STA, 16 June 2020 - The National Assembly failed to appoint President Borut Pahor's nominee for a Constitutional Court judge in an unprecedented move on Tuesday. Falling four votes short in the secret ballot, Andraž Teršek was rejected in a 42:38 vote. Opposition parties, which mostly backed Teršek, say this shows how strong the coalition is.
Although initially the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), the Left, National Party (SNS), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) and minority MP Felice Žiža all announced their support for Teršek, it turned out today that he only enjoyed the support of the LMŠ, SD, SAB, SMC and the Left.
SMC deputy head Janja Sluga said the party had voted in favour of Teršek as agreed despite pressure from Prime Minister Janez Janša.
The coalition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) have been against Teršek since the start, while the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) decided to vote freely. DeSUS deputy group head Franc Jurša would not reveal how he voted or say whether DeSUS had been influenced by Janša but he did stress that the coalition remained solid all along.
This was also the point made by the opposition, with the leader of SocDem MPs, Matjaž Han, noting that if all deputy groups had voted as they announced during talks with President Pahor, Teršek would have been elected.
Matej T. Vatovec of the Left said that "Janša has obviously succeeded with his pressure and showed that he has the first and last word in this coalition".
The head of the opposition LMŠ deputy group, Brane Golubović, said that a word given publicly used to matter but this was not the case any longer.
MP Andrej Rajh of the SAB said he was sad that deputy groups had not voted as they said they would.
He said the Constitutional Court had been more or less balanced so far. "I don't know which way it will lean in the future but there are some indications that it could lean to the right. In the face of the economic crisis, this could mean more aspirations for privatisation of healthcare, education, and this makes me concerned."
One issue that seems to have averted MPs from supporting Teršek was a statement he made at a round table debate in 2011, which recently appeared on Twitter.
Teršek said at the time that the influence of the civil society needed to be enhanced and that this would only be possible if representatives of the political elite left politics.
"If they themselves do not recognise this, and of course they will not recognise this as ethical and give up power themselves, then they need to be replaced by force, if necessary. This can also be done by coming into their offices, their chambers and carrying them to the street," Teršek said at the round table.
Today, he told the press that his statement had been taken out of the context and that it was an "extremely cynical metaphor without any kind of direct message".