Ljubljana related

09 Jun 2022, 11:44 AM

STA, 8 June 2022 - The members of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) have endorsed a merger with the Freedom Movement, the party of Prime Minister Robert Golob, in a near unanimous vote after the party failed to make the 4% threshold to enter parliament.

Wednesday's vote by the members, who confirmed the decision with 97% of the vote, follows endorsements by the LMŠ's executive committee and council in May.

Another party that did not make the cut, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), plans to merge with the Freedom Movement as well. A remote vote is planned between 13 and 15 May.

The formal merger of the three parties is expected by the end of the month, with a congress to be held before the local elections in November.

In advance of the merger, the leaders of both SAB and LMŠ have gotten ministerial posts in the Golob cabinet.

Marjan Šarec has already been appointed defence minister and Alenka Bratušek is slated for the infrastructure portfolio once a blockade by the opposition is lifted and the number of departments is expanded.

13 May 2022, 12:06 PM

STA, 12 May 2022 - The consolidation of liberal parties led by the Freedom Movement appears to be going forward. The party has confirmed plans to merge with the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), parties that did not make it to parliament, the latter having green-lit the proposal as well.

"The procedure will unfold at an accelerated pace," Freedom Movement leader Robert Golob, the presumptive new prime minister, told the press on Thursday.

Golob has already offered both leaders ministerial posts, with Šarec slated for the defence department and Bratušek planned to take over the infrastructure portfolio, which she has led once before.

The proposal for a merger was also confirmed this evening by the SAB executive committee, with the party's governing council due to take a vote in the coming days.

The LMŠ has not formally endorsed the motion yet but is likely to since Šarec has accepted the ministerial post and some other senior party members are in talks to occupy leading positions in parliament and government.

Both parties were at the forefront of the battle to unseat Janez Janša and during the course of the campaign they acted in concert with the Freedom Movement but then failed to make the 4% threshold to enter parliament.

Most analysts and commentators see the merger with the Freedom Movement as a logical step since the parties have scant chances of surviving otherwise.

02 Apr 2021, 14:21 PM

STA, 2 April 2021 - Four centre-left opposition parties have tabled a motion asking the National Assembly to impeach Prime Minister Janez Janša before the Constitutional Court, accusing him of violating several articles of the constitution and laws, pertaining to healthcare, media, prosecution and human and constitutional rights. Janša called the move pathetic.

Addressing reporters in front of the parliament, Marjan Šarec, the former prime minister and leader of the LMŠ party, presented Slovenia's failure to order its full share of available vaccines against Covid-19 in December as the first count of the motion.

On the second count, the LMŠ, Social Democrats (SD), the Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) accuse the Janša government of "deliberate destruction" of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) through suspension of financing.

The government is also accused of breaking legislation on prosecution by failing to appoint five out of ten prosecutor candidates put forward in the autumn and "dragging its feet" in the appointment of the selected candidates for European delegated prosecutors.

All those charges show "the government is eroding the foundations of democracy [...] Based on ideology it is destroying basic human rights and constitutional rights," SD leader Tanja Fajon said, offering the "spread of violence against women" as one example.

Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, highlighted the government's military investment plans, which his party has been trying to prevent through a referendum, asserting the government was trying daily to break the limits of power set by the constitution.

SAB leader Alenka Bratušek added that the health crisis had been compounded by a crisis of democratic values. "It's more than obvious Janez Janša cannot govern in a crisis."

One of the accusations levelled at the government is that the government has put the constitutional right to clean drinking water at risk through controversial amendments to the water act.

Responding on his Twitter account, Janša called the motion yet another "pathetic move" aimed at destabilising the country during the epidemic, which he said followed the failed vote of no confidence in him, "media murders of coalition partners DeSUS and SMC and a series of failed interpellations".

"The worse for Slovenia, the better for the parties SD, LMŠ and the Left," Janša said.

In a separate post, he responded to Fajon's calls for an end to violations, addressing them back to her: "We haven't heard this clear self-criticism from Tanja Fajon or the SD party before. Will actions follow? A move out of the stolen Jewish villa? No more banishing media from their press conferences? No more bowing to mass murderers? No more intolerant declining of invitations from the president?".

For the motion to succeed, it would have to be backed by at least 46 of the 90 deputies of the National Assembly. The legislature needs to decide on the proposal within 60 days or else it is considered rejected. If backed, the motion is then referred to the Constitutional Court.

