Šarec Launches Attempt to Impeach Janša Over Vaccines

By , 18 Mar 2021, 11:51 AM Politics
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STA, 17 March 2021 - Marjan Šarec, the head of the opposition LMŠ party carrying his name, announced an impeachment of Prime Minister Janez Janša on Wednesday because Slovenia did not order the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine in the second round of the orders last December. Šarec argues Janša thus caused direct damage to citizens and acted against the Constitution.

A report from the EU's vaccination steering board released yesterday showed Slovenia had ordered 90% of the vaccines it was entitled to in the first and second quarter of the year on a pro rata basis, and that it did not put in an order for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine during a second round of joint EU purchasing in December 2020, when an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine were available under the first contract with the company.

Šarec said the LMŠ was puzzled why Slovenia did not order the vaccine, whether it was "speculating with prices", as the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine was costlier than AstraZeneca, or the goal was to "prolong the epidemic endlessly".

"This has caused direct damage to the citizens and is also a violation of Article 51 of the Constitution, which speaks about the right to healthcare, so the LMŠ will use all means available to protect the rights of the citizens," Šarec pointed out.

The LMŠ head labelled the vaccination strategy inefficient and said Janša was trying to put the blame on everyone else but his team.

An impeachment against the prime minister can be filed in parliament by at least 10 MPs. Šarec is confident the entire opposition will be united on this and that it will "become clear in the National Assembly who cares about citizens and who does not".

Coordinator of the opposition Left Luka Mesec said the opposition would definitely respond to the news that Slovenia did not order as much vaccine as it could, but that it was yet to reach an agreement on which instrument would be the best.

He said he had already called a meeting of heads of opposition parties for Thursday.

Mesec said it was outrageous that the government had been looking to save EUR 5 million when the epidemic cost the country EUR 5.9 million a day and thousands of people have died.

If, however, the cost was not an issue, then the quarantine, epidemic and state of emergency suit someone in the government, as its goal has not been to fight the epidemic but to thoroughly rearrange social relations and take complete control over this country, Mesec said.

The opposition Social Democrats said they were yet to study the impeachment proposal. The party head, Tanja Fajon, said the SD would demand a session of the parliamentary Health Committee to discuss the ordering of Covid-19 vaccines. She noted that the EU had also not done everything right.

The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the National Party (SNS) did not comment today.

Former Health Minister Tomaž Gantar told the STA today that he had not been informed last autumn of the fact that Slovenia could have ordered additional quantities of the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine.

A commission at the Health Ministry, which has also drawn up the vaccination strategy, was in charge of that, he said.

According to him, the commission obviously decided at the time not to order additional shots of the vaccine because it was expected that the AstraZeneca vaccine would be registered first.

Marta Grgič Vitek, the national vaccination programme coordinator, told reporters today that she was a member of the commission and that all members of the body argued as much vaccines should be ordered as Slovenia was eligible for relative to the population.

Janša told reporters in Brdo pri Kranju that Gantar or the vaccination commission could hardly be blamed for not ordering the vaccine, because at the time the move had been logical in a way. "We should have probably responded quicker, when it became clear that there are complications with this vaccine, but it was not yet clear which one will be authorised first."

He added this coincided with the "artificially created political crisis", efforts to bring down the coalition, departure of one party from the coalition and the resignation of Gantar.

The head of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), Zdravko Počivalšek, said he had learnt about the impeachment motion from the media and that the government had ordered enough vaccines from all producers available.

A similar statement came from Matej Tonin, the head of the coalition New Slovenia (NSi). He said the problem was not that Slovenia had ordered insufficient amount of the vaccine but that the vaccine had not been supplied. He believes the purpose of the impeachment was to divide.

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