STA, 4 June 2019 - Modern Centre Party (SMC) president Miro Cerar has notified the party he founded in 2014 he would not seek re-election at the congress he called for autumn after SMC performed dismally in the election to the European Parliament.
Cerar made the announcement at the outset of a session of the party's executive committee on Tuesday, according to SMC's official Twitter profile.
He will stay on as foreign minister and "help the party remain a firm member of the coalition and an important factor in the Slovenian political arena," the party said.
The news comes after the SMC won less than 2% of the vote, by far the worst showing of any parliamentary party in the elections to the European Parliament.
The share of the vote is in stark contrast with almost 10% the party won in the general election a year ago and the nearly 35% it got just after it was founded in 2014.
Just days after the EU vote, Cerar announced a congress for autumn where he planned to "see whether I still enjoy the party's trust".
Cerar was prime minister in 2014-2018, a period of rapid economic growth. He has been credited with returning the country to calm after a turbulent crisis period, but the stint has also been described as a missed opportunity due to the absence of real reforms.
In the Marjan Šarec government, the party has had trouble finding its footing in the company of several coalition partners with similar, centre-left platforms.
It has also been plagued by corruption allegations going back to its stint running the government, which appears to have tarnished its image among voters.
Cerar's announcement comes just a day after Šarec proposed that Slovenian members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) join forces in order to prevent fragmentation.
While SMC was reserved about the proposal, Cerar's withdrawal might pave the way for a potential merger with the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ).
The exit might also make Cerar a contender in coalition talks about Slovenia's candidate for EU commissioner, which are supposed to start in earnest next week.