was horrified. Attention! The Identitarians use their own money to buy food and help, they do this at their own expense and in their own free time, but because the leftists have no influence over whom the former help and what kind of food they distribute, they designate this group as far-right."

Biščak says the leftists are unable to comprehend that they cannot interfere with the right of "individuals...to help whom they wish" and are thus "sending the state after the Identitarians", "having it in their DNA to want to control other people's property, which is unconstitutional".

While arguing that unconstitutional actions have also become an everyday affair under the Marjan Šarec government, Biščak says the right had been passive for too long, allowing the left to do as it pleased.

He points to those killed in summary executions after WWII and the silencing of their families, to people who remain judges despite having violated human rights in the past, while he also speaks of "the importing of new voters from the Balkans" and of "opening the door widely to illegal migrants as if our fate as a nation is sealed, a collapse inevitable, and a victory of the primitive hordes at our door unavoidable".

"We were as if under a spell and seemed mad, but let us not forget that, once we count the number of people among our ranks, there are still more of us, the good, than them, the bad, in this beautiful part of the old continent.

"We only need to wake up and push back the left, which is destroying all that we found sacred and allowed us to survive as a nation. Let us for once show, for god's sake, that we can do more than just pull in our horns and squeal, that we can also bark loudly and what is more, bite strongly," Biščak says in the commentary entitled A Dog that Barks Also Needs to Bite.

All our posts in this series can be found here, while you can keep up-to-date on Slovenia politics here, and find the daily headlines here

19 Jul 2019, 12:57 PM

STA, 18 July  2019- Twelve new ambassadors have been formally appointed as part of a regular rotation at Slovenian diplomatic missions. Embassies in countries including France, Greece, Italy and the Holy See will get new leaderships this summer under orders signed by President Borut Pahor this week. The vast majority of the appointees are career diplomats.

The new ambassador to France is Metka Ipavic, a Foreign Ministry employee since 1992 who used to serve on the Slovenian mission to the EU and headed the ministry's sector for Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania, the Foreign Ministry said.

Tomaž Kunstelj will be the new ambassador to Italy. He is currently Slovenia's envoy to the Holy See and used to serve as ambassador to Canada and secretary general at the Foreign Ministry.

Jakob Štunf, a Foreign Ministry employee since 2002, was named the new ambassador to the Holy See. Štunf had in the past served as deputy ambassador in Prague and a Foreign Ministry spokesman for EU affairs.

Matjaž Longar will take over at the embassy in Athens. He was previously the Ljubljana-based ambassador to Portugal and served as consul general in Klagenfurt.

Primož Šeligo will assume duties as ambassador to Turkey. A Foreign Ministry employee since 1992, he has served as ambassador to Russia and Ukraine.

Slovenia's embassy in Israel will be headed by Andreja Purkart Martinez, who currently heads the Eastern Europe sector at the Foreign Ministry and used to serve as deputy ambassador to Russia and held diplomatic postings in The Hague and Washington.

Gorazd Renčelj will take over in Brazil. A Foreign Ministry employee since 2004, he has previously served as national OECD coordinator and Finance Ministry state secretary.

His predecessor in Brasilia, Alain Brian Bergant, has been named ambassador to Argentina, his fourth ambassador posting after stints in Skopje and Tirana.

Gregor Presler is the new ambassador to Montenegro, having previously served as deputy ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina and held a number of mid-level positions at the Foreign Ministry.

Slovenia's permanent missions to international institutions will also be overhauled.

Erik Kopač, who served as the top foreign policy aide to the prime minister in the Miro Cerar government, will take over the permanent mission to NATO.

Andrej Slapničar, currently serving as ambassador to France, will head the mission to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, while Barbara Žvokelj will head the Vienna office in charge of liaising with the UN, OSCE and other organisations in the Austrian capital.

The appointments are a part of a regular rotation that will include a total of 26 diplomatic missions and come after new ambassadors to Ukraine and the UN office in Geneva have already been named.

19 Jul 2019, 10:36 AM

STA, 18 July 2019 - The Slovenian government has adopted a framework migrations strategy that addresses both legal migrations as a major source of much needed labour, as well as illegal migrations as a source of security threats and challenges with regard to integration.

The strategy, the first such document in Slovenia, deals with migrations "over a long-term horizon in a multi-faceted and comprehensive way, prioritising a better understanding of all aspects of migrations," the government said on Twitter on Thursday.

In illegal migrations, Slovenia plans to focus on fast verification of eligibility for international protection, effective return of such persons, and elimination of sources of risk to national security.

