STA, 15 February 2021 - The Janez Janša government survived a motion of no confidence as only 40 MP voted in favour in a secret ballot on Monday, six too few. There were seven votes against and six invalid ballots, whereas the majority of the coalition MPs abstained.
The motion was filed by five centre-left opposition parties, which nominated Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leader Karl Erjavec for prime minister.
The day-long debate saw the centre-left opposition argue that this was about a democratic Slovenia versus a slide into autocracy under Janša.
Erjavec said his new government's goal would be "to make Slovenia a normal state again", while boosting trust in all three branches of power.
The coalition highlighted the government's achievement in a difficult period and accused the leftist parties of trying to abuse the coronavirus epidemic for political gain.
Janša said the government had done much more than the previous one despite the harsh epidemiological situation. He called the motion a "destructive farce".
Speaking after the vote, Erjavec said it was now just over a year to go until the next general election, and that is when voters will decide whether this government had done a good job. "If not before, the hour of truth will come when the next general election is held."
He said the people were dissatisfied with the coronavirus restrictions and the failure of cabinet members to obey by the rules that they put in place.
While the ballot was secret and it is impossible to know how individual MPs voted, the vote would suggest only one DeSUS MP supported the motion, reflecting a long-running rift between the party leadership and its deputy group.
Erjavec said DeSUS would remain in the opposition and he would now work on consolidating the party. He indicated that if any DeSUS MPs decided to ally with the coalition by signing a special cooperation agreement, they would remain MPs only as long as their current term lasts.
Janša, commenting on Twitter, said the National Assembly had finally done the tallying and determined that not even all members of the Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL) were in favour of the motion, adding the hashtag "meagre40".
The partners in his coalition emphasised that it was now time to continue working after needlessly expending energy on this motion.
Modern Centre Party (SMC) leader Zdravko Počivalšek said on Twitter: "Now we could at least try to join forces for the serious challenges before us. Let's overcome the bad feelings and create the foundations for a different politics."
New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin said the outcome made it clear that the government was strong. "Our work is directed towards containing the spread of the epidemic, to provide healthcare accessible to all, and to strengthen the economy.