Ljubljana related

01 Mar 2021, 14:09 PM

STA, 1 March 2021 - The Velenje Local Court has given Luka Štitić a two-month suspended sentence with a one year probation period for threatening Prime Minister Janez Janša on social media during last year's anti-government protests, several media have reported.

The ruling, published online, is final, media have reported.

Štitić was found guilty on 18 January of intimidation through making serious threats about a person's life or threatening to their loved ones.

According to the weekly Reporter, he made the threat on the Facebook page of the All-Slovenian People's Uprising on 3 November.

He wrote that Janša should be scared as the protesters would stand before his house throwing Molotovs at his window, and that soon he would realise that the safety of his wife and children is at risk but that then it would be too late. The post concluded with a call for Janša's hanging in Prešeren Square, according to Reporter.

26 Feb 2021, 18:02 PM

STA, 26 February 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has written to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen with an invitation for the Commission to appoint a fact-finding mission that would visit Slovenia to get acquainted with the state of democracy, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and media plurality.

"I do not want the saga of unsubstantiated accusations about the current Slovenian government to continue spreading across Europe - sadly with the help of the EU institutions - as it mostly serves to cover up the real problems faced by our democracy," says the letter published by the prime minister on Twitter on Friday.

The letter notes that Slovenia is taking over the six-month presidency of the EU Council on 1 July, and that "we faced a similar situation leading up to 2008, when our country chaired the Council of the EU for the first time".


Janša has proposed that Von der Leyen appoint as soon as possible a fact-finding mission that would visit Slovenia. He has assured the European Commission president that the government would enable the mission to get all required information.

"If you consider it appropriate, this group may also include representatives of the European Council and the European Parliament," adds the letter that has also been sent to all members of the European Council.

Janša noted that European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova had recently repeated accusations related to freedom of the press in Slovenia, which followed similar statements by the Commission's spokespersons.

"They, on various occasions, without any evidence, based only on individual media reporting, questioned the freedom of the press, the rule of law, judicial independence and the state of democracy in Slovenia in general."

Head of EP Democracy Group Expresses Concerns Over Media Freedom in Slovenia

The prime minister added that the situation was similar just before 2008, when Slovenia was to assume its first EU presidency, pointing to the letter signed by 571 journalists and editors from Slovenia, which he attached to his invitation.

The first Slovenian presidency of the EU did not turn out to be a "a big threat to the Union", as the journalist said at the time, and instead, "our dedicated work for the common benefit of all EU Member States was key to its success," he said.

"The second presidency of Slovenia is preceded by similar attempts organised by the same protagonists from the list of 571 journalists as in 2007; we regret to note that, this time, with the participation of some officials of the EU institutions."

Janša stressed that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Slovenia was responsibly preparing to take over the presidency of the EU Council.

"Thus, we do not wish for our work be overshadowed by absurd charges that can be dismissed by anyone who, accompanied by a capable translator, would spend a day or two following Slovenian media and political dynamics", he added.

The prime minister noted that Slovenia had a problem with the state of democracy in general. "However, I must point out that the roots and causes of this problem are much deeper and older - linked to Slovenia's communist legacy."

According to Janša, a visit by the European Commission fact-finding mission would help create a more independent and comprehensive assessment of the situation and answer a series of questions about the independence of the media and judiciary.

He concluded by saying that it was important that the same standards were applied to all, both in Slovenia and in the entire EU, when the rule of law and the state of democracy was evaluated, and that the rule of law is promoted instead of the rule with the (abuse of) law.

Responding, the Commission confirmed for the STA today that it had received Janša's letter on Thursday.

It said that the annual report on the rule of law is the proper framework to assess the situation of the freedom of the media, which is "a pillar of our democracies".

Exchanges with member states are part of that process, and work on the next annual report on the rule of law has already started, the Commission explained in a release.

