STA, 5 August 2019 - Opposition New Slovenia (Nova Slovenija - NSi) head Matej Tonin presented on Monday the party's plans for the autumn congress, announcing an "overhauled and fresh" platform, and noting that the party was still willing to cooperate with the minority government. The party wants to position itself in the centre as it feels this is where it belongs.
Speaking at a press conference which also marked the 19th anniversary of the party, Tonin again expressed the readiness of the right-leaning conservative party to cooperate in projects with the ruling minority coalition.
The party is expected to confirm an overhauled platform in November. "The change will be directed towards positioning the NSi in the centre," Tonin said, adding that it would refer to the European system of content-based positioning of parties.
According to him, the party advocates centrist views both in terms of the economy and ideologically. "Of course, we are aware that our power depends on our roots," he said in reference to local committees of the party.
Touching on the programme, Tonin said it was inspired by the wish to create a new Slovenia, in which rules will be the same for all and where people will be able to live a decent life.
The 36-year-old, who took over at the helm of the party from Ljudmila Novak in January 2018, reiterated that the NSi was a connective party ready to cooperate. "But we will also accept the government coalition continuing with the set course."
Tonin said that he was in touch with the office of the prime minister, and that him and Prime Minister Šarec communicated when it came to major things in parliament.
The party, which was briefly in talks with the minority coalition before withdrawing to see the role of the coalition supporter assumed by the Left, sees possibilities for cooperation with the government on "a one law at time and one project at a time" basis.
"We don't want to sign any agreement, because the current coalition partners and the Left have the problem of the signed agreements not being implemented. Even the coalition MPs speak openly about this in parliament," Tonin said.
He assessed that the current cooperation between the government and the Left does not enable structural reforms and a development breakthrough. The NSi want reforms and cooperation mostly in healthcare, labour market and state investments.
Tonin would like to see a kind of a "partnership for development", which means that the opposition would be able to see and comment on proposed laws before they enter the formal procedure.
He nevertheless thinks that the Marjan Šarec government will be able to finish the term without major problems. "You can see that despite all the tensions, everybody is going forward peacefully and diligently," he added.
Tonin also said at the press conference that the NSi had prepared an interpellation motion against Education Minister Jernej Pikalo over the government-sponsored legislative changes cutting funds for private primary schools.
The changes stipulating that the state-approved curricula in private schools be 100% state-funded, while additional activities and services would get no state funding whatsoever, failed to get enough support in a re-vote in parliament in mid-July after being vetoed in the National Council.
Tonin said that the motion was shelved for the time being and said he had proposed to the minister to get back to talks with parties on how to implement the 2014 Constitutional Court decision ordering that funding be equalised with that for public schools.
While he said that the NSi would invite Pikalo for talks, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport told the STA that the "minister is not acquainted with the content [of the interpellation motion], so he cannot comment on it."
When the changes to the act on organisation and financing of education failed to pass the re-vote, Pikalo said he would mount a new attempt at achieving consensus. But he thinks it will be difficult to get a majority in this parliament.
Tonin said today that if the talks were not successful, the NSi would file a legislative motion of their own. "Perhaps things will change now, because this is a new circumstance," he said in reference to the failed re-vote.
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