Slovenian constitutional court stays massive arms procurement proposal by government

The right-wing government in Slovenia had planned the procurement of arms worth EUR 780 million for the military to cater to NATO. This had strongly been opposed by the left which had called the proposal unwarranted

January 12, 2021 by Peoples Dispatch
Arms deal -Slovenia

On Sunday, January 11, Slovenia’s constitutional court stayed the right-wing government’s bid for massive arms procurement. Leftist sections had criticized the deal saying it was meant to cater to the needs of  NATO. The court ordered the government led by Janez Janša to hold back from instituting a law to secure EUR 780 million (USD 925.28 million) for the planned arms purchase for the Slovenian military. The left party Levica, which has vehemently opposed the arms deal, hailed the verdict as a victory for their campaign and called it a serious blow to the government which had prevented a national referendum on the deal. Levica also gave a call to intensify the citizens’ initiative for a referendum by collecting 40,000 signatures from the citizens of the country. 

The government led by Janša’s Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) had proposed a bill in the National Assembly to earmark EUR 780 million for the Slovenian armed forces. This amount would be used between 2021 to 2026 to procure equipment and arms for two medium-sized battalions that would serve NATO. Levica opposed this bill stating the arms purchase proposal was unwanted and called for a consultative referendum on the issue. Several opinion polls also indicated that most Slovenians were against the government’s plan. Despite strong opposition from Levica, the right-wing majority Slovenian National Assembly voted against a national referendum on the proposed military spending on November 27 last year.

On Sunday, Levica leader Luka Mesec said, “The Constitutional Court today ruled in our favor and stayed the implementation of the 780 million gun procurement law. This means [defense] minister [Matej] Tonin will not be allowed to buy these weapons until the verdict of the constitutional court, nor conclude contracts. This is a serious reminder to the undemocratic government that they can’t just ban the referendum because they are afraid to lose it (because 75% of the public opposes the law), but is also a warning that we still have a constitution in Slovenia, democracy and inalienable political rights.”

He added that Levica has sent several constitutional judgement requests to the constitutional court, saying, “If the court in the next stage finds that we are right, they will either allow the referendum or the law will be repealed.