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.

25 Mar 2022, 09:04 AM

STA, 24 March 2022 - Our Land (Naša dežela), a party formed by ex-Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec, held a congress at Brdo pri Kranju on Thursday to present its platform and candidates standing in the April general election. Pivec, ex-leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), said that Our Land will put addressing challenges before ideological topics.

One of the non-parliamentary party's priorities is Slovenia's decentralised development. The party proposes establishing provinces and transferring some of the state's and municipal powers on to them.

The party will push for a thorough reform of the education system to adjust it to the needs of the present time, and for an efficient health reform.

The elderly, business and balanced infrastructure development across the country will also be in the focus of the party's efforts.

Highlighting agriculture, security and energy independence as further key areas for the party to focus on, Pivec said: "Slovenia is a land with favourable conditions to raise the level of self-sufficiency."

The party will have 88 candidates, that is in all 88 electoral districts across the country, with Pivec standing in the Ptuj Ormož district, from where she comes.

Among the candidates are two MPs, independent Mateja Udovč, formerly an MP for the coalition Concretely, and DeSUS MP Branko Simonovič, who has joined Our Land.

Beekeepers Association head Boštjan Noč and ex-Concretely MP Urška Ban, currently a Public Administration Ministry state secretary, will also stand on the Our Land slate.

20 Mar 2022, 10:08 AM

STA, 19 March 2022 - The Freedom Movement (Gibanje Svoboda), a newly formed party that ranks at or near the top of most polls a month before the election, confirmed its list of candidates an election platform on Saturday centred on the green transition, modern welfare state, and a free and open society governed by the rule of law.

"The party is offering a new social compact ... that will not leave anyone behind and will stand the test of time," party president Robert Golob said.

The green transition chapter of the programme says that Slovenia must abandon fossil fuels and significantly expand renewables while being mindful of keeping energy prices low. This should be coupled with the promotion of circular economy.

When it comes to the economy, the party plans to make Slovenia more attractive for investors in green and digital companies, promote investments in future technologies, and help companies reduce their carbon footprint.

In healthcare, an area that features prominently in almost all parties' programmes, the plan is to reduce wait times with emergency spending, digitise health services, and keep prices in check.

There are several ideas for reform of the political system, most notably a stronger role for the president of the republic, who would appoint judges, and the introduction of a preference vote at the general election.

Foreign policy plans involve a stronger role for Slovenia in the Alpine, Adriatic, Danube and Mediterranean regions, modernisation of the armed forces, and removal of the fence on the border with Croatia.

The party also plans to tackle fiscal policy by reforming corporate income tax, strengthening the Slovenian capital market, activate dormant capital, and promote employee ownership of companies.

Stronger family policy involves a universal child allowance, state guarantees for youths buying their first homes, accelerated construction of housing, and the promotion of housing cooperatives.

There is also mention of decent pensions and the option of pensioners returning to work after they retire, and reform of media law and modernisation of the cultural sector.

Golob juxtaposed the party's platform with the policies of the current government, which he said had pursued "policies that hides fear of your own people with the words of contempt," which prompted people to rebel.

The Freedom Movement and its poll ratings have for weeks been the subject of criticism from the right, where pundits wondered how a party without a programme could possibly be so popular.

Golob dismissed this saying that the party was now offering more than a programme, it was offering a vision of what the country should look like in 2030, as well as specific projects that are actionable immediately.

This two-tiered approach shows that the team which wrote the programme would take ownership of its implementation. "We are here to improve things, not because of our own benefits," he said.

The candidate list contains senior members of the party including Golob, plus current MP Janja Sluga and Jurij Lep, and former centre-left MPs Mirjam Bon Klajnšček, Tamara Vonta and Borut Sajovic, who is currently the mayor of Tržič.

Other prominent names include nuclear energy expert Miroslav Gregorič, charity worker Tereza Novak, former chancellor of the University of Ljubljana Igor Papič, former Luka Koper CEO Dimitrij Zadel, former boxing champion Dejan Zavec and medical doctor Danijel Bešič Loredan.

02 Feb 2022, 16:52 PM

STA, 2 February 2022 - Five parties signed an agreement in Ljubljana on Wednesday to jointly contest the 24 April election with the Connecting Slovenia (Povežimo Slovenijo) list, with the main points of the joint programme revolving around principles that promote the benefits for the economy, people and the environment. 

The alliance comprises the coalition party Concretely, which was recently created with the merger of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and Economically Active Party (GAS), and the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS), Slovenian Greens, New People's Party (NLS) and New Social Democrats.