The government says that "orderly and safe" migrations are beneficial for everyone, while illegal migrations "threaten the lives, security, health and basic human rights of migrants" and fan anti-immigration sentiment in recipient countries.

For legal migrations, the strategy aims to focus on eliminating structural imbalances on the labour market by attracting foreign workers as well as adopting concrete measures to entice Slovenians who have moved abroad to return.

The document was drafted by a task force that included ministries, law enforcement and intelligence services and will be followed up by action plans as well as a more detailed strategy for economic migrations.

Non-governmental organisations dealing with migrations welcomed the adoption the strategy and said they had been involved in the drafting of the document. Nevertheless, they said additional stakeholders should have been involved as well.

It would have made sense to involve trade unions, academia, and local government, said Katarina Bervar Sternad of PIC, a platform that offers legal advice to NGOs.

The document is an improvement on the original blueprint but involving more stakeholders would have given it a more long-term perspective on the challenges and opportunities that migrations bring, she told the STA.

18 Jul 2019, 20:04 PM

STA, 18 July 2019 - Lynda Blanchard was endorsed the new US ambassador to Slovenia by the US Senate on Thursday, more than a year after being nominated by President Donald Trump.

An entrepreneur and humanitarian activist from Alabama, Blanchard was endorsed by 54 votes in favour and 40 against.

Among those voting against was Amy Klobuchar, a senator of Slovenian descent from Minnesota, who is running for the Democratic nomination for US president in the 2020 election.

Nominated by Trump in June 2018, Blanchard was endorsed by the Senate committee on foreign relations in September, but her appointment was held up by procedural obstacles related to the election of the new US Congress.

Because the Senate did not confirm her appointment by the end of last year, her candidacy was automatically returned to the White House in accordance with the rules of procedure.

The White House submitted the nomination again on 18 January, and the Senate committee on foreign relations referred the nomination for a Senate vote without a new hearing.

In her hearing on the committee in August 2018, Blanchard described Slovenia as "a reliable US partner" and "a regional leader in implementing democratic reforms" in the Balkans.

She pledged to encourage privatisation, noting that 50% of the Slovenian economy was "under state ownership or control", which entailed "opportunities for increased private investment".

Blanchard argued that US-Slovenian relations needed to continue to improve "through direct outreach and engagement with Slovenian people".

Blanchard succeeds Ambassador Brent Hartley, a career diplomat who served in Ljubljana between February 2015 and July 2018.

Since then, the US Embassy in Ljubljana has been headed by charge d'affaires. Gautam Rana, who was in charge initially, was replaced by Susan K. Falatko in June.

It is not clear yet when Blanchard may be expected in Slovenia, but unofficial information indicates that she will first visit the Slovenian Embassy in Washington.

The State Department said that Blanchard would not be giving any interviews before she presented her credentials to the Slovenian president.

Blanchard and her husband John, a property mogul from Alabama, have made donations to Republican party presidential candidates, including Trump.

Blanchard is a co-founder of the development foundation 100X, which is looking for creative solutions for the elimination of poverty and improving lives of children around the world.

She has also co-founded the real estate investment management company B&M, where she currently works as a senior advisor.

As part of her work in the 100X foundation, Blanchard has been active in Africa, Asia and South America, helping open orphanages and food production companies and managing sustainable development programmes.

Having been an advocate of people with special needs for almost 20 years, she has volunteered in NGO committees and supported numerous educational programmes in Alabama. She has also helped families interested in adopting children.

Lynda "Lindy" Blanchard is the mother of seven children, of which four she adopted abroad. She has a degree in mathematics and computer science from Auburn University.

Blanchard not being a career diplomat is seen as an indication that the US considers Slovenia a non-problematic, allied country.

18 Jul 2019, 12:50 PM

STA, 17 July 2019 - The rule of law, sustainable development and security in the Western Balkans were laid down as top priorities for Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021 at what was the second preparatory meeting on Wednesday.

The top priorities will expectedly be adopted by the government at its first session in August, the government Communications Office said in a press release.

Following the principle less is more, the government ministers taking part in today's meeting at the Brdo pri Kranju conference centre expressed the view that the three priorities could be the thread running through Slovenia's presidency, the office said.

This will be Slovenia's second presidency after the country entered the EU in 2004. The project is estimated to cost EUR 80 million.

Slovenia will preside over 30 ministerials and more than 2,000 other meetings, most of them to be held in Brussels.

18 Jul 2019, 11:36 AM

STA, 17 July 2019 - The Constitutional Court has annulled legislation that allows police to use systems for automatic licence plate recognition, finding it contravenes the constitutional right to protection of personal data.