Šarec said the motion was an opportunity for "each MP to take a stand". The parties propose for President Borut Pahor to state his opinion on the motion as well.

He said the deputy group established by MPs who defected from the factions of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), a former coalition partner, did not sign on to the motion but they had not talked about their potential support in the vote.

In response, the head of the group, Janja Sluga, said the charges listed in the motion were "exactly" why they left the SMC deputy group and coalition.

Janša's Democratic Party (SDS) will respond once it has studied the motion, but its coalition partner New Slovenia (NSi) accused the opposition of "destructive and irresponsible conduct".

The opposition "appear to be willing to use all available means to add political instability to the aggravated epidemiological picture", instead of joining forces in defeating the Covid crisis, said the NSi.

In a similar vein, Zmago Jelinčič, the leader of the National Party (SNS), said the motion showed the left opposition were "in a terrible panic, willing to ruin the country and homeland to regain former privileges.

The SMC and DeSUS are yet to take a stand.

This is the seventh impeachment motion to date, including one targeting a president. Most have been tabled by Janša's SDS and none have so far been successful.

18 Mar 2021, 11:51 AM

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.

06 Jun 2020, 14:21 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 5 June 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Šarec's comeback

STA, 5 June 2020 – The left-wing weekly Mladina takes a look on Friday at the latest Slovenian Public Opinion survey, which is to be released next week, but which the weekly says shows former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's LMŠ has climbed back to the top of party rankings, overtaking the ruling Democrats (SDS). It wonders what potential consequences this shift could bring.

"Slovenian Public Opinion, one of the oldest opinion polls in Slovenia, brings extremely interesting results, which were already signalled in polls by Ninamedia and Mediana - that Janez Janša and his government of the SDS, SMC, NSi and DeSUS has failed to convince voters, losing their support since assuming power on 13 March."

Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says the reasons for this are well known: Janša has abused Covid-19 for a political and ideological pogrom and for giving medical equipment deals to friends' companies. "Slovenians, including those who have otherwise no ideological reservations towards him, will never forgive him especially the latter."

However, the survey, which is released once a year by Ljubljana's Faculty of Social Sciences, is even more interesting from the aspect of Šarec, showing that two months after the change of government, the parties of Janša and Šarec are equally popular.

Mladina says "Šarec has managed to return to the first party league ... incredibly fast, while it seemed highly unlikely even in mid-April that he could at all make such a comeback". The LMŠ has managed to get back to the No. 1 spot even if people blamed him for the emergence of Janša's government coalition due to his resignation.

"What is more, he is returning to the top despite a very brutal campaign launched by the entire government coalition, the Hungarian-owned media and the media subjected to the SDS (Siol.net) which tried to portray him as the one who took wrong decisions and was responsible for the lack of medical equipment at the outbreak of the epidemic."

The survey has also shown the LMŠ, the Social Democrats (SD) and the Left would win an outright majority if an election was held now, Mladina says under the headline Šarec's Comeback. Noting the survey was carried out before Tanja Fajon took over as SD leader, Repovž believes her leadership could even further strengthen the trio.

Mladina says that voters seem to have very quickly forgiven Šarec for pushing them into distress by resigning as prime minister at the end of January, which however does not mean an early election is anywhere near.

This is also why it is too early to speculate whether it would be better if some other party than his, for instance, the Left or SD, should take the leading position. It however means that Janša's coalition partners will change their behaviour, with some MPs perhaps considering defecting to opposition parties.

Demokracija: Anti-govt protests

STA, 4 June 2020 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija takes stock of Friday's bicycle protests in the latest editorial, finding that while everyone has a right to protest, police will have to demand the organisers acquire the permission to hold protests in order to protect those who do not protest.

Under the headline Dinner with Cyclists, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak writes that one of those spotted at the protests was Rajko Kenda, the former medical director of the UKC Ljubljana Paediatric Clinic, whom he sees as "caricature and pathetic cry of fighters for democracy".

"The man who ruined paediatrics and child surgery and who (...) knows about everything should have been pedalling an exercise bike at Dob [prison]."

Still, Biščak says that anyone has a right to protest against anything as protest is one of the forms of the freedom of speech.

"The problem is in understanding human freedoms. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has done much damage. There is much that has been thrown in there, including the right to prosperity. As a result the concepts of rights and freedoms have become totally mixed up."