The agreement says that the presidents of the five parties will define the key steps of the election campaign in consensus and assist each other in all campaign activities.

Also to be taken in consensus are decisions regarding the formation of a joint parliamentary group and cooperation with potential allies after the elections. The agreement is valid until the end of the next term of the National Assembly.

SLS president Marjan Podobnik said the goal was to create a Slovenia that people voted for in the independence referendum, adding that the alliance would reach out to everybody and "no one will be left on their own."

The president of Concretely and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said that the alliance was connected with the shared vision of what Slovenia's future should be like. "There are differences between us," but these can be overcome, he said.

"If we want to place Slovenia on top of the rankings of the most successful countries, we must show that we are serious about the new political formation," Počivalšek said, adding that the alliance promoted responsible social and economic development.

Slovenian Greens president Andrej Čuš said that in the last 30 years, environmental policy had not had the right people who could talk to each other about finding joint solutions, unlike in some EU member states that had progressive democracies.

Čuš said that the groundwater, water, air and living environment was being poisoned every day, and that the situation was the same in the National Assembly, adding that Connecting Slovenia would advocate for environmental issues.

NLS president and Interior Ministry State Secretary Franc Kangler said that the alliance created an atmosphere of dialogue, integration and unification, and that it would fight for a just and fair Slovenia.

"It is the responsibility of us all ... to create dialogue, to unite and not exclude anyone in the future," Kangler said, adding that Connecting Slovenia would be an important player in the political arena in the next four years.

Andrej Magajna of the New Social Democrats likened today's agreement with the formation of the DEMOS coalition 30 years ago, adding that Connecting Slovenia would focus on creating conditions for a Slovenia as had been imagined by DEMOS.

Alojz Kovšca, the president of the National Council, the upper chamber of parliament, and vice-president of Concretely, complained that politics had turned into a competitive sport where teams win by disqualifying other teams from the race.

The signing was also attended by former Constitutional Court judge and presidential advisor Ernest Petrič, Education Minister Simona Kustec and physician Tina Bregant, a former state secretary at the Health Ministry.

Bregant said that the healthcare system needed to be reformed, and that the alliance advocated "sustainable, modern, efficient and emphatic public health."

Connecting Slovenia will run in the election with a joint list of candidates, on which the slots for individual parties will not be precisely determined, and not all parties will have the same number of candidates. Non-party candidates will also run.

According to the official spokesman Marko Balažic, candidacies by electoral district will be determined based on opinion poll results. "All five parties have decided to jointly endorse those who will be recognised as the best."

Čuš said the five parties were properly distributed geographically, which was "a great relief", and Kangler added that, while there were major discrepancies in the number of candidates from individual parties, "this is not bothersome for anyone."

Today's agreement signature is the first formal conformation of a joint list by parties for the April general election.

27 Jan 2022, 16:38 PM

STA, 27 January 2022 - Rok Snežič, a tax adviser with alleged links to Prime Minister Janez Janša, would not answer questions as he appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into alleged unlawful financing of Janša's Democratic Party (SDS) on Thursday. Nor did his wife Klavdija Snežič, formerly the largest shareholder of Nova24TV.

Rok Snežič told the inquiry from the outset that he would either decline to answer questions or respond by saying he did not remember, and then went on to explain he was not a public office holder and was not obliged to answer to the inquiry as it was not a court.

He would neither confirm nor deny his socialising with Janša on the ground that he did not remember. He said he was not under obligation to explain his relationship with his acquaintances or friends when asked about his links to Dijana Đuđić and other persons allegedly involved in contentious financial transactions.

Snežič served a sentence for tax evasion in the past, at the same prison that Janša was incarcerated in prior to the 2014 election before his sentence in the Patria defence bribery cases was quashed by the Constitutional Court.

Asked about Klemen Nicoletti, an owner of Majbert Pharm, the company picked by the state in late 2020 to supply roughly EUR 1 million worth of rapid tests for mass coronavirus screening, Snežič said he had nothing to do with "Instagram boys" and could not be their friend as he did not have an Instagram account.

He also claimed not remembering when asked about his advertising agency's dealings with the state-owned companies HSE, TEŠ and Pošta Slovenije.

He said he had been nicknamed tax evasion doctor because such was the subject of his doctoral thesis. He repeatedly urged the inquiry to present material evidence on his alleged business dealings.

