STA, 10 August 2019 - Slovenia is in for a hectic autumn as PM Marjan Šarec intends to peg the vote on the crucial 2020-2021 budget bills to a confidence vote, with the opposition Left saying it could withhold support for his minority government. But analysts see no reason for a no-confidence vote, which would trigger an early election that practically no party wants.
The Left, which the opposition considers a radical leftist party, has accused the government of "rightist policies", urging it to drop them if it wants to continue counting on its support.
But it is particularly unhappy with the slow fulfilment of commitments the cabinet made in an agreement with it featuring 13 projects the Left wants implemented.
By tying the budget and confidence votes, Šarec would test the coalition's trust and the support of the Left, which has had only one of the planned projects realised.
Without the Left, the government does not have an absolute majority in parliament, which is needed if legislation is vetoed by the upper chamber and put to a re-vote in the lower chamber.
If the Left indeed withdraws support, Šarec could potentially seek new alliances with the National Party (SNS), which voted for the revised 2019 budget, or with New Slovenia (NSi).
The conservative NSi has recently said it would be willing to work closer with the government on a project-to-project basis, an option also seen as viable by analysts.
Andraž Zorko from pollster Valicon believes the confidence vote resulting in no-confidence is highly unlikely, doubting Šarec would dare to propose it if there were any signs he could lose the vote.
"There is no reason for anyone to vote for the government's dismissal because there are only two scenarios after it: an alternative, centre-right government, which is rather unlikely, or an election."
Judging by opinion polls, Šarec is perhaps the only one interested in an early election, according to Zorko, whereas Alem Maksuit believes no matter how strong Šarec feels, he would not risk toppling his own government.
Zorko notes the prime minister's LMŠ party does better in opinion polls than in elections, saying "it enjoyed 26% in polls in February, but won only around 12% in the EU vote four months later".
Compared to the many parties that have emerged over the past decade in Slovenia, Zorko considers Šarec a survivor, with his "LMŠ doing everything smoothly for now".
"Šarec is a nice combination of a new politician with elements of populism adapted to the Slovenian milieu, which is more left than right, although he is faring well on both sides."
Maksuti from the Institute for Political Management says Šarec is using his polls-based legitimacy to exert pressure on his partners, "but things can change very quickly in Slovenia".
Noting an early election is in no party's interest at the moment, Maksuti believes "the only possible change is the NSi replacing the Left in cooperation with the government".
The NSi "is willing to compromise because it is aware how politics works and because it is not that radical", he says.
Zorko, on the other hand, sees the NSi's willingness to support the government "to distance itself from the Democrats (SDS) and narrow the Left's wiggle room".
Maksuti says the Left will most probably extend the period in which it expects its projects to be implemented, or terminate the pact with the government.
But he believes the Left is actually harming itself by further cooperating with the government.
Zorko does not expect the Left to change its tactics either, noting it is quite successful in navigating between the government and its electorate's (dis)satisfaction.
Another change to the political relations could come in October as the Modern Centre Party (SMC), the second strongest coalition party, changes leadership.
Miro Cerar, the SMC's leader and founder, said he would no longer stand for re-election after the party fared poorly in May's European elections.
He is expected to be replaced at a congress by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, a member of the party's executive council.
Zorko has just recently told the STA that with Počivalšek as SMC leader, many cards are open because he is in a way a new face, somewhat peculiar and strong-willed.
However, if the SMC, which lacks a clear ideological profile, positions itself slightly more to the right economically-wise, this could well win it new votes.
Maksuti has begged to differ, asserting the SMC, which was set up just before the 2014 election, which it won in a landslide, is a political corpse and Počivalšek politically illiterate.
STA, 5 August 2019 - Opposition New Slovenia (Nova Slovenija - NSi) head Matej Tonin presented on Monday the party's plans for the autumn congress, announcing an "overhauled and fresh" platform, and noting that the party was still willing to cooperate with the minority government. The party wants to position itself in the centre as it feels this is where it belongs.