The editor notes that as a result human rights are now also a right to housing, artistic expression, positive rights that pertain to an individual, while collective rights do not exist.

"Cyclists come to the protest as individuals. As a group, regardless of their numbers, they do not have any special freedoms (or rights).

"The first problem is the permission for the protest. They do not have one. They come and protest. This is wrong understanding of the rule of law. The permission for a protest rally is not designed for the authorities to check the content but so they know who provides the security and where and when the rally will be held (...)

"Consider what happened if ten of us gathered and we protested by driving in the middle of Slovenska Street. We would be captured like rabbits because we were only ten. That would mean the law of the stronger (...) It is unequal treatment before the law."

Noting that the protests held in support of Janez Janša in front of the Ljubljana court house in 2014 were held with the authorities' permission and in accordance with traffic regulations, Biščak says that while police now wisely let Friday cyclists their way, sooner or alter they will have to demand the organisers get the permission.

"Do not let them worry, they will get one, there is no dictatorship in Slovenia that would prevent anyone from protesting or expressing their views. However, in that way responsibility will be personalised and locations determined, which they will have to respect. So they do not disrupt life in the capital and those 99% of Ljubljana people who are not at the protest."

All our posts in this series are here

19 Feb 2020, 13:48 PM

STA, 19 February 2020 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has denied allegations that he and his State Secretary Damir Črnčec demanded information from the police about party officials in coalition-building talks with the Democrats (SDS) so as to pressure them to withdraw from the talks.

"When various portals close to the SDS report that I ordered lists and whatever else about parties in government negotiations it is clear that they are describing their own methods," Šarec tweeted last night.

"This is an attack on the police force without comparison. I believe that things would work that way with [SDS]. Maybe they already did in the past," he also said in the tweet posted after it was reported that the parliamentary Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services (KNOVS) had visited the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) [that story is here].

On Facebook this morning Šarec said: "This is the same scenario all over again; a few KNOVS members make an unannounced visit to the NBI and the police. Because the NBI is allegedly being abused to persecute political opponents.

"But in truth, KNOVS is the one being abused and nobody else. Independent institutions are investigating Hungarian funds which are flowing we all know where and attention has to be diverted."

Yesterday's inspection was headed by KNOVS vice president Žan Mahnič, a member of the SDS, the party associated with media that have allegedly received funding from circles close to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

It was reported last week that the NBI was investigating alleged funding from Hungary to two media outlets close to the SDS, which the SDS has no denied. However, the police said yesterday in relation to this that they were not investigating illegal funding of political parties but a criminal act investigated ex officio.

Šarec's State Secretary Črnčec issued a statement through his lawyer last night denying reports by the right-leaning Demokracija that he had spun a web of spies.

This morning, he also took to Facebook, posting a strong-worded criticism of SDS leader Janez Janša. Črnčec used to be an associate of Janša's and was appointed the head of the Intelligence and Security Agency at the Ministry of Defence in 2005 when Janša was first prime minister and became the head of the National Intelligence and Security Agency SOVA in 2012 when Janša was prime minister a second time.

Today, he said that Janša's modus operandi was harmful to democracy and right-wing political parties. He said that their ways parted when he realised that "the SDS apparatus operates on the principles of a mafia business, where all paths lead to its leader and his inner circle".

He said he needed a while to realise the ramifications of Janša's modus operandi, which, he says entails submissiveness to foreigners while systemically undermining vital social subsystems, like freedom of speech and other constitutional values, in Slovenia.

"Yesterday's fake news about alleged mass espionage, the abuse of KNOVS by MPs of the SDS, and the attack on the police show how close Slovenia is to slipping into Janševist authoritarianism, funded with no-good money from abroad."

In his post, Črnčec also wonders "why and for how many Judas silver coins or millions did [Janša] sell Slovenia's national interests to its eastern neighbour".

01 Feb 2020, 12:14 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 31 January 2020

Mladina: Rejection of health insurance changes disgraceful

STA, 31 January 2020 – The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that the rejection of the proposal to abolish top-up health insurance in parliament was a disgrace, and that the result of the vote should be saved for future reference. What is even more problematic is that the vote has automatically become the foundation for a possible new coalition.