Opposition critical of Janša's fact-finding letter to EU

STA, 26 February 2021 - The left-leaning opposition responded with criticism to Prime Minister Janez Janša's letter to the European Commission that invites a fact-finding mission to Slovenia. The responses range from assessments that he is diverting attention and calls that the situation should be calmed down, to such that he is not fit for the post.

Janša said in the letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that a fact-finding mission should be sent to get acquainted with the state of democracy, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and media plurality in Slovenia.

He said he did not want the "saga of unsubstantiated accusations about the current Slovenian government to continue spreading across Europe ... as it mostly serves to cover up the real problems faced by our democracy".

Social Democrats (SD) leader and MEP Tanja Fajon said she was concerned about these types of letters, and wondered whose position Janša was advocating. She called on him to calm things down for the sake of Slovenia's international reputation.

Fajon urged Janša to focus his energy on managing the Covid-19 epidemic and seek consensus in order to normalise society, instead of writing letters that made Brussels "watch us with a great deal of concern, as the entire European public is dealing with Slovenia".

Jerca Korče, an MP of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), said that the letter was intended more for the "internal public, so that Janša shows once again all the frustrations and traumas that he is expressing on the daily basis everywhere he can".

Korče said that the attention was being diverted from the government not being able to govern the country, adding that the EU had mechanisms of its own to assess when the respect of EU principles needed to be examined and protected.

As for the content of the letter, she said that Janša talked about attacks within the media landscape while blocking the financing of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) and about the judiciary while blocking the appointment of prosecutors.

Left leader Luka Mesec said that "all parties in Slovenia that consider themselves democratic should condemn the letter and distance themselves from it" and take the position that Janša is not fit to chair the EU Council.

Mesec said that Janša had clearly shown once again that he would like to be the editor of all media outlets in Slovenia and to "determine what is a lie and what is truth", labelling him an "authoritarian who is trying to seize power in the country".

As Janša was recently urged by coalition New Slovenia (NSi) leader and Defence Minister Matej Tonin to invite an EU fact-finding mission, Mesec said that they had done this together and that it had turned out once again that the NSi "is not an autonomous party, but only a tag to the SDS".

The opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) assessed that Janša is "apparently not fit to be prime minister, as he is not able to solve problems at home and even creates new ones".

Like in 2013, when he did not know how to save the country from going bankrupt and called the 'troika' for help, he is now calling the European Commission to fix freedom of the press and democracy, the party said on Twitter.

23 Feb 2021, 10:32 AM

STA, 22 February 2021 - Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld (Renew) has invited PM Janez Janša to Brussels to take part in a discussion on the media in Slovenia that is expected to take place in March, public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported on Monday.

The MEP is the chair of the European Parliament's Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group within the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs.

Last week, after Janša accused Politico's journalist Lili Bayer of lying in her story about the media in Slovenia, the MEP said she believed there was sufficient ground for the group to start monitoring the situation in the country.

In 't Veld said today that the invitation to the joint discussion had also been sent to Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti, Government Communication Office (UKOM) director Uroš Urbanija, RTV Slovenija director general Igor Kadunc and to Ilinka Todorovski as RTV Slovenija's viewers and listeners' ombudsman.

"As we did with other countries, Malta, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Belgium, we will of course invite the prime minister, ministers and other relevant representatives to present their views to us. For us it's not important whether they belong to the right or left. Important are facts, discussions, so that we know what is going on," she said.

Earlier in the day, Janša was called on by the leaders of both junior government coalition partners, New Slovenia (NSi) and Modern Centre Party (SMC), to invite an EU mission to Slovenia to investigate the state of freedom of the press.

NSi leader and Defence Minister Matej Tonin said on Twitter European Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova would learn the most about freedom of the press in Slovenia if she deployed a "fact-finding mission" to the country. His call was joined by SMC leader and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek.

20 Feb 2021, 11:34 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 18 February 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: SMC and DeSUS MPs like Nazi collaborators

STA, 19 February 2021 - The left-wing magazine Mladina compares the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and DeSUS MPs following their decision not to vote out the Janez Janša government to Nazi collaborators in the editorial headlined We're All Lili Bayer.

