Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has survived a vote of no confidence in parliament for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The conservative politician has been accused by the opposition of using the health crisis to undermine the rule of law and weaken institutions.
But after a secret vote in the country’s National Assembly late on Monday, Janša garnered enough support to stay in power.
He was supported by just 40 deputies in the 90-seat chamber, with a majority of 46 needed to overthrow the government. Seven of the 53 votes cast voted against, while another six were invalid.
The country’s opposition has only 43 seats and was relying on votes from the Modern Center Party (SMC), a coalition partner, to support the motion.
Karl Erjavec, leader of the opposition party DESUS, had previously told lawmakers that they were choosing between “an authoritarian democracy and a normal, constitutional and democratic Slovenia”.
DESUS lawmakers also stated that the motion was necessary to “put Slovenia back on the right track” and move closer to the “core” values of the European Union.
After the result of the vote, Erjavec said he “regretted having received only 40 votes” and said he expected “more”.
“The time for change has not yet come,” he added, saying that it will now be up to voters to evaluate the government’s policy in next year’s elections.
It was the second attempt to remove the prime minister in a matter of weeks after a similar motion was withdrawn in January due to the absence of elected representatives. Several MPs were quarantined after testing positive for the coronavirus, compromising the opposition’s chances of securing the 46 votes they had needed.
The latest motion against the government was tabled last week by five center-left opposition parties, with Erjavec nominated as the candidate for head of government.
Janša dismissed the opposition accusations during Monday’s debate, calling the motion a “destructive sham” and a “waste of taxpayers’ time and money.”
“Our government has done much more than the previous one, in much less time, under more difficult epidemic conditions,” said Jansa.
After ruling Slovenia twice in the 2000s, Janša returned to power in early March to lead a new coalition after the previous five-party government collapsed in January 2020 over internal disputes.
His government had previously lost a parliamentary majority when the DESUS party decided to leave in December.
The prime minister has frequently attacked the country’s media on Twitter, and opponents have also raised concerns about ties to the populist Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orban.
Slovenia has registered more than 3,650 deaths since the start of the pandemic, with around 176 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, although the cases have decreased in recent days.
The country will assume the six-month presidency of the European Union in four months.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism