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The Reconstruction Of The Government Fell Through; Golob Has Once Again Misled The Public

Just before the November holidays, Prime Minister Robert Golob announced a reconstruction of the government. The aim was to move from a government with a record number of ministries to a lean government, following the Swiss model, with seven ministries. Or twelve. The public expected that this would be the subject of debate at the coalition meeting on Thursday. But after the press conference, it quickly became clear that reconstruction, like many reforms before it, would not happen. The reconstruction of the government was not even discussed at the meeting on Thursday.

However, the members of the coalition were talking about reforms. “It is not realistic to expect reforms to materialise in such a short time. We will review the commitments in the coalition agreement and communicate this to the public – which commitments have been fulfilled, which will be fulfilled next year, and which will be fulfilled later,” the Prime Minister said. It is important to note here that the election happened in April 2022. Since then, the Golob government has not implemented one single major reform. But they talk a lot about them to give people a false sense that the government is working well and hard.

Golob also spoke about when they plan to address the healthcare situation. He said that no one had reneged on commitments in this area, but they had said goodbye to a minister who had acted contrary to the coalition agreement. “He probably had good intentions, but they did not work out. That is why we have not only changed the ministerial team, but also the way to get the measures implemented. Upcoming measures will be presented by the end of the year,” he announced. However, the public has still not found out when exactly the healthcare workers and patients can expect a real debate and the final implementation of the measures.

However, it was clear from the statements made by ministers Tanja Fajon (Social democrats – SD) and Asta Vrečko (the Left party) at the press conference that government representatives did discuss the structure of the government itself at the meeting, too. For example, Fajon said, “Today, we discussed in a critical but respectful tone how to improve the functioning of this coalition and government for the benefit of the people. We agreed that this coalition is the only possible coalition.”

But apparently, an exit of the Left party from the coalition was also on the table. Vrečko said that the Left party remained “firm partners in the coalition, because we stand by the commitments we made to the people when we entered government.”

Criticism of the government that deals with the opposition and itself

Over the past months, the coalition has faced criticism that it is mainly concerned with the opposition and itself, while citizens are suffering from poverty, a collapsing healthcare service, and parts of the country are facing extremely high levels of damage left behind by storms and floods. The Prime Minister’s announcements that the government would have to be reconstituted were not welcomed.

In recent weeks, the Social Democrats have warned that reconstructing the government would mean, above all, the government dealing with itself even more. The government currently has 19 ministries. Four ministries are currently run by the Social Democrats, three by the Left party, and the rest by the Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda). According to some indications, a proposal was tabled to reduce the number of ministries to 12, with the Freedom Movement party controlling eight ministries and the two smaller coalition partners each controlling two. One could speculate, for example, that the Left would lose the Ministry of Solidarity-Based Future, which could be merged with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, and that the Social Democrats might lose the Ministry of Cohesion and Regional Development, which has been the target of frequent criticism in recent days for its failure to draw European Union funds.

However, according to public statements, none of the minority parties in the coalition expressed the necessary support for reconstruction. The media outlet N1 had already reported before the coalition meeting, according to sources from the Freedom Movement party, that without a minimum willingness from the Social Democrats party and the Left party, they would not insist on reconstruction at any cost. In addition, the reconstruction would not be possible at all until at least December because of the result of last year’s referendum. Since the smaller coalition parties would lose out in a possible reconstruction, it is clear why they do not support it. Golob has thus clearly caved in to pressure from his coalition partners, and the Slovenian public has once again been misled.

The government of timelines

From the very beginning, the government of Robert Golob has been criticised for its inefficiency and disorganised functioning. The government spent its first year mainly fighting the opposition. Once the purge of the so-called “Janšaists” in the police and the national media outlet was over, the purge turned inwards. Mojca Šetinc Pašek, a prominent MP, was recently expelled from the Freedom Movement party, and Urška Klakočar Zupančič, the Speaker of the National Assembly, lost her position as the aforementioned party’s Vice-President. Many of the promises made before the elections have not materialised. Slovenia is suffering from rising prices, from the severe damage left behind by floods and storms, and the healthcare sector is in urgent need of a reform that will reduce waiting times, fill up specialist wards again, and ensure that thousands of people can once again see a personal doctor. As MP Prednik pointed out yesterday, the government has also promised to reform the public sector wage system, a tax reform, the construction of 30,000 new housing units, etc. None of the promised reforms have been implemented so far – and in the case of tax reform, many hope that it will not be implemented at all. So far, all the proposals that have been leaked to the public have foreseen new tax burdens. The government has thus become known for its “timelines” – plans that have so far failed to bear fruit.

Ž. K.

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