Noting the vote and Janša's attack on the author of a Politico article about Janša's campaign against Slovenian media, the weekly writes that by supporting the government in Monday's vote the SMC assumed full responsibility for his and the government's actions.

It accuses the party of being "involved in the demolition of the rule of law, of putting up with political blockade of prosecutor appointments and actively supporting the government's interference in the media" through its representative who was appointed to head RTV Slovenija.

"Janša's attack on the journalist Lili Bayer has not gone unnoticed. Janša has now got their support and he feels strong [...] The SMC has thus assumed full responsibility for demolition of the Slovenian cultural space, Janša's attacks on media and the rule of law, for violence against citizens on the streets [...]. After Janša's attack on Lili Bayer no one in Europe no longer needs to be explained this government's attitude to the media."

The weekly asserts that like collaborators throughout Europe hoped ardently until the very last that the Nazi Germany would not lose the war, so are the SMC and DeSUS hoping that the economy would do well and people would forget and the government would not lose the election.

However, Mladina does not expect this will happen asserting that "the candies" they are distributing are ineffective.

It repeats that Slovenia's coronavirus record is one of the poorest in Europe, which it says is also because unlike elsewhere in Europe, Slovenia does not have border checks to prevent the import of coronavirus, while people are being fined for expressing their political views in front of the parliament building.

"It would be hard to find a more obvious proof that a large part of the ostensibly anti-epidemic measures is but an abuse of the epidemic for political purposes," something the paper says is also subject of questions from representatives of EU countries and institutions, who it says are worried that a man who attacked Bayer in such a crude way should represent the EU in the second half of the year.

Demokracija: Left's actions taking Slovenia to dark place

STA, 18 February 2021 - Monday's vote of no-confidence was yet another hallucination of the leftist parties, proving that they only know how to create the unnecessary, the right-wing Demokacija magazine says on Thursday. The proposal to oust the Janez Janša government was "completely superfluous" and a result of the left's obsession with and hate of Janša.

The left has not been successful at anything even if leftist activists and the entire mainstream media have provided it with more fuel than a Boeing 747 could take.

"That's why it ended as it did: with their 'ace' Karl Erjavec and a destructive parliamentary farce, Marjan Šarec, Luka Mesec, Tanja Fajon and Alenka Bratušek have turned into an exhibition item of a failed show," the right-wing weekly says under the headline Exhibition Item of Failed Show.

Although nobody denies the leftist opposition the right to file one no-confidence motion after another, it is hard to persuade it it is wrong.

Infatuated with its own truth, it does not acknowledge reality, including that the KUL coalition was never even close to the magic 46 votes needed to topple the centre-right government.

Demokracija believes Monday's vote was just one in a series of destructive acts that are to follow, including street violence by self-styled civil society activists.

"Dear leaders of the left opposition, you are full of talk about democracy and freedom, constantly stressing dialogue, often saying you want to talk. But do you?"

The leader of the centre-right government coalition has invited you to cooperation on a number of occasions, but you have turned him down with a policy of exclusion."

The weekly wonders with whom the left would be willing to talk. It says having two ideologically different sides is good, or else we would have closed-mindedness.

It accuses the left of demonising conservativism because it is bothered by views different than its own.

"Your demonisation of everything that might smell of conservativism shamefully assumes that some are less human, that they do not have the right to be different, that they must never come to power even if they have won the election."

It thus blames the left for death calls appearing in the streets and on social media, and on the facades of churches and of the homes of "wrong" MPs, as well as for "peaceful" protesters going wild and for the spread of the coronavirus.

The magazine says it is high time for the left opposition to stop being mean. "Continuing what you do can take Slovenia to a very dark place."

