The center-right coalition government led by Prime Minister Janez Jansa (Slovenian Democratic Party, SDS) will likely survive the motion of no confidence scheduled for 15 February. The vote’s outcome will increase the probability of the SDS-led cabinet lasting until the end of the term in mid-2022. It could also encourage the government to deepen its illiberal agenda and rhetoric. On the other hand, if the motion succeeds, the leader of the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS), Karl Erjavec, will get a chance to form a wide center-left coalition government.
The motion was initiated on 10 February by five center-left opposition parties united under the banner of the Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), which accuse the Jansa’s coalition government of undermining the constitution, mishandling the Covid-19 pandemic, and damaging Slovenia’s international reputation. The motion needs the backing of an absolute majority of deputies (46) in the 90-seat parliament to succeed.
Based on the previous censure motion tabled in January – withdrawn due to a Covid-19 outbreak in parliament – the opposition can rely on 42 votes. The motion’s backers hope that some deputies from the ruling camp – or its supporters – will switch sides encouraged by the secret ballot. However, defections from the ruling SDS and its junior coalition partner center-right New Slovenia appear unlikely. Moreover, while the center-left Modern Centre Party (SMC) is generally considered a weak link in the governing coalition, a potential snap parliamentary election would be an undesirable scenario for SMC considering its low approval ratings. Meanwhile, the two national minority deputies in parliament tend to back whoever is in power, and the right-wing Slovenian National Party is unlikely to back the center-left opposition. As a result, Jansa has a good chance (70% probability) of surviving the no-confidence motion.
An unsuccessful motion would raise the probability of the SDS-led government serving until the end of the term in mid-2022. It could also embolden Jansa to deepen his grip on power via greater leverage over media, reduced support for civil society, and continued attacks on political opponents. Perhaps the greatest risk to democratic institutions is the proposed media financing reform, which would cut funding to the public broadcaster and the state news agency, likely at the expense of greater support for private media channels like the SDS-controlled Nova24TV. However, Jansa’s minority government has so far failed to secure parliamentary support for the controversial reform. Jansa’s populist rhetoric and illiberal intentions could attract greater international attention during Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of 2021.
In case the KUL manages to vote the Jansa government out of office (30% probability), the DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec would become a prime minister-designate and have 15 days to present a new cabinet for approval in parliament by a simple majority. If confirmed, the Erjavec cabinet would focus on the EU presidency, handling the pandemic, and economic recovery. However, his wide center-left coalition government would face challenges to survive until the end of the term due to internal rivalries. Should Erjavec’s efforts to form (or maintain) the new government fail, an early general election would become the most likely scenario.