“The government should be dealing with urgent matters all the time, even in times of floods,” Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) President Janez Janša said on a recent episode of the show Odmevi (Echoes), referring to the work of the government. He recalled that in the two years of his government’s mandate, despite the Covid-19 crisis, they had carried out a mini-tax reform, adopted the first legislative package for de-bureaucratisation, which had made it much easier for people and the economy to do business, and in many other matters had carried out the necessary routine business to keep life moving forward. “The floods cannot be an excuse for not taking care of other urgent things, especially when you have an opposition that is not obstructive,” he was clear.
At the beginning of the show, Janez Janša spoke about the status of MP Anže Logar in the SDS party, saying that it remained the same. Regarding the allegations by some that Logar was sitting on two chairs, he said that this was clearly not the case. “Two chairs are only being brought up by the media. From a formal point of view, he is not sitting on two chairs, because this platform is an association. As long as it is a platform that organises debates on pressing issues, that is a welcome addition. But if this platform were to turn into a list and go to the elections, then it is clear that you can only stand on one list.”
The leader of the largest opposition party believes that the nervousness in the media about potential appearances in the European elections is a bit premature. The European elections are currently a little less than a year away. “There has never been tension about the European elections until a few months before.” Regarding the SDS party candidacy in the European elections, he said, “It is in the interest of any party to have people in the European Parliament who have been there before and can achieve something. This cannot be achieved in one year. The most prominent European parties have MEPs in the European Parliament for five, six or even ten terms. Europe is a bit wider than Slovenia, so the criteria are different here. It is in the SDS’s interest that both current MEPs run again.” Whether they will be registered is still up in the air, as the process had only started on Saturday, and the list will not be completed this year.
The Slovenian People’s Party (Slovenska ljudska stranka – SLS) recently proposed that all three parties on the right should go to the elections together. When asked whether this was possible in the context of the party’s relationship with the New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi), Janša said that the party’s position was somewhat delicate. “Abroad, they call it “useful opposition”. This is a party that is formally in the opposition, but selectively criticises the government, and in return gets certain benefits – like seats on the supervisory boards of state-owned companies.” He said this makes cooperation difficult, especially as the NSi party has usurped key control functions that logically belong to the largest opposition party. “This is not the main issue when it comes to the question of a joint performance in the European elections. We have a proportional electoral system, and it is wise for everyone who can get over the threshold to stand on their own, because that way a better electoral result is achieved.” If there were a majority system, he thinks the logic would be different, and it would be foolish to stand separately. According to Janša, the SDS party is willing to cooperate with the SLS party in the European and national elections, as the party has not managed to get into the parliament for some time.
No serious entrepreneur sets out to raise funds and take out loans until they know how much money they will actually need
As the SDS party showed a great deal of unity after the floods and then failed to support the adoption of the intervention law, the question was raised whether this meant the end of the truce. “When it comes to the very essence of the SDS’s position or attitude towards cooperation with the government in dealing with the consequences of the floods, nothing has changed. We have supported all the good measures and will continue to do so.” He pointed out that the problem with the intervention law was that the government had also added financial resources for reconstruction into it, while there was still no reconstruction law. “First, they said it would be prepared by the end of this month, but now we are hearing that it should be ready by the end of this year. So, there is enough time to make a serious assessment of the damage and, on that basis, to have a serious discussion about where to get the money to repair the damage and rebuild Slovenia.”
The SDS party is acting in a cooperative manner because we do it for Slovenia
Janša believes that the rush to tax at this time was completely unnecessary, and this is not only the opinion of the SDS party, but of the wider public and the economy as well. “No serious entrepreneur sets out to raise funds and take out loans until they know how much money they will actually need.” He also said that if they do not like something that is proposed, they will not try to bring down the government, cycle, protest or rally in front of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, which is what the left did when we were in a more difficult situation in the time of the Covid-19 crisis. “Imagine if now, when we experienced these floods, we had no shovels, no gloves, no diggers. We were in that situation during the Covid-19 crisis, and that situation was much worse, and we did not have the opposition’s sympathy in adopting the right measures. The SDS party is now acting in a cooperative manner, in a different way, because we are doing this for Slovenia, not for the government, not for the opposition,” he was clear.
Regarding the cooling of the economy in Europe and Slovenia, and the fact that the indices were downgraded, he said that he had been worried about this for some time because, given his experience, he did not believe the infamous forecasts, and not even the official data in the spring forecast of the Institute of Macroeconomic Analyses and Development. “Now it turns out that those figures were wrong. These large deviations in the GDP figures for last year are unusual. The last time I saw something like that was during the Greek debt crisis, when Greece fudged the statistics to get into the eurozone, and this was later discovered.” He believes that this is probably due to the fact that last year, due to some unwise moves by the government, a large part of the Slovenian economy paid a much higher price for energy products in general than some others. “The statistics were probably tracking those who had long-standing contracts. Otherwise, I cannot imagine this difference, which in monetary terms amounts to 2 billion euros. With this lower base, the government’s budget planning for the coming years will also be extremely challenging – and especially with the economy cooling down,” he commented.
Now is not the time for the government to play monopolist in the energy market
That is why the government should get the money wherever it can before further taxation is introduced. So, it should get the money from items that are not essential. “This is not the time for the government to play the monopolist on the energy market and use state money to make all sorts of props for someone who wants to return to the state economy or to a privatised electricity economy after the end of their mandate.” He believes that the government should always deal with urgent matters, even in times of floods. He says that he has not seen anyone from the Ministry of Health dealing with the floods, because it is mainly the three relevant ministries and the government that are dealing with the flood consequences, which is only right. “It will be a priority for some time, but it is not the only priority. In the two years that we were in office, despite the Covid-19 crisis, we carried out a mini-tax reform, adopted the first legislative package for de-bureaucratisation, which had made it much easier for people and the economy to do business, and in many other matters had carried out the necessary routine business to keep life moving forward. The floods cannot be an excuse for not taking care of other urgent things, especially when you have an opposition that is not obstructive,” Janša concluded.