All our posts in this series are here

18 Feb 2021, 19:35 PM
STA, 18 February 2021 - Dutch MEP Sophie in 't Veld (D66/Renew) believes there is sufficient grounds for the European Parliament's Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group, which she heads, to start monitoring the situation in Slovenia. Speaking in an online debate on media freedom hosted by her party D66, the MEP said the decision on such fact finding would have to be taken in the European Parliament. The monitoring group is part of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs. With the theme of the debate questioning whether Slovenia is the EU's next autocratic country, 't Veld said that it would be problematic if the Slovenian government followed the views of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Poland. As an example she noted that Prime Minister Janez Janša would initially not acknowledge Joe Biden's victory in the US presidential election. She also suggested potential difficulties as Slovenia presides the Council of the EU this year. The MEP noted that the group she heads monitored the situation in Slovakia and Malta after the murders of investigative reporters Jan Kuciak and Daphne Caruana Galizia three years ago, and the "poisonous atmosphere" towards journalists in the two countries prior to the murders. She described as unusual Janša's response to Tuesday's Politico article on the media situation in Slovenia as he attacked the author Lili Bayer, a well respected journalist, accusing her of being "instructed not to tell the truth". "It is unusual for a senior politician in his position to use such language against a journalist," Sophie in 't Veld said. She expressed concern about the Politico article writing that Slovenian reporters are responding to pressure and hate speech with censorship. In response to the Politico article Inside Slovenia's War on the Media, Janša tweeted "Well, @liliebayer was instructed not to tell the truth, so she quoted mainly 'unknown' sources from the extreme left and purposely neglected sources with names and integrity." He also accused her of lying. Janša's tweet invited widespread condemnation with many foreign correspondents in Brussels, media and organisations defending Bayer against what the International Press Association condemned in a tweet as a "baseless and rude attack against our colleague" and Politico. The European Commission condemned the accusations made by Janša, stressing that hatred, threats and personal attacks on journalists were unacceptable. Commission spokesperson Christian Wigand pointed to the statement made by European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova about a year ago in the face of attacks on journalists in Slovenia. Jourova tweeted back then that "free and independent media are key for democracies, EU values: their job is to hold us, politicians, to account. Protection and safety of journalists should be a priority for every country". Wigand said this still held true today. The Commission's chief spokesperson Eric Mamer stressed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen fully supported this message as well. Asked by reporters in Brussels whether the Commission condemned Janša's conduct, he said in French: "Yes, of course. We don't accept offensive words in relation to journalists, including in this concrete case, and we condemn them. This should be absolutely clear." Wigand meanwhile said that in its report on the rule of law last September, the Commission expressed concern about online attacks on journalists in Slovenia. Asked whether it would launch legal proceedings against Slovenia, Wigand said the Commission could not always act in the field of judiciary given that criminal law was largely in the domain of member states. Mamer added that the Commission would not launch a legal procedure on the basis of a tweet. Defence Minister Matej Tonin, the head of the coalition New Slovenia (NSi), meanwhile commented on Janša's tweets by saying that both politicians and journalists, as public figures of sorts, should not be surprised about criticism. "Assessments of our and your work may be different," he said, while noting that if Janša wrote a tweet or two fewer, he would probably had a few fronts fewer to deal with. Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans also joined the debate, saying on Twitter: "There's no obligation to like what is written in the media. There is however the obligation to respect media freedom. Vilifying, threatening or attacking journalists is a direct attack on free media. That is why journalists like @liliebayer deserve our support." The Party of European Socialists (PES) and the political group of Socialists and Democrats (S&D) in the European Parliament also condemned Janša's attitude towards journalists. Earlier, Lucas Guttenberg of the Jacques Delors Institut in Berlin called on the president of the European Council and EU leaders to speak up when their peer "bluntly smears a journalist" for critical reporting. Among the many who supported Bayer and denounced Janša's tweet was also the Association of Slovenian Journalists (DNS), while Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief of the right-wing weekly Demokracija and journalist Vinko Vasle accused Politico and Bayer in an open letter of propagating the far-left and of exporting fake news.
13 Feb 2021, 14:15 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 12 February 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: No-confidence vote last chance for opposition

STA, 12 February 2021 - Monday's vote of no confidence in the government of Janez Janša is the last chance to unseat the government, the left-wing weekly Mladina argues in Friday's editorial, noting that the motion is likely to fail but would determine who is on the right side of history.

