Modern Centre Party (SMC) Expels Milan Brglez, Party Vice-President

By , 27 Jun 2018, 14:46 PM Politics
Milan Brglez Milan Brglez Wikimedia: Hladnikm CC by 4.0

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STA, 27 June 2018 - The executive committee of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) unanimously decided at Tuesday's session to expel Milan Brglez, a party vice-president, from the SMC. Brglez wrote on Facebook he had been expelled for being an upright politician, for occasionally being critical of the party and for opposing a coalition with the Democrats (SDS). 

The party said in a press release that the initiative for the expulsion of the MP, who served as parliamentary speaker until last week, had come from several members of the executive committee citing Brglez's failure to honour decisions taken by party bodies.

Our pre-election profile of the SMC is here

Responding to Brglez implying that the SMC could enter a coalition with the right-wing SDS without him, the party tweeted that it had decided at the same session "it would only participate in the building of a centre-left coalition".

"The SMC stands by its position on this," the party added, pointing to the coalition talks being conducted by Marjan Šarec of the election runner-up LMŠ.

Brglez raised dust last week when he said that he was ready to stay on as National Assembly speaker even after the SMC's executive committee put forward the outgoing Prime Minister Miro Cerar as the only candidate at a meeting of the left-leaning parties.

Media also reported that Cerar and Brglez had divergent opinions on participation in a future coalition although they both said that the SMC would not join a coalition led by Janez Janša of the SDS.

Brglez convened a press conference today and asserted that the event had been carefully prepared in advance, as evident from extensive and fast changes executed in the party's bodies before the vote on his expulsion.

Brglez rejected the accusations against him, saying Cerar had violated the decisions of the executive committee more frequently than him, for instance when he was afraid to implement the decision to recognise Palestine.

Also, he said that his statement on being willing to prolong his stint as speaker had been taken out of context, from an interview in which he actually backed Cerar for the post.

Brglez said the key problem had been his demand for the party's consolidation after the election, for "bringing competent people to positions as opposed to our people", as well his idea to bring the SMC closer to liberal parties.

Brglez could not yet say how he would continue his political career, saying "a cooling of heads" was necessary first and that he did not wish to cause additional problems as long as the political situation was so sensitive.

"Until there is a minimal chance for a centre-left coalition, each step needs be thought through," he said, announcing he would stay part of the SMC deputy group, "if only because it is not possible to exclude me from there".

As regards his statement that he was excluded over his opposition to the SMC entering an SDS-led coalition, he said he considered himself "a symbolic and actual bulwark against this happening".

"Maybe this is only my perception," he added, while expressing concern over "pressure within the party, in committees and from those who never stood in elections but are part of the party's structure".

"You never know when somebody could break under such pressure," said Brglez, one of the most senior members and founders of the SMC.

Brglez also said he did not expect a call for him to return his mandate as MP. He said he had "earned it with hard work on the ground, where I distanced myself for what the SMC stands for".

Cerar and Brglez clashed on several occasions in the past, most notably over the aliens act, allowing parliament to impose restrictions on entry into Slovenia in case of mass migrations.

Commenting on the developments before the SMC announced it would definitely not enter an SDS-led coalition, analyst Igor Pribac said this was "first-grade political news that will strongly impact the forming of the government, irrespective of which side would form it".

Pribac, a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, finds it hard to believe that "Cerar would go back on his word to the voters" and work with Janša.

He does, however, find it possible that Cerar and Brglez had different views on whether it would be better to have the far-left Left in the LMŠ-led coalition or the centre-right New Slovenia (NSi).

The remaining parliamentary parties were reserved in their reactions, mostly saying this was the SMC's internal matter.

A comment came from the Left, which did not exclude the possibility of cooperating more closely with Brglez in the future. "I think he is at a point where he can decide what he really wants in his political career," Matej T. Vatovec of the Left told the STA.

Zmago Jelinčič of the far-right National Party (SNS) said "there was obviously a falling out in the SMC". He claims that Cerar, contrary to his statements, is actually getting ready to enter a Janša-led coalition, which Jelinčič also believes explains Brglez's exclusion.

SMC deputy group head rejects Brglez's allegations

A follow-up report from the STA states that the new head of the Modern Centre Party's (SMC) deputy group, Igor Zorčič, has rejected accusations levelled at the party by Milan Brglez, who had been expelled from the party. According to Zorčič, Brglez has been excluded from the party because it cannot afford solo actions by its vice-president.

Noting this was a sensible moment because a coalition was being outlined, Zorčič told the press on Wednesday that "in such a period the party cannot afford for one of its most prominent members, its vice-president, not to respect democratically taken decisions ... and take solo actions".

Brglez, who was parliamentary speaker until last week, raised dust when he said that he was ready to stay on as National Assembly speaker even after the SMC's executive committee put forward outgoing Prime Minister Miro Cerar as the only candidate at a meeting of the left-leaning parties.

At a press conference today, the former speaker accused the SMC of carefully preparing his expulsion in advance, but Zorčič rejected this and said that the only thing that could have been carefully prepared in advance had been Brglez's potential candidacy for speaker.

While Brglez labelled himself a bulwark against the SMC entering a coalition with the Democrats (SDS), Zorčič reiterated that the party's "decision was completely clear, this is not on the horizon". "We're joining a centrist or centre-left bloc, however you want," he said.

The deputy group head also said that Brlgez had weakened the SMC's position in coalition talks as the party will now have nine MPs instead of ten. Zorčič hopes that Brglez, who does not plan to leave the party's deputy group just yet, will nevertheless act constructively.

Anyone leaving a party can harm it in a way, but according to Zorčič, people have been wanting to join the SMC. "It'd be hard to say that his departure is bad, I believe it means above all that the party is consolidating. There will be no more talk about the party being divided," he was quick to add.

While the SMC is a very democratic and liberal party, "and we make decisions democratically, we do want the messages coming from the party to be unified, which in turn makes the party credible".

Brlez, who clashed with Cerar on several occasions in the past, is no longer the party's vice president, Zorčič confirmed.

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