LJUBLJANA – Defence minister leaves government

Hours after former Defence Minister Karl Erjavec and long-time party leader of the pensioner’s party (DeSUS-Re) lost the party presidency to Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec on Saturday (18 January), he announced his resignation on Sunday, adding he would also be quitting public life to spend more time with his family. 

Erjavec was the only politician who had been a minister in all right and left-wing governments since 2004. He had been party president of DeSUS-Re from 2005 and had served as defence minister, environment minister and foreign affairs minister. He was also an adamant supporter of pensioners’ rights, who had given him solid support in the elections.

He was also known as a “Teflon” minister. For instance, during his time as defence minister in 2008, Finnish TV uncovered corruption with regard to the buying of Patria vehicles. While the prime minister of the time, Janez Janša, ended up in jail, Erjavec was not even part of the judicial process.

As a minister, he was regarded as the weakest link in every coalition. For instance, he was seen as the one responsible for overturning the government of Borut Pahor in 2011. And in the current coalition, he was dissatisfied with his position and afraid that Prime Minister Marjan Šarec would kick him out of the government.

The primary process in Slovenian political theatre is an effort to round up liberal parties. Four of them are in the coalition: LMŠ, SAB, SMC and DeSUS. Slovenia has a strong centre-right and centre liberal electoral body. SDS and NSi are on the first pole, and four governing parties on the second. Joined together they can easily win elections and could be a bigger partner in the coalition with social democrats. That was, in basic lines, a situation from 1992 until 2004. Now Šarec has an excellent starting position for fulfilling that plan. Erjavec was an obstacle. 

Although some MPs were strongly in favour of Erjavec, it is safe to say that they will not cause too much of a stir because this could cost them a spot on the election list. However, the difficult task will be to find a new defence minister from DeSUS. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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