Economy Minister Han elected president of the Social Democrats

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Ljubljana, 14 April - Economy Minister Matjaž Han has been elected president of the Social Democrats (SD), narrowly beating MEP Milan Brglez in a 182:172 vote at a party congress Saturday night.

Matjaž Han delivers the acceptance speech after he is elected president of the Social Democrats.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Matjaž Han delivers the acceptance speech after he is elected president of the Social Democrats.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Candidate for SD head Matjaž Han.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Han, who served as MP for almost two decades prior to his stint as minister is seen as a representative of the party's pro-business wing that has been criticised by many of late as having forgotten social democratic ideals in favour of political pragmatism.

Brglez had meanwhile promised a return to old-style social democratic ideals.

The 53-year-old Han joined the race just a day before the congress, which earned him criticism from the congress delegates, but he brushed that aside saying that "I didn't know I was the main problem, I though the [party's] two million euro debt was."

In his speech to the congress, he said the party had to remain what it had always been, "a guardian of democracy, human rights and honesty."

He thinks the SD must play a more important role in government and sees it as one of his advantages that he can "talk to everyone," a reference to speculations in the run-up to the congress that his election would mean the party would be open to a coalition with the right-wing Democrats (SD).

However, he added that "I absolutely see the SD in centre-left governments."

In his acceptance speech Han said he was "truly ready" to push the party forward. He said he herd all the critical voices but now was the time to unite the party, something he said Brglez acknowledged as well.

"Without us continuing together as I wish, social democracy will have no future ... I will try my best that we will truly work together as friends and comrades."

The party held the unscheduled congress after it tanked in the rankings following a scandal involving the purchase of a court building in Ljubljana that exposed potential corruption of several senior members of the party.

The scandal led first to the resignation of Dominika Švarc Pipan, the justice minister, and then to the decision of Tanja Fajon, not to vie for the party presidency again. Fajon endorsed Han at the outset of the congress.

The party elected not just the president but the entire leadership. The four new vice-presidents are MEP Matjaž Nemec, MP Meira Hot, Justice Minister Andreja Katič and the president of the youth wing. Luka Goršek.

The powerful post of the secretary general has been entrusted to Živa Živkovič, who has spent the last ten years as party and deputy group aide.

She succeeds Klemen Žibert, who resigned due to the Ljubljana courthouse scandal, having been singled out by the former justice minister as the man who masterminded the botched purchase.

© STA, 2024