Speaking at a press conference which also marked the 19th anniversary of the party, Tonin again expressed the readiness of the right-leaning conservative party to cooperate in projects with the ruling minority coalition.
The party is expected to confirm an overhauled platform in November. "The change will be directed towards positioning the NSi in the centre," Tonin said, adding that it would refer to the European system of content-based positioning of parties.
According to him, the party advocates centrist views both in terms of the economy and ideologically. "Of course, we are aware that our power depends on our roots," he said in reference to local committees of the party.
Touching on the programme, Tonin said it was inspired by the wish to create a new Slovenia, in which rules will be the same for all and where people will be able to live a decent life.
The 36-year-old, who took over at the helm of the party from Ljudmila Novak in January 2018, reiterated that the NSi was a connective party ready to cooperate. "But we will also accept the government coalition continuing with the set course."
Tonin said that he was in touch with the office of the prime minister, and that him and Prime Minister Šarec communicated when it came to major things in parliament.
The party, which was briefly in talks with the minority coalition before withdrawing to see the role of the coalition supporter assumed by the Left, sees possibilities for cooperation with the government on "a one law at time and one project at a time" basis.
"We don't want to sign any agreement, because the current coalition partners and the Left have the problem of the signed agreements not being implemented. Even the coalition MPs speak openly about this in parliament," Tonin said.
He assessed that the current cooperation between the government and the Left does not enable structural reforms and a development breakthrough. The NSi want reforms and cooperation mostly in healthcare, labour market and state investments.
Tonin would like to see a kind of a "partnership for development", which means that the opposition would be able to see and comment on proposed laws before they enter the formal procedure.
He nevertheless thinks that the Marjan Šarec government will be able to finish the term without major problems. "You can see that despite all the tensions, everybody is going forward peacefully and diligently," he added.
Tonin also said at the press conference that the NSi had prepared an interpellation motion against Education Minister Jernej Pikalo over the government-sponsored legislative changes cutting funds for private primary schools.
The changes stipulating that the state-approved curricula in private schools be 100% state-funded, while additional activities and services would get no state funding whatsoever, failed to get enough support in a re-vote in parliament in mid-July after being vetoed in the National Council.
Tonin said that the motion was shelved for the time being and said he had proposed to the minister to get back to talks with parties on how to implement the 2014 Constitutional Court decision ordering that funding be equalised with that for public schools.
While he said that the NSi would invite Pikalo for talks, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport told the STA that the "minister is not acquainted with the content [of the interpellation motion], so he cannot comment on it."
When the changes to the act on organisation and financing of education failed to pass the re-vote, Pikalo said he would mount a new attempt at achieving consensus. But he thinks it will be difficult to get a majority in this parliament.
Tonin said today that if the talks were not successful, the NSi would file a legislative motion of their own. "Perhaps things will change now, because this is a new circumstance," he said in reference to the failed re-vote.
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STA, 24 April 2019 - The Social Democrats (SD) became the latest party to formally enter the EU election race on Wednesday. Party officials said their campaign would focus on restoring trust in Europe by highlighting jobs, climate change, security and migrations as the main issues.
"These European elections will be a landmark for the future of Europe. Either we go down the path of dangerous disintegration, or the path of a strong Europe," the party's top candidate, MEP Tanja Fajon, said as the candidacies were submitted to the National Electoral Commission.
A strong and united Europe is of paramount importance for Slovenia, she said, noting that two decades of conservative dominance in the EU parliament had resulted in unfair taxations and multinational corporations and the rich not paying their taxes.
The party's goal is to have two MEPs in the next parliament - Fajon is currently their sole representative - and it has recently also started promoting the idea that Slovenia's next commissioner should be picked from the ranks of candidates contesting the election.
"The next commissioner from Slovenia ought to go through European elections. The people have the right to know who the commissioner will be," Fajon said.