In the commentary headlined Someone Said Corruption?, editor-in-chief of the left-leaning weekly Grega Repovž notes that once it had become clear that a majority in parliament supported the bill, commercial insurers had launched a wide lobbying campaign.

Although it is not clear whether a new government will be formed, it is clear that one of the "largest lobbying campaigns in modern Slovenia has taken place in front of our eyes, and the formation of a new and the collapse of the current government is closely connected with this campaign."

Commenting on the vote, Repovž notes that the Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) have been advocates of private health insurers for years, and the National Party (SNS) too, although not as openly.

"This week, the interest of private insurers was also publicly supported by three more parties: the Modern Centre Party (SMC), the party which relies on ethics, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), which fights for common people, and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which fights for pensioners. This says it all."

The result of the vote should thus be put up on the wall because it is a list of people who voted that taxpayer money is transferred every month to some accounts, that someone there take their cut, and then transfer the money forward.

"The vote on the abolition of top-up health insurance has automatically become the foundation for the formation of a potential new government. This is what has brought them together. A good start. And it's only the beginning!"

Demokracija: Šarec alone to blame for coalition problems

STA, 30 January 2020 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija says in its commentary on Thursday that it was clear from the beginning that the government of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec would not last a full term, and that the fault is Šarec's alone, although he pretends to be the victim, blaming coalition partners for the coalition's problems.

Under the headline The Slovenian Patient, Demokracija says that Šarec was the one who let himself be drawn into a game of exclusions even before the election of 2018, he was the one who (officially) put together the coalition, approved the ministers and was responsible for the government's work.

What is more, Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj, who resigned shortly before Šarec, and Health Minister Aleš Šabeder, who was also set to resign at any moment, were both "from the same nest".

"Šarec did not have problems only with coalition partners, but also with ministers nominated by [his own party] LMŠ. But above all, he had problems with himself, his narcissism and his tongue, which he used to create a smokescreen and hide his incompetence."

While he failed to do anything reform-wise, he was very brutal in political staffing, fighting ideological opponents, abusing power and spending budget funds, the paper says, liking the 16 months Šarec was in power to a long, dark winter.

During this time, the state has been worn out in the face of programmed social justice, socialist mythology and threats to people who think differently, as well as political correctness.

All of this was dictated by progressive activists who always found the right "partners" for Šarec, who was interested only in preserving the status quo and protecting his position.

As a result, ordinary people, patriots who work for a living and fear for safety, have been "covered with a layer of radioactive contempt".

"They say that bad governments are chosen by good people who do not vote," the weekly says, expressing hope that people will not be fooled by "leftist frauds" and fall for "stand-up comedians from the transition left's closet", ahead of the likely snap election.

All our posts in this series are here

28 Jan 2020, 09:20 AM

STA, 27 January 2020 - The government's relative inefficiency and PM Marjan Šarec's realising it would be very hard to secure a majority to appoint two new ministers after the defence and finance ministers have announced stepping down, are the reasons for which Šarec stepped down, pundits have told the STA. They say it is now hard to predict the course of developments.

"Šarec has apparently assessed that given the degree of its inefficiency, the government would not be able to implement certain measures and he would be eventually blamed for it, so he decided to check the situation in an election now rather than any time later," says Domovina news portal editor Rok Čakš.

Andraž Zorko of pollster Valicon meanwhile says there are several reasons for Šarec's resignation, but the key cause was Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj's resignation, announced today.

Zorko says that replacing one minister after Defence Minister Karl Erjavec announced his plan to resign earlier this month would have been a major challenge in itself.

Čakš agrees, saying December's appointment of Angelika Mlinar as cohesion minister "caused this government agonising pain" and "the question is how much energy and time would have to be invested to get a new finance minister through parliament".

However, Šarec' move was not entirely unexpected since he is the only one who could gain from an early election, "while it was harder to imagine he would trigger the process leading to an early election himself".

Zorko believes that while future developments are uncertain, they will depend on the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), saying "the SMC is the key piece on the chess board and SMC leader Zdravko Počivalšek the bishop".

Of course, this is true only if the opposition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) assess an early election is not a good possibility, he says.

The two conservative parties have 33 MPs in the 90-year parliament, so if joined by 10 SMC MPs, they they would need just another small party - for instance the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) or the three MPs of the opposition National Party (SNS) to form a coalition.

Similarly, Čakš sees the coalition SAB as the main candidate to switch coalitions, since its chances to make it to parliament are rather slim, according to polls.

