STA, 4 November 2021 - Centre-left opposition parties have called on Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak to resign after a new recording was published of his conversation with the businessman Bojan Petan dating to 2007, when Vizjak served as the economy minister in the first Janez Janša government.
"Based on the revelations, the Slovenian public today expected Minister Vizjak to resign. If that does not happen, we expect that Prime Minister Janez Janša will do that for him," said Matjaž Nemec, a deputy of the Social Democrats.
Nemec said a snap election was necessary as well, a point also raised by LMŠ president Marjan Šarec, who said that "Slovenia deserves better. Resignation of the government and a snap election is the only solution."
Levica likewise thinks a snap election is the best option, with MP Nataša Sukič arguing that the entire government must step down, and SAB president Alenka Bratušek said a snap election would be an opportunity for the people to say that "they've had it with such conduct".
The parties claim the tapes reveal the modus operandi of the Democrats (SDS), which Bratušek and Šarec described as "white-collar crime".
The officials said New Slovenia (NSi), the junior coalition partner, now faced the choice of acting on its statement when the first tape was released that they would demand Vizjak step aside if the tape turns out to be authentic.
Šarec said the NSi shared responsibility by "silently observing and looking for excuses," whereas Nemec said the NSi had three choices now: either to demand that Vizjak resign, back the forthcoming motion of no confidence, or leave the coalition.
The NSi said today they would discuss the matter within the party and make their position clear before the motion of no confidence is due on the National Assembly's agenda.
The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which is formally in the opposition but often supports the coalition in parliamentary votes, said the no-confidence vote would be "a good opportunity to clarify all circumstances," whereas National Party (SNS) president Zmago Jelinčič said he was "not interested" in this scandal.
The head of the group of unaffiliated MPs, Janja Sluga, also said that Vizjak's statements "very clearly show the SDS's modus operandi". She said Vizjak's resignation could not be expected and that only election as soon as possible was a solution.
The reactions come after a new tape featuring Vizjak and Petan was released by POP TV.
The tape appears to confirm that the original allegation against Vizjak - that he advised Petan how to dodge taxes - was indeed misleading like Vizjak claimed, in that statements were taken out of context.
But while Vizjak questioned the authenticity of the first tape, he acknowledged that the latest tape, which features him speaking about how the government would "squeeze a judge's balls" to get its way in the privatisation of spa company Terme Čatež, was authentic.