The opposition SDS party tabled a bill for the parliamentary procedure to reintroduce compulsory national service last Thursday. The SDS deputy Žan Mahnič stated for the press that the proposal is likely to pass the first reading, since “the idea is supported by some other parties of the so-called left, including some parties of the coalition"
Slovenia abolished compulsory military service in 2003 when it opted for a defence system consisting of professional army only. At the time SDS was one of the main supporters of the change.
In the last six years, explained Mahnič, members of SDS have sadly watched the Slovenian Armed Forces collapse, pointing out that the number of permanent members is no longer sufficient to defend Slovenia in the event of a military attack or to work effectively in peace. In the event of an armed attack, explained Mahnič, Slovenia does not have a young generation, or even a middle-aged one, who would know how to handle weapons and be aware of basic military techniques. He also expressed a belief that reintroduction of compulsory national service would not only strengthen the Slovenian army, but also patriotism, national awareness and the psychophysical abilities of Slovenian citizens. However, missions abroad would still be performed by a professional army.
The SDS national service bill proposes a compulsory six-month military service for all male citizens aged 19 that can be postponed in the case of university enrolment, and 12 months of civilian service for conscientious objectors, working in non-military position. Women would be able to join on a voluntary basis.
Mahnič also cited an SDS poll which suggests that 70% of Slovenian citizens are in favour of the proposed bill, which will also require €10 million for an increase in logistic capacity and additional €23 million for workforce upgrade.
When asked about the political parties in support of conscription, Mahnič stated that ahead of the last elections coalition’s the pensioner’s party, DeSUS, was clearly supporting the idea, the nationalist party SNS is also in its favour, and it has also been discussed in in the coalition party of Alenka Bratušek (SAB), but their support of the bill remained to be confirmed.
Although having no firm assurance from the left-leaning coalition parties that they would support the bill, the right-wing SDS deputy Mahnič is certain that the bill enjoys support from the left since “the idea about compulsory military service has also been expressed twice publicly by Milan Kučan.”
Milan Kučan was the first president of Slovenia, who in popular right-wing theories is often seen as the main player on the left, albeit one who remains behind the curtain.
The bill’s first reading has not yet entered the parliamentary schedule.