Acting on a petition by the Human Rights Ombudsman, the court annulled part of Article 113 of the police tasks and powers act, which was passed as part of legislative amendments in February 2017.

The contentious paragraph that was annulled provides that police may, for the purpose of ascertaining the conditions for the car and driver's involvement in road traffic, or search of persons and objects, use technical means for optical license plate recognition.

The paragraph also provides that the means need to be applied in a way that prevents mass surveillance or facial recognition.

The Constitutional Court held that the provision contravenes Paragraph 2 of Article 38 of the Constitution which says that any action pertaining to personal data, that is every step of their processing, collection, retention, access, transmission, analysis, comparison shall be provided by law.

The court noted that automatic license plate checks involve data collection and their checking against other personal data bases. Each data processing step would require to be specified by law individually.

Since the contentious provision does not specify, nor has the government provided a convincing explanation that other provisions in the act provide for the collected license plate data to be processed by means of automatic checking against other databases, the solution contravenes the requirement of Paragraph 2 of Article 38 of the Constitution.

The court will deliberate separately on other contentious issues in the law as argued by the ombudsman, including those concerning provisions on air passenger data and drones.

In the ombudsman's opinion automatic license plate recognition is disproportionate and allows mass surveillance.

The Constitutional Court also annulled parts of some other articles in the act that refer to the contentious provision.

Since the government has notified the court that the police have not put automatic plate recognition into use, the court did not deliberate on potential erasure of data collected in such a way.

Commenting on the decision, Interior Ministry State Secretary Sandi Čurin said that automatic license plate recognition had so far been implemented as a pilot project, and that all data collected would be erased.

Obviously, the police force and the Interior Ministry will respect the court's decision, said Čurin, but added that automatic license plate recognition contributed to road safety, so the ministry and the police would examine the possibility to enact the measure in some other way.

Ombudsman Peter Svetina welcomed the decision, but also noted that the court is yet to decide on other parts of the ombudsman's petition challenging several other provisions that were introduced into the police powers act in February 2017.

17 Jul 2019, 14:23 PM

STA, 17 July 2019 - PM Marjan Šarec has put forward Janez Lenarčič, Slovenia's permanent representative to the EU, as the country's candidate for European commissioner. Describing the career diplomat as an experienced expert, Šarec told the press that coalition partners had already been notified of the proposal, which will be discussed by the government on Thursday.

Jump to biography

"He is experienced, he knows how the EU operates, he has been working in diplomacy for a long time. This is what we presently need," Šarec said about Lenarčič.

A seasoned diplomat, Lenarčič has also served as ambassador to the OSCE, as director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, as secretary of Slovenia's permanent UN mission, and as diplomatic adviser to the highest state officials.

Šarec said he had been weighing different options carefully since the EU election and came to the conclusion that, given the composition of the government, Slovenia needed a neutral candidate.

He also noted that his Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the fellow coalition SocDems had each secured two MEP seats as the most successful coalition parties in the recent EU election, which is why he would not have found it fair to have the candidate come from either of the two parties.

He said that many opportunities had been missed by Slovenia and that it is right to give a chance to somebody who knows the workings of the EU. Šarec is confident that the fellow coalition parties will also recognise the national interest of Slovenia and the importance of unity.

"If I look at the interests of Slovenia and the expectations of people outside, I'm convinced that this is the right decision," the prime minister said, adding he had waited a little before making his choice public to prevent a smear campaign against Lenarčič.

The SocDems, who had rooted for their MEP Tanja Fajon, responded to the news by speaking of a unilateral decision that sent an unpleasant message.

Criticising what they see as political horse-trading that led to the election of Ursula von der Leyen as Commission president with the support of far-right votes from Hungary and Poland, the SocDems said they expected "Slovenia would have acted differently and pick a Slovenian commissioner candidate with democratic legitimacy as a key condition" alongside competences, experience and reputation.

Šarec also touched on Fajon today, saying he found it hard to imagine how her participation in the Commission would be possible after the MEP had publicly denied support to von der Leyen.

As for von der Leyen's wish to have member states each put forward a male as well as a woman candidate, Šarec said he expected most countries would not do that.

He argued having two candidates would spell trouble for the rejected one: "We know what happens with candidates who are not selected."

Asked which department on the Commission Slovenia would like, Šarec said it would strive for one of the departments suiting it the most, one of the options being enlargement. He said he had already discussed the topic with von der Leyen.

Commenting on his expectations regarding the new Commission head, Šarec said he expected she would behave differently than her predecessor.