Slovenia does not have strict rules about commissioner nominations. It is up to the government to pick a candidate, who then has to undergo a hearing at the European Parliament.
STA, 24 April 2019 - The far-right United Slovenia, led by the self-styled militia leader Andrej Šiško, who is fresh out of prison for attempts to subvert the constitutional order, fielded its candidates for MEPs on Wednesday. The party will be campaigning for Slovenia's exit from the EU.
Only three candidates will contest the election: Šiško, Joško Joras, a self-styled defender of the south border, and the party's co-president Anica Bidar.
Šiško, the party's front-runner, said United Slovenia was the only party that would protect the Slovenian Constitution in the election and advocate for Slovenia to leave the EU.
Learn more about the colourful Andrej Šiško here
"The EU in its current form is unacceptable for Slovenian citizens. The kind that the gentlemen from European elites want to build is even more unacceptable," Šiško said.
The United Slovenia movement promotes cooperation with European nations and countries, and wants a Europe of free and independent nations and countries that would also include Russia.
Calling on citizens who want change to turn out for the election, Šiško said that if their candidate got elected they would not join any of the European political groups but work on a project basis.
STA, 24 April 2019 - The coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) plans to focus its EU election campaign on their top candidate, MEP Igor Šoltes. Their slogan will be Šoltes, Our Man in Brussels, the party said as it formally submitted the candidacies to the National Electoral Commission on Wednesday.
DeSUS is counting on the base to help it retain its sole MEP seat, party leader Karl Erjavec said, noting that turnout would be low, which was getting party members and supporters to vote would be decisive.
Šoltes joined DeSUS after winning his MEP seat with an independent list in 2014, and after the party's current MEP, Ivo Vajgl, decided to retire.
He said he would be the voice of those who are ignored and sidelined, focusing on issues such as longevity of society, standard of living for the elderly, the environment, healthy food and social justice.
DeSUS plans to spend roughly EUR 30,000 on the campaign. The emphasis will be on field work and social networks.
Looking ahead, Erjavec said that the vote would be followed by a "very turbulent period" on the domestic scene as parties that have their representatives in the EU parliament gathered strength.
He predicts that there will be consolidation on the left sooner or later since "it is difficult to run the country so fragmented."
STA, 6 April 2019 - Some 200 delegates gathered for the founding congress of the new far-right party in Ljubljana on Saturday. The first project of the Homeland League (Domovinska Liga), using the acronym DOM (home), will be standing in the EU election.
Bernard Brščič, a former senior aide to opposition Democrats (SDS) leader Janez Janša who works as an economist for power grid operator Eles, was elected president today.
Lucija Šikovec Ušaj, a lawyer who ran on the SDS ticket in the general election but later left the party because she thought it was too soft on migrations, was elected vice president.
Brščič told the press after the congress that DOM had no "uncles from behind the scenes". "This is not a project of Milan Kučan nor Janez Janša nor Vladimir Putin. It's an own-grown project that has emerged because the situation in the Slovenian political arena and in Europe is mature for the kind of platform DOM offers," he said.
The motto of the new party is Forward Slovenia. "We will always claim that the mission of the Slovenian state is to provide for the safety and well-being of Slovenian citizens. We also see the EU as a means to this end and not a goal, and we judge it by the way it contributes to the safety and well-being of Slovenian citizens."
"We claim that Slovenia is our homeland and we will not share it with anyone," said Brščič, a leading ideologue of the Slovenian alt-right.
The party, which was officially registered on 26 February, has already started collecting signatures of support for its candidacy in the upcoming EU election. The party's list of candidates will include Brščič and Šikovec Ušaj, but no other candidates have been revealed.
According to Brščič, DOM does not plan to join the European People's Party (EPP) but offer a new platform. The party is modelled on the Italian League and Fidesz in Hungary.
The party also elected an eight-member executive board and the secretary general today.