Klavdija Snežič, who was accompanied by her legal counsel, invoked a provision allowing witnesses in parliamentary inquiry to decline answering questions if that could harm them or their relatives.

MPs inquired about her role as a former largest shareholder of Nova24TV, a media outlet with ties to the SDS. Jani Möderndorfer, an MP for the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), said she borrowed the money to buy the shares in cash from entrepreneurs Dražen Kuča.

The latter has failed for the third time to respond to an invitation for an interview, thus Möderndorfer proposed he be subpoenaed, which was endorsed.

Damjan Damjanovič, a former director of Nova24tv, also failed to appear for the interview, citing poor health.

The inquiry is looking into alleged money laundering at the NKBM bank by foreign citizens and their affiliates and alleged illegal financing of the SDS and suspected dealings of media publishers owned by the party prior to the 2018 election.

24 Jan 2022, 15:34 PM

STA, 24 January 2022 - Robert Golob, who has been ousted as chairman of energy trader Gen-I, has ended weeks of speculation about his future by announcing he will vie to become a president of a small non-parliamentary party this week to contest the general election in April. 

Z.Dej, a green party formed by former environment minister Jure Leben in May 2021, will hold a congress this Wednesday. "I hear the [presidential] post is vacant, this is the magic of adventure," Golob said on Monday as he presented the company's results.

The decision comes after Golob spent several weeks in talks with various party leaders, having already decided before that he would enter politics in one way or another.

A critic of particracy, he was initially sceptical of joining an existing party, but he recently acknowledged the realities of the Slovenian political system necessitated this type of political organisation.

Golob would not go into detail about his political plans and said the members of Z.Dej would hear about that first. "Out of respect, they should not learn that from the media. This is the only way I can expect respect from them as well."

The statement came at a press conference at which he talked at length about the success of Gen-I, a company he established and led since its inception, offering it as a model for how the country could be governed.

While he refused to answer many of the direct questions about his politics, he made repeated references to the election during the presentation, for example by noting that mistakes in the country would be "addressed in April" and saying that his next job will probably be in parliament - should the voters decide so.

He also referenced a "combination of seemingly impossible goals" of the kind that Gen-I achieved, and said the focus should be on green, digital as well as investment in people and the sharing of gains.

Golob thinks it is time to change political culture in the country. "Anger and fear lead to nothing but perdition," he said, noting that there would be "more light" come April.

"The man whose ultimate value it is to instil fear among the citizens will never be my interlocutor," he said, in an apparent reference to the current prime minister.

Golob was eased out of Gen-I in what the centre-left opposition and many media outlets have described as political staffing.

The company is still without a CEO and a court is currently deciding on several competing proposals for management. Golob was among the names put forward but he said today he had revoked his consent and would not be joining the company again.

11 Oct 2021, 11:21 AM

STA, 9 October 2021 - The opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) adopted a new programme on Saturday. The 15-point platform revolves around the welfare state supported by a strong economy, democracy and respect for the rule of law.

"Everything we do, we do for the people and their future," Party leader Alenka Bratušek said in her address to the delegates.

SAB, which describes itself as a social-liberal party, has put youths and pensioners at the top of its agenda.

It says pensioners deserve decent pensions, good long-term care and free mobility.

For youths, they advocate housing assistance with 500 new flats nationwide annually, simpler renting, and a universal basic income for those aged 18-25.

Another major segment of the programme deals with public healthcare, which the party says must be accessibly to all under equal terms. They advocate a clear division between public and private providers.

This should be supported by a strong and innovative economy, a friendly business environment open to domestic and foreign investors, fair taxation, and better corporate social responsibility.

The platform says strategically important state-owned companies must remain in state ownership.

Outside their core policies, they advocate sustainable public finances and sustainable development, as well as a stable national security system that will "support a peaceful policy underpinned by neighbourly relations".

The party wants to develop the common European security and defence policy and plans to advocate the development of "additional collective-security mechanisms" in NATO. They say Slovenia should regain leadership in Western Balkans.

The chapter on foreign policy states Slovenia should advocate a "free, secure and just EU," a stronger common foreign policy making the EU a stronger global player, continued EU enlargement, and a common approach to border protection.

The chapter on democracy and rule of law singles out respect for the principles of rule of law and protection of human rights and freedoms.

Bratušek said the party was aware it is difficult to work in present-day circumstances, but noted that she had already led the government once.

"My experience shows that people understand the difficult situation and are ready to cooperate, to understand the government when it must take difficult decisions, but only if someone explains to them why a certain measure is needed."