"I expect her to respect the rule of law and not take sides, to be more active when it comes to the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans and to secure equal treatment for all member states," he said.

In his first reaction, Lenarčič spoke of a great honour and responsibility, while stressing that this was only the first step in the appointment process.

He said that the trust expressed in Lenarčič by the PM now needed to confirmed by the government. If this happens, he will first also have to win the trust of von der Leyen and then also of the relevant committee in the European Parliament.

A brief biography of Janez Lenarčič

STA, 17 July 2019 - Janez Lenarčič, Slovenia's current ambassador to the EU who has been proposed for the post of European commissioner, is a career diplomat. He has served as ambassador to the OSCE, as director of the OSCE's Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, as secretary of Slovenia's permanent UN mission, and as the PM's diplomatic adviser.

Lenarčič, born in Ljubljana on 6 November 1967, graduated in international law in Ljubljana in 1992 and started working for the Foreign Ministry the same year.

Between 1994 and 1999 he worked with Slovenia's permanent mission at the UN, initially as the third and then as the first secretary. In 2000 he started serving as adviser to the foreign minister and the following year he became the diplomatic adviser to the prime minister, the late Janez Drnovšek.

In 2002 and 2003 Lenarčič worked as state secretary in the PM's office, to be appointed in 2003 the head of the Slovenian mission to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). During Slovenia's OSCE presidency in 2005 he headed the organisation's permanent council.

In 2006 he was appointed state secretary for European affairs, serving also during Slovenia's first presidency of the EU in 2008 during the centre-right government of Janez Janša. He was the head of the task force in charge of preparing Slovenia's EU presidency.

In July 2008 he was appointed director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights and confirmed for a second and final term at the same post in May 2011.

In September 2014 Lenarčič became state secretary in the office of the then PM Miro Cerar, where he was in charge of foreign and European affairs.

He served under Cerar's centre-left government until July 2016 when he took over as Slovenia's permanent representative to the EU.

When assuming office in Brussels, Lenarčič highlighted migration and an effective control over the external border among Slovenia's as well as the EU's priorities. Another Slovenian priority noted was the country's presidency over the EU in 2021.

Lenarčič is considered an apolitical expert and has been in the conversation for the commissioner post for some time.

He speaks English, French and Serbian.

16 Jul 2019, 11:25 AM

STA, 15 July 2019 - The parliamentary Home Policy Committee discussed joint Slovenian-Italian border police patrols at an emergency session on Monday with the opposition arguing that these were misguided and could give an excuse to Italy to carry out its threat and put up a border fence.

Jernej Vrtovec, the deputy for opposition New Slovenia (NSi), which called the session, labelled joint border patrols as a mistake with long-term consequences.

He argued that in this way Slovenia would give Italy an excuse to consider other, stiffer measures to control migration, including erecting a fence on the most exposed sections of the border.

"Italy is a sovereign country, it can build, but this is not in the European spirit. Slovenia must send a clear message to Italy that such surveillance would seriously impact on people's lives on the border," he said.

Concerns about Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini's threat to erect a fence and reinstate police checks on the border with Slovenia were also raised by the mayors of border communities of Nova Gorica and Renče-Vogrsko, Klemen Miklavič and Tarik Žigon.

However, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar rushed to assure everyone present that joint patrols were not reinstating border controls, saying that most citizens would not even notice them.

"Joint patrols send out a signal that borders are being efficiently secured and make migration routes towards the west less attractive," said the minister.

Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, who is in Brussels today, labelled the claims of the opposition MPs as misleading and said that this measure was a step to prevent Italy from introducing border checks.

Slovenia cooperates with police forces of all neighbouring countries and continues to conduct joint border patrols with Croatia and Hungary. Italy maintains such patrols with its other neighbours as well.

The initiative for the joint border patrols was made by Italy in late April and four joint patrols became operational on 1 July.

They will exercise surveillance in the shared security space during night-time for three months in a bid to prevent cross-border crime and illegal migration.

Like the minister, Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar underscored that the joint patrols were not conducting border checks.

Most coalition deputies argued that joint patrols were an effective way to provide security with Tina Heferle from the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) saying they could prevent erection of border obstacles.

Gregor Perič, an MP for the Modern Centre Party (SMC), maintained that Salvini could find another reason to put up a border fence, rather than a potential failure of joint patrols.

However, Maša Kociper from the coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) does not favour joint patrols.

Vrtovec and Branko Grims from the opposition Democratic Party (SDS) argued that joint patrols made no sense because it was not in Slovenia's interest to stop migrants who want to enter Italy.

