Slovenian left intensifies campaign against military spending

The right-wing dominated Slovenian National Assembly last week voted down the left-supported citizens’ initiative calling for a national referendum on the government’s plan for carrying out massive military expenditure

December 05, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Slovenian protests
Cadres of the left-wing Levica demonstrate against the massive military expenditure planned by the government in Slovenia.

In Slovenia, the left-wing Levica party has intensified its campaign against the massive military expenditure planned by the incumbent right-wing government in the country. On Wednesday, December 2, Levica organized an online deliberation by its parliamentary deputy leader Matej Tašner Vatovec on the possibilities of conducting a national referendum on the issue and denounced the government’s unwillingness for the same. On November 27, despite strong opposition from Levica, the right-wing majority Slovenian National Assembly voted against a national referendum on the proposed military spending.

The government led by Janez Janša of the right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) had proposed a bill in the National Assembly to earmark 780 million Euros (USD 925.28 million) for the Slovenian Armed Forces. This amount would be used from 2021 to 2026 to procure equipment and arms for two medium-sized battalions that would serve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Levica slammed this proposal as unwanted and called for a consultative referendum on the arms purchase. Several opinion polls have also indicated that most people in the country are against the government’s plan.

On November 27, prior to the vote on the referendum in the National Assembly, Vatovec stated, “today’s vote is not just about one referendum. But for the question if Slovenia is still a democratic country. We will defend democracy and the right to the referendum until the end. You won’t shut us down.”

Earlier, a citizens’ initiative demanding a referendum on the proposed military expenditure received around 28,551 endorsements within a week. Following the vote on November 27, Levica leader Luka Mesec said, “MPs just un-constitutionalized the request of 28,551 people for a referendum of 780 million, which of course we will appeal to the Constitutional Court.”

The citizens initiative highlighted that despite there being no threat of military aggression against Slovenia, the Janša government is buying weapons to fulfill the non-binding promises of the political establishment at closed-door NATO meetings to increase military spending, without any mandate of the people.

Levica has also given a call to intensify the citizens’ initiative for a referendum by collecting 40,000 signatures from citizens of the country. Earlier, cadres of Levica demonstrated in front of the National Assembly and read out the names of the people who had endorsed the citizens initiative for a referendum.