Among the parties "probably not keen on an early election" he also mentions the SNS, and notes that only a simple majority is needed to appoint a new prime minister-designate.

Should the parties opt to form a new coalition instead of going to an early election, Zorko and Čakč could not anticipate who the prime minister-designate would be.

Zorko finds it likely it would be a non-partisan candidate with strong support in parliament, or NSi leader Matej Tonin or SMC leader Zdravko Počivalšek.

In case of an early election, Zorko expects an unpredictable situation, and Čakš says the interpretation of who is to be blamed for the early election in the media will be crucial.

"This is where Šarec risks the most," says Čaks, arguing that if he manages to convince the public that he found himself in a dead-end and that he needs more votes to run the country successfully, then he could win the election.

Meanwhile, constitutional jurist Ciril Ribičič says an early election could not be disputed because the deadline set by the Constitutional Court to change electoral legislation has not yet expired.

Although it is not good for an election to be held if the electoral laws are not in line with the Constitution, "it's not as bad as it may seem".

Ribičič points to the fact that "only one thing is not in line with the Constitution, namely the different sizes of electoral districts".

In December 2018, the Constitutional Court gave parliament two years to change the legislation.

28 Jan 2020, 08:53 AM

STA, 27 January 2020 - The LMŠ-led minority government, whose disbanding was announced today 16 months into its term, struggled since its very start with securing parliamentary support as well as with strife in the five-member coalition and with its erstwhile partner, the Left. Serious reforms appeared unattainable, healthcare funding being the latest case in point.

The centre-left government was formed by Marjan Šarec, a novice in the national political arena, and his LMŠ party with the SocDems, Modern Centre Party (SMC), the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) after the relative election winner Janez Janša and his right-wing Democrats (SDS) failed to put together a coalition.

A cooperation agreement with the opposition Left was an important component of the equation, but cracks soon appeared in the relationship with the far-left party, starting with Šarec's hiring of Damir Črnčec, a radical opponent of migration, as national security state secretary in his office.

While the Left managed to push through some of its agenda, mostly to improve the lives of low-income earners, it insisted that the bulk of the pledges made in the cooperation agreement were being ignored.

The straw that broke the camel's back was the coalition's rejection in the autumn of the Left's proposal for scrapping the voluntary top-up insurance system that several governments had attempted to do away with to no avail in the past.

While the Left withdrew from the partnership agreement at the start of November, the coalition pushed ahead with the healthcare funding reform.

The Left's bill was reshaped, but in a way that was not to the liking of Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj, who resigned earlier today. The resignation of Bertoncelj, who did not state a clear reason for his decision, was followed up immediately by PM Šarec's.

Šarec, who insists his resignation was not the result of the differences between Health Minister Aleš Šabeder and Bertoncelj, was also facing the search for a new defence minister, with Karl Erjavec announcing his resignation recently after failing to get reappointed DeSUS leader.

After losing the Left, the minority coalition had come to rely on the opposition National Party (SNS) in parliamentary voting, and the appointment of Development and Cohesion Minister Angelika Mlinar at the end of 2019 already proved a major challenge.

Cabinet staffing had also kept Šarec busy before that, with five ministers resigning before Erjavec and Bertoncelj.

Meanwhile, the need for structural reforms was raised by many during the government's term, but the coalition partners acknowledged on several occasions that adopting them would be difficult in a minority government situation.

On the other hand, the economic boom helped keep the government going, with record high budgets envisaged for 2020 and 2021.

The government managed to slightly tweak pension and tax legislation, while struggling somewhat with bills related to welfare.

It failed to implement Constitutional Court rulings requiring changes to electoral legislation and to funding rules for private primary schools.

The latter case, which has seen the government refuse putting state funding for private schools on a par with that for public schools, led to Šarec being subjected to an SDS and SNS-initiated impeachment vote at the start of 2019.

Šarec, who survived the vote, has recently also had to deal with accusations he help an acquaintance get a job at intelligence and security agency SOVA.

He said today that the LMŠ's 13 MPs and the current coalition did not suffice to meet people's expectations but that this could change with the early election.

The LMŠ remained in the lead in the latest Mediana agency poll commissioned by the private broadcaster POP TV. It gained two points compared to December to poll at 15.1% and the SDS added 1.4 points to 14.1%, showed the results, released on Sunday.