Moreover, Vrtovec said that joint patrols were Slovenia's admission that it was not coping with the situation on its south border.

The NSi believes that measures should be taken to step up protection of the Schengen border, which would render joint patrols superfluous, an idea also supported by the SDS and National Party (SNS).

Minister Poklukar argued that Slovenia already exercised effective control of the Schengen border, something that he said was confirmed by Frontex and Europol in their assessments, as well as by the fact that Italy returned a mere 169 migrants to Slovenia this year.

The border with Croatia is being secured by various police units, backed up by troops, drones and helicopters. More fence has been commissioned as well and extra budget funds made available.

The committee failed to endorse the NSi's proposals to call on the government to take all measure needed to effectively secure the border with Croatia, and to take steps to restrict Slovenia's asylum law.

16 Jul 2019, 09:17 AM

STA, 15 July 2019 - The National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, vetoed on Monday legislative changes that cut state funding for private primary schools, arguing the cut was in opposition to the Constitutional Court decision ordering that funding be equalised with that for public schools.

The veto could spell trouble for the controversial changes, adopted last week in a 42:36 vote after a tug-of-war over the interpretation and enforcement of a 2014 top court ruling.

For the lower chamber to override veto, the changes would require absolute majority, meaning 46 MPs. The repeat vote is expected to be held on Thursday, but Gregor Perič of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), the coalition party that abstained from voting last week, already confirmed today the SMC would not change its mind and could not support the bill.

He said the SMC was not afraid of its decision having political consequences, arguing the party had played with open cards all along.

The councillors who filed the veto proposal argued the changes mean a cut in funds and run contrary to the December 2014 decision of the Constitutional Court that ordered full state funding for publicly approved curricula.

The opponents of the changes claim the legislator introduced an unfair distinction between publicly approved curricula and those that obtained public certification, the latter applying for private schools.

The changes introduce full state funding for the segment of private schools curricula corresponding with the public curricula, but completely scrap state funding for additional programmes, which continue to be covered for public schools.

Until now, private schools got 85% of the total state funding received by public schools. Opponents of the changes say that the cut also affects programmes that are part of compulsory primary education, which runs against public interest.

Education Minister Jernej Pikalo defended the changes today, arguing they were in line with the Constitutional Court ruling.

He said international documents also clearly stated that while the state should enable parents to raise their children in line with their world view, the state was not obliged to fund this.

A special commission of the National Council met ahead of today's vote to reject the veto proposal 6:1, with its chair Branimir Štrukelj arguing that private education caused segregation.

National Council president Alojz Kovšca disagreed, saying this was a political and ideological issue, while some councillors argued there are regions in Slovenia where parents do not have the option to send their child to a private school at all.

The opposition right-leaning parties rejected the changes last week. While the Left backed the coalition to help pass them, the SMC abstained from voting.

All our stories in education are here

14 Jul 2019, 15:38 PM

STA, 13 July 2019 - The Left (Levica), an opposition party that supports Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's minority government, has threatened to withhold its support for the crucial 2020-2021 budget bills in autumn unless the government implements the agreement is signed with the Left and "gives up rightist policies".

 

This was the conclusion of a meeting of the party's governing council on Saturday, convened due to mounting dissatisfaction with with the government's performance.

"The Left will not support a right government. But it's not just a Janez Janša government that's right, actions are what determines a government's character," party leader Luka Mesec said, lamenting the current government's "strong neoliberal and authoritarian tendencies".

The Left wanted to implement before the summer at least four of the projects enshrined in a pact that it signed with the government in exchange for votes in parliament, but that did not pan out: it claims only one of 13 agreed projects had been realised.

The party's biggest concern is a healthcare act that would effectively prevent privatisation in the sector, higher minimum wage for student work, and transfer of land from the bad bank to the National Housing Fund as a way to boost the construction of social housing.

Mesec said the party had decided to support the government because it expected agreements would be honoured and that its priorities would be realised.

It also thought that "after years of neoliberal governments Slovenia will finally get a centre-left government that would not save money on the poor, that would tackle fundamental developmental and social issues, and have an environmental programme."

"These goals have not been accomplished," according to Mesec.

Šarec has repeatedly dismissed the claim that the agreed projects were not being realised and there are indications he will make the budget vote in autumn a vote of confidence in the government.

Left votes have been indispensable for the government, most recently in the passage of a controversial act on the financing of primary schools that would have collapsed were it not for backing from the Left.

The party has threatened to withhold its support several times before, but it never carried out its threat.

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