May 19, 2022

Počivalšek seeks to merge SMC with pro-business political party (background)

STA, September 15, 2021 – Delegates from the Modern Center Party coalition (Modern srankaga centra – SMC) will meet in Celje on Thursday for a congress in which party chairman Zdravko Počivalšek will seek to support a merger with the non-parliamentary party GAS and a rapprochement with several other parties and lists for a joint list in the next election general. election.

Počivalšek, who is Economy Minister in Janez Janša’s government, will seek the mandate to merge the SMC with the Economically Active Party (Gospodarsko aktivna stranka – GAS), a pro-business party led by the President of the National Council Alojz Kovšca.

The plan is to create a business-oriented liberal party, as merger talks have taken place in recent months, and to hold a merger convention by the end of the year. The new party would also get a new name.

The abbreviation SMC originally stood for the Miro Cerar Party, after its founder and former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, the name being later changed to Modern Center Party, keeping the same abbreviation.

According to the smallest party in the ruling coalition with five MPs, the new name should shift attention to the party as a political partner in business.

At the congress, Počivalšek will seek a mandate to connect with some local parties and lists ahead of the next general elections, which are expected to take place next year.

According to unofficial information, talks are underway, among others, with the list of the mayor of Celje Bojan Šrot, several local parties and the Greens of Slovenia, led by former deputy Andrej Čuš, now state secretary from Počivalšek.

The SMC is also said to be open to talks to join Revive Slovenia, a project that brings together several parties, lists and individuals, including the People’s Party (SLS). These talks are expected to take place at a later date.

All discussions on cooperation and association are carried out so that the various parties and lists form a common list for the next elections.

However, the SMC, as a parliamentary party, is expected to be the driving force, while the other parties would help through a developed local network and local figures.

The SMC is also expected to adopt guidelines for its platform for the upcoming elections, which include political partnership with the business sector and the development of all regions.

What is likely a key congress and a key election for the party comes after the SMC joined Janez Janša’s government last spring after being part of the center-left coalition led by Marjan Šarec, formed after the elections of 2018.

The party has been criticized for joining the coalition with the Democrats (SDS) after arec resigned, including internally, with up to five MPs or half of the original number of SMC MPs in the National Assembly leaving the group of deputies.

Over the past year and a half, Počivalšek has faced allegations as Minister of the Economy of misconduct in purchasing medical equipment at the start of the Covid-19 epidemic.

“After Šarec left at the most difficult time for our country, the SMC took a responsible decision and was the driving force behind the creation of the new government, which tackled the health and economic crisis,” said Počivalšek at the STA before the congress.

“Because it is precisely the SMC that holds the key to the current government, we have been the main target of attacks against it,” he said, adding that “we have bled in this fight, but we have finally survived “.

Počivalšek said the SMC will be reinforced by new allied partners so that it can succeed in next year’s election campaign.

The SMC is currently barely registered in opinion polls and ranks well below the threshold for entering the National Assembly.

The congress precedes the impending debates in parliament on opposition-sponsored motions to oust two ministers from the SMC quota – Education Minister Simona Kustec and Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič.