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United Left brings socialist ideas, some confusion

Ljubljana, 17 May - The lists of parties or coalitions to emerge ahead of the pending general election includes the United Left, an offshoot of the original United Left (ZL) whose name has been formally claimed by political veteran Franc Žnidaršič. The proponent of socialist values has joined forces with former Social Democratic MP Janko Veber.

Ljubljana
Representatives of the United Left - Democratic Labour Party (ZL-DSD) presenting the coalition's election platform.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The United Left - Democratic Labour Party (ZL-DSD), which will share the slate with Veber's recently established Unity party, is unlikely to make it to parliament, polling at around 1% and remaining without candidates in one of the eight electoral units over gender quota requirements.

It could, however, exceed the 1% threshold securing parties public funding and, more significantly, the name confusion could chip away votes from the Left, the successor of the ZL, which has been polling among the top five parties.

The new United Left is the brainchild of Žnidaršič, the former deputy group head of the powerful Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), who formed his own party, the Democratic Party of Labour (DSD), in 2010.

The DSD became part of the ZL coalition before the 2014 election and while one of its members, Violeta Tomić, made it to parliament, she later left the party.

Amid infighting in the ZL in 2016, Žnidaršič renamed his party The United Left - Democratic Labour Party, arguing he needed to "protect [our] indisputable contribution in the formation and success of the ZL".

According to Žnidaršič, the party wants systemic changes in the management of state-owned assets, with half of members of management and supervisory boards featuring representatives of employees and trade unions. Just like DeSUS, the ZL-DSD also wants a part of state assets to be transferred to the pension fund.

It advocates a "fairer tax system" in which taxes on capital, real estate and profit would be higher, and proposes abolition of the balanced budget rule and the introduction of financial police.

It would limit the wage ratio in state-owned companies to 1:5, ban work through temping agencies, and raise the minimum wage to a level which would bring the lowest pension for full-time work above the poverty threshold.

Žnidaršič has called for investments in non-profit apartments and reform of the healthcare system, which would put primary care in focus. The party, which is also highlighting environmental issues, is committed to zero tolerance to corruption, hate speech and crime.

The coalition includes another former smaller member of the original ZL alliance, called the Fourth Group and consisting mainly of activists.

The Fourth Group has argued for changes to the electoral system which would give voters more power in picking candidates, for example with preference vote, and an option to recall all holders of public office.

The coalition is calling for democratisation of EU governance and protection of Slovenia's sovereignty within the bloc. It has called for the country's immediate withdrawal from NATO and for enforcement of the WWII-related debt from Germany.

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© STA, 2018