The SD and the Left were tied in third place at 7.2%, the centre-right opposition New Slovenia (NSi) ranked fifth at 6.2%, DeSUS got 4.1% in sixth, while all other parties fell well short of the 4% parliamentary threshold.

27 Jan 2020, 20:18 PM

STA, 27 January 2020 - PM Marjan Šarec announced his resignation on Monday after Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj stepped down, presumably over differences regarding a bill scrapping top-up health insurance. Šarec said he could not achieve what he had set out to do with the current minority coalition. The most likely scenario seems to be snap election.

Šarec said that he "cannot fulfil people's expectations at the moment with 13 MPs and this coalition", but stressed he could fulfil them after an early election.

He seems eager to find out whether the polls showing 50% support for the government are right and whether the approval ratings are realistic or not.

Most parties also seem to favour going to the polls early, although the possibility of forming a new coalition in this term cannot be completely ruled out yet.

An advocate of the latter option seems to be Zdravko Počivalšek, the leader of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), which Šarec mentioned as a potential pre-election ally. He said he did not see the need for a snap election.

In contrast, Janez Janša, the leader of the largest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS), deems an early election by far the likeliest and best option.

Given the current composition of the National Assembly, Janša believes it would be hard to form a solid development coalition.

But he proposes for the time ahead of the election, which he reckons could be held in the second half of April, to be used to pass what he says are urgently needed laws, including a bill on the demographic fund, a bill to cut waiting times in healthcare and a bill on public procurement in healthcare.

Similarly, the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) wants to push through parliament the bill to cut waiting times in healthcare, and amendments to the penal code to step up prosecution of sex abuse.

The NSi, Left, and the coalition Social Democrats (SD) all favour an early election. The new leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), Aleksandra Pivec, said DeSUS was ready for a fresh election but would want to talk things through in the party before taking any decisions.

Meanwhile, the coalition SMC and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) are not keen on snap election, as is not the opposition National Party (SNS).

Both the SDS and NSi indicated that changes to the electoral law needed after the Constitutional Court found the existing legislation unconstitutional were no longer possible ahead of a fresh election.

Responding to the government collapse, employers and trade unions said this would delay the necessary reforms in healthcare, long-term care, housing policy, labour relationships act, pension reform and other fields.

Trade unions said the start of Šarec's term had been promising, with changes to the minimum wage and abolition of austerity measures, but later the government work came to a standstill due to problems with securing a majority.

Representatives of employers think Šarec "cut the Gordian Knot" today, given that there had been no coordinated political direction or predictability in recent months.

As there are many challenges to be tackled, they want Slovenia to get a new government with a clear political mandate as soon as possible.

Analysts believe the reasons for the government collapse were its relative inefficiency and Šarec's realisation that it would be very hard to secure a majority to appoint two new ministers after the defence and finance ministers stepped down.

"Šarec has apparently assessed that given the degree of its inefficiency, the government would not be able to implement certain measures and he would be eventually blamed for it, so he decided to check the situation in an election now rather than any time later," Domovina news portal editor Rok Čakš said.

In the 16 months in office, the minority government of the LMŠ, SD, SMC, SAB and DeSUS, which was formed after the 2018 early election following Janša's failure to form a coalition even though his party won a plurality of the vote, did not implement any substantial reform.

It managed to push through some changes to pension and tax legislation, but fell short of modifying laws on social affairs.

Two important Constitution Court decisions also remain unimplemented, the one demanding changes to the election legislation and the ruling concerning the financing of private primary schools.

Slovenia's 13th government did, however, manage to pass a record EUR 10 billion plus budgets for 2020 and 2012, both with surplus.

Šarec's term as prime minister will end when the National Assembly takes note of his resignation. This could happen as early as Wednesday. The term of the entire cabinet will end at the same time and the government will assume a caretaker role. A snap election could be held in late April.

According to the latest public opinion polls, Šarec is the second most popular politician in the country preceded only by President Borut Pahor.

His LMŠ party is neck-and-neck with Janša's SDS in topping the party rankings. The most recent poll conducted by pollster Mediana put the LMŠ's support at 15.1%, ahead of the SDS, which polled at 14.1%.

Šarec is the fourth Slovenian prime minister to resign, following Janez Drnovšek in December 2002, Alenka Bratušek in May 2014 and Miro Cerar in March 2018.

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