Pahor Makes Special Address to Parliament, Calls for Electoral Reform to Prevent Political Chaos in Slovenia

By , 19 Jun 2020, 11:24 AM Politics
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STA, 18 June 2020 - President Borut Pahor warned MPs in a special address on Thursday against any delays in securing Constitutional Court-ordered electoral reform, saying a situation could occur where it will not be possible to execute a legitimate election. "This would push our county into a constitutional crisis or even political chaos and must not happen," he said.

In what was only the second time a Slovenian president addressed the National Assembly of his own accord, Pahor stressed 21 December this year was the deadline set in the 2018 ruling by the Constitutional Court which said major discrepancies among population sizes in electoral districts no longer guaranteed the one person-one vote principle.

Pahor spoke of the most important constitutional problem in the country at the moment and urged MPs not to put off the necessary changes and implement the top court's ruling before the deadline.

There is still enough time, but only if the "demanding efforts are resumed immediately", said Pahor, who has spearhead the efforts to change electoral legislation, having hosted several rounds of talks on the topic since January 2019.

"Any postponing could have fatal consequences. In case an election is called on the basis of existing legislation, meaning without a prior implementation of the Constitutional Court ruling, a long, dark shadow of doubt about constitutional compliance would fall on the election," Pahor said.

He added the he himself as well as the people of Slovenia were justified in expecting that such a scenario will not occur.

While also pointing to the aggravating circumstances related to the threat of an economic and social crisis, Pahor warned against the reform becoming the subject of any political calculations. "Nobody can win here...we can all only lose," he argued.

Pahor feels that a general election held on the basis of existing legislation before 21 December this year would still be acceptable, while this would definitely not be the case for any later date, where such an election "could not escape justified reproaches about being illegitimate and at odds with the constitution".

"The Constitutional Court wrote in its ruling that its non-implementation would amount to a violation of Article 2 of the constitution, which states Slovenia is a welfare sate and a state governed by the rule of law, and of paragraph 2 of Article 3, which says that in Slovenia power is vested in the people," Pahor noted.

He reminded MPs that that efforts for the changes were not at the starting point, as several rounds of talks have been held. Agreement has for instance been reached in principle that there are two possible solutions - redrawing the borders of the districts or scrapping the districts and introducing a preferential vote.

MPs came closest to agreeing on the second option, one that Pahor also favours, but parliament was 3 votes short in the face of opposition by the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) and junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).

Saying efforts have now been revived after coming to a halt during the coronavirus pandemic, Pahor says an understanding seems to have been reached that a new attempt would be made for an agreement on a redrawing of the municipal borders.

"I'm aware that meeting the task before the end of the year will be very difficult, actually almost impossible. However, all of us, who are represented by you, trust that you are up to the task," he said.

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