STA, 13 January 2020 - PM Marjan Šarec responded on Monday to a Christmas greeting by Education Ministry State Secretary Jernej Štromajer on Twitter and the backlash it caused, saying that the post was "highly inappropriate" for a senior state official. He added that if Štromajer were a member of his party or his cabinet, he would have been dismissed immediately.
On Christmas Eve, Štromajer twitted a photo saying "Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal", a famous quote from Christmas classic Home Alone 2.
The post has made part of the public, particularly Christians, go up in arms. New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin said last week Štromajer's actions did not inspire tolerance and inclusivity, urging Šarec to respond to the developments.
The prime minister's office told the STA on Monday that Šarec considered Štromajer's post unacceptable. The prime minister also pointed out that the responsibility to appoint as well as remove state officials lied with coalition parties and relevant ministries.
In the wake of the incident, an online petition requesting Štromajer's stepping down has been launched by anti-gay and anti-abortion activists Metka Zevnik and Aleš Primc.
The petition, so far signed by just shy of 5,000 people, also announced support for protests which are planned for Wednesday if the government does not dismiss the state secretary by then.
Štromajer, a member of the coalition Social Democrats (SD), has apologised for the controversial post. Education Minister Jernej Pikalo, who has had words with the state secretary, wrote on his Twitter after the talk that "the Christmas statement could be funny in a comedy, but out of context it could also be inappropriate and offensive".
In today's written statement for the STA, Pikalo said state secretaries are judged by their performance, and Štromajer does a good job.
Given that the two of us discussed the incident and that Štromajer apologised before the end of the year, "I believe everything has been done for him stay on the job", he added.