The paper says this is the only chance for the opposition to risk failure - but it will be the moral winner in the eyes of the public regardless of the outcome.

"Every MP who votes in favour will automatically be on the right side of history. Yes, Monday will bring a tally of those in favour of democracy, and those in favour of Slovenia's Organisation," the leftist weekly says in The Illusion that the Next Attempt Is Possible.

According to Mladina, it will be a bitter moment when deputies of the coalition SMC and opposition DeSUS vote in favour of the government. "It will be bitter for them: the moment the vote is over, they will have taken upon themselves historical responsibility for Janša's past and, even more importantly, future actions."

"The very next day Janša will leverage this 'trust' to strengthen his grip on power and assault society even more brutally. And the votes for all these actions, a blank check, will have come from MPs of two parties which he has manipulated all along."

The opposition, however, cannot lose on Monday because the vote is simple: it is about what kind of country the people want to live in.

"If the motion is unsuccessful, the opposition will have a single goal: getting ready for the election. Just like Janša. DeSUS and SMC, however, will immediately remain without the trump cards that they are currently using in their game with Janša. The very next day, he will not even give the two parties a second thought."

Reporter: Janša wrong to silence experts

STA, 9 February 2021 - The right-wing magazine Reporter writes about the harsh but apparently ineffective coronavirus restrictions in Slovenia in the latest editorial headlined Five Minutes of Truth, saying the truth was delivered last week by the country's chief epidemiologist, Mario Fafangel.

The weekly notes that Croatia has almost defeated the epidemic without the harsh coronavirus restrictions and fines seen in Slovenia, where it took three months before coronavirus began to decline.

Fafangel said epidemiologists had proposed several times the reopening of primary schools up to year 5, they also proposed lifting the ban on movement outside municipality and region of residence. He also opined there was no need for a curfew.

"His comments must have upset Prime Minister Janez Janša, who has emphasised that Dr Fafangel is the acting head of the Centre for Communicable Diseases at the National Institute of Public Health (is this a threat that he won't be much longer?) and added that there are other experts in the advisory group and that opinions differ.

"Which experts have different opinions he did not say, and they have not themselves because the government or its communication office banned them from giving statements to the media," writes the weekly.

"It is unbelievable indeed, the prime minister disregards the experts' opinion and is silencing them, citizens are under a curfew and shut in their municipalities, while the parents who are protesting with their children against school closures, are getting police knocking on their door to be handed EUR 800 fine notices."

The paper remembers protesters who in 2014 rallied in front of the Ljubljana court house in protest against Janša's imprisonment in the Patria case. "The rallies were equally unlawful but none of the protesters received a fine. Today, under his power, people are punished for protesting against (unlawful) school closures."

All our posts in this series are here

10 Feb 2021, 17:16 PM

STA, 10 February 2021 - The five left-leaning opposition parties have filed again a motion for a constructive vote of no confidence in the government of Janez Janša, with Karl Erjavec, the president of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), as candidate for prime-minister designate.

The proposal from the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Left, Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and DeSUS is supported by ten MP signatures, with each of the initiating parties contributing two signatures.

Erjavec told the press as he presented the motion that the main reproaches to the government related to undermining constitutional principles.

He said that the government was going in the direction opposite to the principles of division of power, freedom of the press, respect of human rights and the rule of law, and other principles that make Slovenia a constitutional democracy.

On the contrary, the government, and in particular Prime Minister Janez Janša, is investing a lot of effort in undermining the fundamental constitutional principles, weakening regulatory institutions and establishing a so-called "second republic".