STA, 9 March 2019 - Addressing a ceremony marking 30 years since the formation of the Democrats' (SDS) precursor, Janez Janša said the SDS had stayed true to itself, its values and Slovenia even in the most challenging times. "The SDS stands for democracy and is against any totalitarianism," the party head stressed in Ljubljana on Saturday.
Janša said the party was therefore always ready to cooperate with anyone who shared this view for the benefit of Slovenia. "A party that votes against the European Parliament's resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism is not a democratic party," he added.
In the light of the EU elections, Janša stressed the importance of the EU and its future. "Perhaps never in the years since independence in 1991 have we celebrated our birthday in a time when the future ahead was so open and unpredictable. So many different possibilities lie before us. Not all of them are good," he said.
According to Janša, there is a time for every community, every nation when they need to reconsider their place in the world and such a time has come for Europe.
"The EU is strong because it gives priority to rules and the rule of law and not the rule of the stronger," Janša said, adding that the biggest threat to the rule of law were double standards.
One of such example is when EU institutions very quickly detect "actual or imaginary violations in some member states, especially in those where conservative or Christian democratic parties are on power," he said.
Janša believes it is time to opt for "a Europe that Slovenians voted for in the 2003 referendum, a Europe of European civilisation and culture that protects human rights and fundamental freedoms."
The SDS head believes that the key challenge of the new European Parliament after the economic and migration crises and Brexit will be political stabilisation, which will entail upgrading the EU's defence system and monetary policy.
Touching on the EPP's threats that Hungary's Fidesz may be expelled from the group, Janša expressed hope that "this argument in our family will be resolved as soon as possible with a smart compromise, without using force."
He believes the EPP should focus on ways to ensure prosperity for all in Europe, protect the borders and provide for the security of Europeans.
The SDS celebrates today the anniversary of the founding of the Slovenian Democratic Union (SDZ) and the Social Democratic Union of Slovenia (SDZS), which are considered its precursors.
The two parties emerged from the so-called spring movements, calling for democratisation and Slovenia's independence.
Janša said that when the two parties merged the "biggest and the most successful party in Slovenia's history" had been formed, which had so far won eight elections.
For three decades, the party has been "the main pillar of Slovenia's independence, an indivisible part of the fight for democratic transformation and Slovenia's inclusion in the European civilisation's flows," Janša said.
The event at the Cankarjev Dom centre was also addressed by the European People's Party (EPP) Spitzenkandidat for the EU vote, Manfred Weber, who warned against the danger of nationalism in Europe.
Europe is much more than just laws and must provide concrete answers to concrete challenges, including migrations, he said. He also stressed the importance of a shared culture that is based on Christian values.
STA, 16 February - Alenka Bratušek was unanimously re-elected to lead the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), as more than 200 delegates got together for an electoral congress in Ljubljana on Saturday, four and a half years after the party was established. She was the only candidate for the post.
Addressing the delegates before the vote, Bratušek said the packed Old Power Station was proof the SAB was there to stay after it had already made a mark in politics.
"We're proud of our achievements ... nothing was given to us, what is more, many have tried to undermine us. That's why we are still here and even stronger."
She also reiterated the coalition party would insist on the government taking measures to improve the pensioners' financial standing and the situation in healthcare.
The party, which has three ministers and five MPs, will also push for improving the situation in public education, for a successful economy and human rights.
Bratušek said that as party president she "will always put first the state, people and our common goals which will make Slovenia a better place".
She recalled the time when she entered politics, including when she took over as prime minister (March 2013-September 2014) at the time of the deepest economic crisis.
Thanking all who had helped her and contributed to Slovenia's exiting the crisis, Bratušek could not avoid mentioning the massive bank bail-out in late 2013.
She admitted it had not been easy to decide to inject five billion euro into the banking system, "yet it was necessary if we wanted to avoid the troika and bankruptcy".
