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The Coalition Wants To Reduce The Power Of The National Assembly With The Help Of New Slovenia Party

MPs of the New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi), together with MPs from the Freedom Movement (Gibanje Svoboda) and the Social Democrats (Socialni demokrati – SD), have tabled a proposal to amend the Constitution in the area of procedures for appointing the government. The proposers claim that the amendments to the Constitution strengthen the autonomy of the judiciary and the role of the Prime Minister in the procedure of appointment of ministers. Despite the fact that the Prime Minister would have more power in deciding on ministers and that it is clear that they are thereby reducing their own powers, according to Janez Cigler Kralj of the NSi party, they are actually strengthening the supervisory function of the National Assembly, which is completely contradictory to what is actually happening. Branko Grims, leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) group of MPs, which did not contribute signatures for the launch of the procedure, stressed that the SDS party “will certainly not support the current proposal, because the proposal as such is not acceptable to the SDS.”

“To claim that by abolishing individual interpellations in a particular area, to which time is devoted, control would actually be increased, demands a rather peculiar sense of humour,” said SDS MP Branko Grims on the show Odmevi (Echoes) on RTV Slovenia. His comment came after Janez Cigler Kralj highlighted the abolition of the interpellation against an individual as one of the proposed constitutional amendments. The interpellation could thus only happen if it were an interpellation of the whole government, which would reduce the oversight function, not increase it, as they claim in the NSi party.

Cigler Kralj said that by changing the procedure for appointing ministers, they were trying to change the system into a modern and parliamentary system, which might even be closer to the German system, saying that with this, we would actually be following Germany’s lead. However, it seems that in the NSi party, they are not aware that the German system is not fully parliamentary and that their system is not the most suitable for Slovenia, as Cigler Kralj was informed by MP Grims.

They would abolish individual interpellations and thus remove the focus from the specific problem

The amendment would abolish the possibility of interpellations of individual ministers and bring in the possibility of interpellations of the whole government. They claim that this would increase the National Assembly’s oversight function, but this is not actually the case. By filing an interpellation against the whole government, attention is no longer focused on a specific problem and is instead dispersed among everyone. The NSi party have clearly identified with the left, which likes collectivism. “If the interpellation against an individual minister is abolished, in practice, that would mean that you have no possibility to shed light on one particular problem, because everything gets blurred with the focus on the whole government, and that is why it is better to keep this option in Slovenia in this situation. This strengthens the oversight function of the National Assembly,” Grims said, noting that the interpellation is sometimes misunderstood, “it can also lead to a vote of dismissal, a vote of no-confidence, but that is not always the case, as it is primarily about highlighting a topic that is acute, topical and important for people’s lives,” Grims said.

Most people agree with Grims’s claims, including political analyst Miro Haček, who commented on Twitter, “Only the very naive and politically short-sighted see and present the abolition of the possibility to file an interpellation against an individual minister as an increase in the control of the National Assembly over the government.”

Under the proposed amendments, the law would also no longer regulate the number of ministries, but would be the responsibility of each government coalition, and the law would regulate the competencies and areas of work of both the government and the individual ministries. “It establishes a quasi-presidential system, which is completely unnecessary. If the President of the Republic approving ministers is a mere formality, such a proposal is unnecessary, and the Prime Minister himself could do it,” he said. Grims believes that the proposal would bring in the presidential system through the back door, which is a fundamental change from the existing legal system and “the real question here is who are you doing a favour with this,” the SDS MP said.

“Our proposed mechanisms are very simple and straightforward, but above all, they are fair to the people and good for democracy. We would certify the whole team, the Prime Minister, all the ministers, and the people would know exactly what is at stake, but we would no longer vote separately for the Prime Minister in the National Assembly, because that is unnecessary, and under their proposal, that is exactly what remains. The fair thing to do would be to come up with a programme, a man and a team, and the same could be done with the question of the interpellations,” he said.

Grims agrees that sooner or later, a system could be reached in which the entire government, including the prime minister and ministers, would be approved by a majority, because he sees no reason “to elect the prime minister first and then appoint the ministers, as is the case now,” Grims said. According to the proposed amendments, the law would also no longer regulate the number of ministries, as that would instead be the responsibility of each successive government coalition. Instead, the law would regulate the competencies and areas of work of the government as well as the work of the individual ministries.

Ana Horvat

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