The delegates - just over 300 - were also addressed by representatives of sister parties in Renew Europe including Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta.

15 Sep 2021, 14:10 PM

STA, 15 September 2021 - Delegates of the coalition Modern Centre Party (Stranka modernega centra – SMC) will meet in Celje on Thursday for a congress at which party president Zdravko Počivalšek will seek support for a merger with the non-parliamentary GAS party and a tie-up with several other parties and lists for a joint list at the next general election.

Počivalšek, who serves as economy minister in the government of Janez Janša, will look to be given the mandate to merge the SMC with the Economically Active Party (Gospodarsko aktivna stranka – GAS), a pro-business party headed by National Council President Alojz Kovšca.

The plan is to create a liberal, business-oriented party, with the talks on the merger having been conducted in recent months, and to hold a merger congress by the end of the year. The new party would also get a new name.

The abbreviation SMC originally stood for the Miro Cerar Party, after its founder and former prime and foreign minister, with the name being changed later to the Modern Centre Party, keeping the same abbreviation.

According to the smallest party in the ruling coalition with five MPs, the new name is expected to shift the focus on the party being a political partner of the business sector.

At the congress, Počivalšek will seek a mandate to connect with some local parties and lists ahead of the next general election, scheduled to take place next year.

According to unofficial information, talks are being held, among others, with the list of Celje Mayor Bojan Šrot, several local parties, and the Greens of Slovenia, which is headed by former MP Andrej Čuš, now a state secretary of Počivalšek's.

The SMC is reportedly also open for talks to join Revive Slovenia, a project which features several parties, lists and individuals, including the People's Party (SLS). These talks are expected to be held at a later date.

All talks on cooperation and association are being held so that the diverse parties and lists create a joint slate for the next election.

It is expected, though, that the SMC as a parliamentary party will be the driving force, while the remaining parties would help out with a developed local network and locally prominent individuals.

The SMC is also expected to adopt guidelines for its platform for the next election, which include political partnership with the business sector and development for all regions.

What is probably a key congress and key election for the party comes after the SMC joined the Janez Janša government last spring after being part of the centre-left coalition led by Marjan Šarec, formed after the 2018 elections.

The party faced criticism for joining the coalition with the Democrats (SDS) after Šarec resigned, including internally, with as many as five MPs or half of the original number of SMC deputies in the National Assembly leaving the deputy group.

In the last year and a half, Počivalšek has faced allegations as economy minister of misconduct in the purchase of medical equipment in the early stages of the Covid-19 epidemic.

"After Šarec quit at the most difficult moment for our country, the SMC made a responsible move and was a motor of creation of the new government, which has tackled the health and economic crisis," Počivalšek told the STA ahead of the congress.

"Because it is precisely the SMC that holds the key to the current government, we have been the main target of attacks on it," he said, adding that "we have bled in this fight, but survived eventually."

Počivalšek said the SMC would be strengthened by new partners in allies so that it could succeed in the election campaign next year.

The SMC is currently barely registered in public opinion polls and ranks well below the threshold to enter the National Assembly.

The congress comes ahead of the imminent debates in parliament on the opposition-sponsored motions to oust two ministers from the SMC quota - Education Minister Simona Kustec and Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič.

31 Jul 2021, 09:28 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 30 July 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: New right-leaning party is being formed

STA, 30 July 2021 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest editorial that Prime Minister Janez Janša is working hard for a new right-leaning party that would present itself as centrist at the next general election. It says that the most likely candidate for leading such a party is Health Minister Janez Poklukar.

Despite the appearance that a new party is to emerge on the left, much more intensive work for a new party is under way on the right end of the political spectrum, says the paper, noting that Janša will need a third coalition partner besides New Slovenia if his Democrats (SDS) win the election.

Thus Janša is looking for a person that would seem different enough from him and acceptable to less engaged voters. Someone would give the impression he is willing to overcome the left-right divide.

"Increasingly many signs suggest Janša has already found such a person. Partly by chance, and partly it was planned: this is most probably the current health minister, Janez Poklukar, whom the previous Marjan Šarec-led coalition appointed the head of the Ljubljana UKC hospital."

He has experience in business, is a leader, a man who sees the public sector as a kind of company. His rhetoric significantly differs from the rudeness of other SDS politicians.

He has quickly climbed the popularity rankings and strikes people as a trustworthy person already because he is a doctor. He seems kind, moderate, acceptable.

He is not incompetent, as he has led UKC Ljubljana well, and is working hard as health minister.

