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Young leader hopes to take Greens back to parliament

Ljubljana, 17 May - The Greens, once a party that helped shape Slovenia's independence efforts, are hoping to get back to parliament in the 3 July election after spending around 20 years on the margin of the political arena.

Independent MP Andrej Čuš, now the president of the Greens, during his 2017 campaign to collect signatures in support of a bill to close stores on Sunday.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
File photo

The party elected Andrej Čuš, a 27-year MP who defected the opposition Democrats (SDS) in 2016, its president in March, when he replaced his father Vlado Čuš.

It also changed the name to Andrej Čuš and the Greens of Slovenia, to attract voters with a better-known face and promote a generational change.

Čuš made it to parliament in 2013 by replacing a disgraced SDS MP, and was re-elected in 2014.

He quit the SDS because of lack of democracy within the party and because of a deadlock in Slovenian politics which hinders progress, becoming an independent.

Several months later, a video went viral featuring Čuš at a cocaine-sniffing party, yet not taking drugs, which he believes was an attempt by the SDS to discredit him.

Although Čuš's SDS background is bound to position him right of the centre, he says he would like to surpass the ideological right-left divide.

The Greens thus formed a pre-election coalition with several small parties and NGOs, saying "the third bloc" will overcome the divide and join the new government.

Čuš, being both young and a judo athlete, has announced the Greens would promote policies helping the young and sport, also by setting up a new ministry.

Environmental policies remain in the focus of the Greens' efforts, or as their election manifesto says "protecting our planet is our basic value".

The party is thus against selling natural resources, and although it favours privatisation, infrastructure, energy and water companies must remain in state ownership.

It also wants to limit immigration. Indeed, Čuš has recently proposed a referendum to curb immigration and reject the EU's refugee quota system.

The party is against the EU assuming ever new powers, and would block Croatia's Schengen zone and OECD membership due to its non-cooperation in solving open bilateral issues.

It wants taxes to be lowered to the pre-crisis level; Čuš himself proposed last year a bill to reduce both VAT rates to the 2013 level.

In fighting for workers, the Greens would like to close stores on Sundays, which Čuš has recently tried to do by submitting a special bill to parliament.

However, judging by opinion polls, the party will have a hard time passing the 4% threshold to enter parliament, polling consistently well below it.

In their hayday, however, the Greens were one of the parties in the DEMOS coalition, which won the first multi-party elections in April 1990; they won almost 9% of the vote.

Its first president was Dušan Plut, who however left as early as 1993, claiming that a rightist political agenda started to dominate the party.

Plut, a university professor, was also one of the five members elected in April 1990 to the then collective presidency of Slovenia.

The Greens also had a minister. Architect Miha Jazbinšek was environment and spatial planning minister in May 1990-February 1994, and has co-written one of the major privatisation bills.

© STA, 2018