According to Erjavec, this is the main objective of the platform of the Democratic Party (SDS). This means Slovenia being on the way towards "authoritarian democracy" in which the "great leader" has the main role and the "party uncompromisingly follows him".

The president of DeSUS also said the government had no effective solutions in fighting the Covid-19 epidemic, and that its measures limited human rights and freedoms, causing severe social consequences.

"There is a great deal of discontent in the public, the mood among the people is bad, with fear and uncertainty prevailing," he added.

It is thus high time for National Assembly deputies to decide whether they support the politics pursued by Janša, or they want new, open and democratic politics that "considers the opinion of experts and does not instil fear and uncertainty."

LMŠ president Marjan Šarec said that even if the vote failed, this could not be a defeat for the opposition, which was obliged to do everything in their power to improve the situation in the country and change the direction drastically.

Tanja Fajon, the president of the SocDems, said that the motion was about boosting people's trust in politics and in normality, which the parties wanted to regain "through dialogue and through pacifying and credible politics."

Left coordinator Luka Mesec added that the "situation in Slovenia has never been worse in the last 30 years than now, under the government of Janez Janša.".

Mesec, who expects a narrow vote, said that the epidemic was not to blame for the situation, but the way the government was handling it and how it was "using it for the interests of parties".

SAB president and MP Alenka Bratušek called on all MPs to think about and remember why the citizens had elected them in the first place.

In line with the parliamentary rules of procedure, the National Assembly could discuss and take a vote on the motion as early as on Friday, and not later than 17 February. The most probable date is Monday.

The motion comes after the five parties, gathered in the informal Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), had filed a proposal for a constructive vote of no confidence in the government less than a month ago, which was supported by 42 MP signatures.

The vote never took place as Erjavec withdrew the proposal as it was not certain whether all of the 90 MPs could participate in the secret ballot due to the epidemiological concerns at the time.

He said today he would not withdraw his candidacy this time even if it was not possible for all MPs to vote, as he finds it appropriate that at least a debate is conducted in parliament about where the government is taking Slovenia.

The LMŠ, SD, Left and SAB have a combined 39 votes, or seven short of the required absolute majority. Erjavec said that in addition to the two DeSUS signatures supporting the new motion, he counted on at least one more vote from his party.

He added that he was not going to resign as DeSUS president if the constructive vote of no confidence failed, as he had returned to politics first and foremost to consolidate the party.

21 Jan 2021, 12:06 PM

STA, 21 January 2021 - Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša announced late Wednesday evening that he had sent congratulations to the newly sworn-in US President Joseph Biden.

"For those curious: Prime Minister Janez Janša congratulated today the new US President Joe Biden on taking the oath," wrote Janša, highlighting that he did it the same way and in similar words as in 2005 when he, also as prime minister, congratulated the then US President George W. Bush.

"Slovenia and the US were NATO allies then and are today," he added.

Janša was one of the few world leaders who had not congratulated Biden on his election victory before yesterday's inauguration.

Before the election, he endorsed Donald Trump and said Biden "would be one of the weakest US presidents" if he wins.

When it was becoming clear that Biden had won, Janša reposted tweets by Trump and his supporters that made allegations about election fraud and stolen elections.

Slovenian President Borut Pahor congratulated Biden when the election results were released, calling for Slovenia and the US to stay friends and strong allies. Pahor reiterated his congratulations yesterday and wished Biden good luck.

16 Jan 2021, 10:40 AM

STA, 15 January 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has described the motion of no confidence in his government as "mischievous", a "pathetic outpour of ideological hatred" to those who think differently.

Opposition Files Motion of No Confidence in Janša Govt

Writing on Twitter, he said this would be comical were Slovenia not in the middle of a bad wave of the epidemic, adding that the initiators' principle seems to be "the more of the virus, the better for KUL," a reference to the informal coalition seeking to oust him.

The response comes after a motion of no confidence was submitted on Friday with 42 MP signatures and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) candidate Karl Erjavec as candidate for prime minister. To succeed, the initiators would need 46 votes.