However, she was critical that those who had caused the massive bank shortfall had not yet been brought to justice.
She said those who should have been punished were now using the media to divert attention from the bank shortfall to those who had helped save the country.
"We're talking about those who solved the problem instead of those who became rich due to the bank shortfall or sank our flagship companies," she said.
The congress also elected four vice-president; MP Maša Kociper was re-elected and joined by Tatjana Voj, Slavko Šterman and Cohesion Minister Iztok Purič.
Marko Bandelli, who had had to step down as cohesion minister because of interference in the campaign for local elections last year, did not stand for re-election.
To support the fellow coalition party, senior representatives of three coalition parties attended the congress: SD leader Dejan Židan, and the SMC and LMŠ vice-presidents, Lilijana Kozlovič and Jerca Korče.
Židan recalled the times when Bratušek led the government, a member of which was also his Social Democrats (SD), noting they worked together during the hardest of times.
"We had the courage to rescue Slovenia, and this means we respect each other," said Židan.
Several of the speakers at the congress highlighted Bratušek's strong personality, notably her determination, self-confidence and courage, especially when had led the country.
STA, 13 February 2019 - The party of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec (LMŠ) has decided to run independently in the 26 May elections to the European Parliament, while the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) will try to field a joint list of candidates.
SMC leader Miro Cerar and Bratušek announced the news after Wednesday's meeting of the leaders of the three Slovenian members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE).
Cerar said the meeting was over in 15 minutes, after Šarec told them his party wanted to contest the Euro election on its own. Bratušek said this was said to be the desire of LMŠ membership.
"We told him we'd want us to run together because we believe the liberal story is important for Europe," said Cerar.
He and Bratušek agreed to propose to their parties to form a joint list of candidates because they believe that together they could be stronger and more convincing.
The LMŠ's decision might have been prompted by its high voter approval ratings at the moment, with some polls indicating the party enjoys the biggest popularity among all parties.
However, Šarec said they were not entering the EU elections on their own "just because we might be complacent about poll results. We are driven by one desire only. We want to change Slovenia and Europe as well."
He looked back at the LMŠ's stellar rise from a local party in Kamnik to his forming Slovenia's first ever minority government against the odds and despite claims that the party lacked a platform and staff.
"The elections ahead are a new opportunity for us to prove what we can." Šarec said they wanted to have their fate in their hands, and however they fare they would be responsible for their result themselves.
Despite Slovenia's small size, Šarec said the country wanted its voice heard in the EU. "We're not promising the impossible ... but we will do our best to show people it's worth trying for a better Europe."
Bratušek found the meeting a disappointment. She said she could have heard what she heard at the meeting over the phone.
"It's our strong belief that the SMC and SAB are capable of compiling a quality slate and achieving an excellent result in the election," she said.
Unofficial information prior to today's meeting indicated that the LMŠ wanted to have the top three spots on a joint list of candidates and the option to veto the candidates of the other two parties.
Cerar had said before that his party's condition in forming the joint list was that all three parties should negotiate as equal partners.
Today, Šarec said that there had been strong pressure for the three parties to run in the elections together from other European ALDE parties ad well as from Slovenia.
Asked whether the SMC and SAB would now invite the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) to join them for the EU elections, Bratušek said the two parties needed to agree technicalities first but that they had discussed that it was in their interest to invite another party.
STA, 14 January 2018 - The party of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has gained ground in the latest poll run by the newspaper Delo to reduce the gap separating it from the top ranking opposition Democrats (SDS) to 2.3 percentage points.
Having dominated the rankings for more than half a year, the SDS lost almost two percentage points from the month before to 16.2%, whereas the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) jumped more than 5 points to 13.9%.
This means that the margin between the SDS, the plurality winner of the June general election, and the runner-up LMŠ was reduced more than four-fold from ten points in December.
The Left, the government's partner in the opposition, trails at 6.8%, which is roughly level with the month before, but the party has advanced from fourth to third.
This was as the Social Democrats (SD) slipped back from second to fourth spot after losing four points to 6.5%.
Our guides to most of Slovenia’s many political parties can be found here
Delo notes that this is the first time since the June election that the poll has showed major differences in rankings between the five coalition parties.
The Modern Centre Party (SMC) of Foreign Minister Miro Cerar has lost over one percentage point to 3.7%.
The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) ranks fifth on 5.4%, 1.2 points up from the month before, followed by the National Party (SNS) on 4.1%, up 0.9 points.
Meanwhile, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) changed places so that the SAB now polled at 3.4% and DeSUS at 2%.
The non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) lost 2.5 points to 3%.
The proportion of undecided increased to more than a fifth (21.2%) with a further 7.1% saying they would not vote for any of the parties and 2.6% not wishing to answer the question.
The voter approval rating for the government and parliament also improved to 3.09 and 2.81 on a scale of one to five, from 3.01 and 2.72, respectively, the month before.
President Borut Pahor continues to top the ranking of the most popular politicians ahead of PM Šarec and EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc.
NSi leader Matej Tonin advanced to fourth while SD leader and parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan slipped a point to sixth. SAB leader Alenka Bratušek trails in 14th, Cerar in 15th and DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec in 20th.
Commenting on the increasing approval ratings for Šarec, the government and now also Šarec's list, Delo attributes them to low expectations for the minority government at the start of its term.
"Distribution of public funds which many feel in their pockets has made an impression. Higher are social benefits, minimum wages and per capita municipality income," Delo comments ion the front-page commentary.
"Almost 700,000 public employees have at least 4% more and many hope for more yet. White collars, who take the credit for the Cerar government ending its term early, are happy for the time being.
"However, the real challenges that will show what the government is made of are yet coming. The first ones will be the supplementary budget, healthcare, preparations for a pension reform and when we have to show how we are in fact prepared for the economy's cooling."
The poll was conducted by Mediana among 743 respondents between 3 and 10 January.
STA, 10 December 2018 - The Democrats (SDS) remain in the lead in the latest Mediana poll, published in Monday's Delo. The biggest opposition party, which topped the rankings for the most part of the year, is followed by the coalition Social Democrats (SD), Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the Left. The government received the best mark so far.
Two-fifths of the respondents assessed the work of the government as mediocre and almost 30% assessed it as positive or very positive.
In September, when the government was sworn in, its average mark was 2.16 on a scale from one to five but now its average mark is 3.01, which is more than the previous government of Miro Cerar reached in the last two years of its rule.
Related: Learn more about most of Slovenia’s political parties here
The most popular party by far is still the SDS, polling at 18.1%, slightly down from 18.3% in November. The ratings of the SD, LMŠ and the Left, which trail the SDS, improved compared to last month.
The SD polled at 10.5% (8.9% in November), the LMŠ at 8.5% (7%) and the Left at 6.7% (6.1%)
The non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) jumped to fifth place on 5.5% support, while polling at 1.7% only a couple of months ago.
The coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) won a percentage point to poll at 4.9%. The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) follows with 4.2% support and the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) with 3.5%.
The opposition National Party (SNS) polled at 3.2% and the coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) at 2.2%.
While DeSUS's support remained level, the remaining three parties lost some ground compared to November.
President Borut Pahor remains the most popular politician, followed by Prime Minister Marjan Šarec but Pahor received a slightly lower grade this month compared to November and Šarec a slightly higher.
European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and MEP Tanja Fajon follow in third and fourth place, respectively.
Pollster Ninamedia conducted the survey among 717 adults between 26 November and 6 December.
STA, 24 August 2018 - After being expelled from the Modern Centre Party (SMC) in late June, Milan Brglez has quit the party's faction in parliament to join the deputy group of Social Democrats (SD).
You can find our series of articles on Slovenia's many political parties, and their confusing names, here.