Parliament without opposition?
The leadership of the Social Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) are threatening to disassociate themselves from the subsidiary bodies of Parliament, because of a dispute over exactly which parties are in the majority and which are in the opposition. Eight parties are currently in Parliament, four of which form the governing coalition.
The dispute hinges on whether the Slovene Youth Party (SMS) is to be considered part of the opposition. The SMS is not a formal member of the coalition; however, it has signed an agreement of cooperation that has lead the leadership of the SDS and NSi to believe that the SMS cannot be considered part of the opposition.
The SDS and NSi maintain that opposition parties should have majorities in Parliament's oversight bodies. SDS and NSi leaders say that a parliamentary opposition cannot fulfill its role if it does not have control of the Commission for Oversight of the Work of Security and Information Services as well as the Commission for Oversight of the Budget and Public Finance.
However, the coalition members maintain that the opposition is in control of both bodies. Each has nine members, and five members of each have been drawn from the ranks of the opposition. The problem is that the "opposition," according to the coalition members, includes the SMS, while according to the SDS and NSi it does not.
In Slovenia, the opposition has only had control of the oversight bodies once, and that was last year while Andrej Bajuk (NSi) was Prime Minister. At that time, the opposition headed up the Commission for Oversight of the Budget and Public Finance.
The dispute has been sent to the Commission for Elections, Appointments and Administrative Questions (KVIAZ), which should pass down a decision early next week.
Whether the SMS is part of the opposition or not, it was announced on Tuesday that SMS leader Dominik S Černjak had been named to head the national Agency for Youth Affairs. The appointment ended a week of intense political wrangling, primarily among the SMS and the leadership of the youth branches of the other parliamentary parties.
Italian Slovenes running out of time
Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel made a visit to Italy this week in hopes of promoting the passage of the Law on the Global Protection of the Slovene Minority in Italy. Rupel met with Nicola Mancino, the president of the Senate, a supporter of the controversial law, who assured him that the law will soon be passed.
The law has been placed on the agenda for 25 and 31 January and 1 February. A final vote is expected for the 7 February. Nevertheless, optimists predict that it could take place as early as 1 February.
However, this could be the last chance for the law. Italy is preparing for parliamentary elections scheduled for April and, if the law is not passed in the current session, the parliamentary review must start again from scratch. If the right-wing parties, who are hotly protesting the law, do as well as is expected in the elections, it could dash any hope of passage.
Suicide Explosion in Maribor
On Saturday 13 January, the Maribor neighborhood of Tabor was rocked when one man's suicide attempt ended up destroying eight apartments. The man, identified as 39 year-old Drago M, was taken to the Maribor hospital where he is in stable condition. Police have discovered that Drago M has attempted suicide several times in the past year, when his wife died of a drug overdose.
A similar gas-powered suicide attempt was made last August in the same neighborhood, but the damage was much worse.
And in other news...
- On 8 February, Slovenia will renew its rail links with Hungary for the first time in 33 years. It was announced this week that construction on the cross-border rail link is complete and the first train will cross from Murska Sobota, Slovenia, into Hodosz, Hungary, on 8 February. Regular service will begin the following day. The link is part of the so-called Fifth Corridor, a railway that will eventually run from Barcelona through Slovenia and on to Kyiv.
- On 15 January, Maribor formally passed the title of Alpine City on to its next bearer, the German town of Bad Reichenhall. At a ress conference the same day, Mayor Boris Sovič appraised Maribor's experience as Alpine City 2000 as entirely positive. It was valuable for the promotion of the city, for expanding international cooperation and for the execution of several development projects. The full calendar of Alpine City 2000 events included environmental projects, cultural and tourism efforts and several exhibitions stressing Maribor's identity as an Alpine city.
- The latest work by Slovene director Tomaž Pandur will premier in Hamburg, Germany, on 20 January. The theatrical and musical project is called Inferno: The Book of the Soul and is a work in three parts modeled on Dante's Divine Comedy. With the project, Pandur continues his colaboration with Bosnian composer Goran Bregović. The pair were responsible for 1997's Silence of the Balkans, in Thesseloniki.
Brian J Požun, 19 January 2001
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