Janša also responded to a post by the Social Democrats (SD) listing 46 reasons why the government must be replaced. He said that what they need most of all is "a mirror, common sense, and a president who is not being eaten away by ideological hatred and can count to 46 and is thus capable of running for prime minister."

15 Jan 2021, 16:19 PM

STA, 15 January 2021 - An informal coalition of centre-left opposition parties has filed a motion of no confidence in the Janez Janša government with the backing of 42 of the 90 deputies of the National Assembly. The crux of their argument is the government's failure to cope with the coronavirus epidemic.

The motion, which puts forward Karl Erjavec as candidate for prime minister, was submitted after one of the four deputies of his Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) declined to contribute his signature in support.

Apart from the three DeSUS MPs, the signatures have been supplied by MPs from the ranks of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), the Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), joined in the Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL).

Announcing that the long-awaited motion had been tabled at last, Erjavec said he regretted they had only 42 signatures, but added: "I'm convinced we can succeed. The country's de-normalisation needs to be stopped.

"Violation of fundamental constitutional principles needs to be prevented such as interference in the judiciary, prevention of media freedom, interference in the police, state prosecution [...] I'm not going to go into details that you can all follow."

Erjavec went on to say that Slovenia's international status today was quite different from the one 30 years ago. "Our partners are countries that have problems with the rule of law and we've moved away from the core Europe."

Him as well as the leaders of the four other parties also took the government to task over its management of the coronavirus crisis, asserting that Slovenia was a global leader in terms of coronavirus infections and deaths.

"The government has caused great confusion and people's distrust of the measures, which means they don't trust this government," said Erjavec as he argued the government should step down itself for mismanaging the epidemic alone.

If they manage to form a government, Erjavec said it would not be his government but a government of people who wanted Slovenia return on track.

Should they fail, he believes the opposition parties must tie up closer together because the centre-left bloc is dispersed. "Unless we end this dark story next week, I trust we will in the next election," he said.

Earlier, DeSUS MP Branko Simonovič said he could not sign on to a motion that was tantamount to a motion of no confidence in the party considering that DeSUS member Tomaž Gantar had served as health minister until the party quitted the government in late December.

In a written statement, Simonovič added that in the secret ballot on the motion at the National Assembly next week he "will vote for the benefit of the citizens".

Meanwhile, the head of the DeSUS deputy faction, Franc Jurša, addressing reporters after the morning meeting with Erjavec, said that while three DeSUS MPs would sign on to the motion, they planned not to join KUL, but would continue as an independent deputy faction.

"I believe the heads must cool down a bit, in particular in DeSUS," Erjavec commented, adding that he believed the outcome of the secret ballot could be quite different. "If we fail, it means MPs support politics that even Europe no longer understands," he said.

The secret ballot on the no-confidence motion is expected to be held on Wednesday when Erjavec will need to get an outright majority of 46 votes to replace Janša as prime minister.

Marjan Šarec, the previous PM and LMŠ leader, noted that his minority government too had 42 MPs in parliament until he resigned in late January, thus paving the way for the Janša centre-right government.

If the vote of no confidence succeeded, Šarec said it would be a victory of the rule of law, if not, it would be a win of dark forces. "The vote will show who's for the situation as it is, and who's for putting the country back on track, so it can preside the EU without having to feel ashamed," he said.

Likewise, SD leader Tanja Fajon said they would do everything in their power to replace what she said was a harmful government. They had no intention of repeating the mistakes of past left-leaning governments, and planned to work until the end of the term.

SAB leader Alenka Bratušek, who served as prime minister during the previous financial crisis when Slovenia was on the verge of an international bailout, lambasted the government's coronavirus strategy and communication.

Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, accused Janez Janša of copying the politics of outgoing US President Donald Trump, a continuation of which would lead to the state falling apart. The vote would be a test of whether the MPs followed their conscience or political career.

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