However, Poklukar seems to have not even the slightest reservation towards Janša's actions in other fields. On the contrary, he faithfully serves Janša, and seems to have no problems with his interfering with the rule of law, harassing of certain groups of the population, Hungarisation, intolerance, attacks on the civil society and media.

The creation of a new party led by Poklukar has undoubtedly been backed by private insurers that are already leading the efforts for further privatisation of the Slovenian healthcare through his legislative proposals.

Creating Poklukar's party is thus a serious project that can succeed and that Janša is dependent on. If voters are fooled, the consequences will be very serious, warns Mladina in the commentary entitled New Party.

Demokracija: EU of overreach, betrayal of ideals

STA, 29 July 2021 - Looking at EU action against Hungary over its LGBT+ law, the right-wing weekly Demokracija argues in Thursday's commentary that this is about more than Hungary. "All EU countries will be punished if they resist," the magazine says in Bukovsky Was Right.

"The declaration of 'war' on Orban is merely a test for others who are in the cross-hairs just because of their conservative world view and because they dare to preserve the segment of their sovereignty that was never transferred to Brussels elites.

"This is why they face accusations of attacking minorities (sexual, racial), 'independent' media, divergence from the rule of law and other fabricated imputations," the commentator says.

Demokracija argues that fundamental EU documents clearly state that European culture is built on Christian foundations, whereas the new member states joined the bloc predominantly for economic reasons.

"What they are doing today at the Berlaymont is usurpation of power and a betrayal of the Europe of nations that is unprecedented in the history of the old continent.

"Core EU members (whatever that may mean) are far from the ideal of democracy and freedom as seen by countries that had spent decades suffering under Communist dictatorship."

All our posts in this series are here

19 Jun 2021, 11:30 AM

STA, 19 June 2021 - Janez Janša won another term at the helm of the Democratic Party (SDS) at a party congress in Slovenske Konjice on Saturday. He was endorsed by 650 of the 656 delegates as the only candidate for party head.


In his address after the vote, Janša thanked everyone who had organised the congress in challenging conditions. He pointed to the programme resolution adopted at the congress, which says that the party is already looking 30 years into the future.

While noting that his generation still had a lot to offer, he said a lot was expected from the party's youth wing in the coming years.

He said their time in the SDS, Slovenia and Europe was coming. "We know you are capable of accepting this challenge and that you will be up to the task."

He used the opportunity to point to 11 July and the referendum on the water act, saying that a yes vote would be a vote to protect drinking water. Those who will vote against will put drinking water in jeopardy, he said.

He said that those campaigning against the act were "more or less known names with known backgrounds", who had already bought plots on river banks, by the lakes and on the coast and were bothered by the act.

"Since people do not read acts it is our task to spread this truth among our team and convince them to vote in favour. We are the ones who are building, so we vote in favour," he stressed.

Janša said a challenging election year was ahead, so after a few months the team appointed today to party bodies would have to give their best.

He said that since many candidates were needed for elections, everyone would be given their chance.

SDS deputy group head Danijel Krivec said the committee's support to Janša had been expected. "There has always been some votes against and it was so this year as well, but the support was plebiscitary. We are happy with this result, all resolutions adopted and today's debate," he said after the congress.

The delegates at the 12th congress of the SDS adopted five programme resolutions addressing the problems of the youth and the elderly, and recognising the need for efforts for equal opportunities for both genders.

They also discussed a resolution entitled For Defence of the Constitutional Foundations of the Slovenian State, which warns of the danger of extremists and the Left. The document raised some dust in the past weeks, especially due to an assessment that any more tensions could lead to a civil war.

"We wished to warn that free functioning of anti-establishment movements, parties could create risks or lead to major political conflicts or even a civil war. We do not want that, that was just a warning," said SDS MEP Milan Zver.

He said some media had abused these statements in the past weeks, so some party committees had proposed that the controversial sections be scrapped but the delegates rejected this overwhelmingly.

The 62-year-old Janša, who is serving his third terms as prime minister, has been firmly at the helm of the SDS since 1993. Throughout this time, the party has always been at the top of party rankings.

He is the third SDS president of the party, which was initially called the Social-democratic Alliance of Slovenia and was renamed twice.

Its first president was France Tomšič, who led it between March 1989 and November 1989. He was succeeded by Jože Pučnik in 1989 - 1993.

Janša was elected party head at the congresses in 1993, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013, 2017 and 2021, and never had a rival except in 1993.


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