Three Presidents and Vojmir Urlep

Marjan Šarec probably does not remember, and maybe no one even told him, or he even just overlooked that he was not the first to whom that proposal came into mind. It is not about attributing too high significance to the question of who was really the first author of the idea; it is only a remembering of at which attempts this has failed so far.

It is understood that the mandatary Šarec, in a pile of tasks, adjustments and discussions during the establishment of a new government coalition, found the idea good and almost the only one that should be negotiated about with the new government members.

Thus, in the middle of last month, he announced that Vojmir Urlep, a prominent member of his party, former president of the administration of the pharmaceutical company “Lek”, was not a candidate for the new minister of finance, but that he would offer him the position of the coordinator of the work of individual ministries in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet.

Dr Janez Drnovšek, and later, Borut Pahor, sought for a similar solution, but without success.

In August 2000, Drnovšek spent a holiday in Bohinj. It was just ahead of the parliamentary elections, and the measurement of public opinion did not indicate to the government of Dr Andrej Bajuk and the political parties of the then government coalition the possibility of repeating the mandate.
Drnovšek often invited me to Bohinj, every time with prepared short notes, more or less only indications of the topics he wanted to talk about. So it was on that day, when, after the greeting and after the usual accompanying silence, when only a sound of sipping of coffee could be heard, he began with a question of whether I happen to see my associate, the former State Secretary in the Ministry of the Interior, the professor at the Faculty of Law, Dr. Gorazd Trpin. We were sitting in the garden of the Bohinj villa, he was petting his dog when he said he wanted a change. That the disease would have consequences and that he would like to rationalize the work and ways of deciding by the new government. As well as that in all the thinking and searching for comparable solutions, he saw only one option. To strengthen the processes of government adjustment and decision-making in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister, and for this reason, separate them from the joint administration of the entire government united in the General Secretariat.
The first time we talked about it, the idea was more or less space-related then, in 1995, when he intended to move the main Cabinet to the “Podrožnik” Villa. Five years later, Drnovšek continued. That he wanted the government to be more structured and that for that purpose, he would like to strengthen the Cabinet of the Prime Minister with two coordinators who would have a high ranking, ranking of ministerial advisors, whose work would be the coordination of the work of individual ministries. The first one would coordinate the economic departments, and the other the entire public and state administration.
He was aware of the fact that for such an intervention in the work of the Government, the Law on Government should first be amended, and then the Law on the Organization of Ministries. However, he primarily knew that he needed the consent of possible coalition partners. However, at the same time he did not want anybody who was not sitting in the Bohinj garden that day to know what his intentions were. He ordered me for Trpin to prepare draft laws. So, a few days later, we prepared all the implementation documents at Gorazd’s house and carried them to Bohinj. Conspiratorially, past the state or party-controlled bodies. We reminded Drnovšek several times that it would be time for him to inform at least his own party leadership about his intention. He probably delayed it because he knew that the plan would not get approval either in the party, or with possible coalition partners. It really was so.
Just after the parliamentary elections and the absolute victory of his party, he withdrew a proposal on two coordinators of individual ministries in his cabinet. Later, the two of us talked about it again. In June 2002, he visited me in Belgrade. This was already the time of his hesitation related to the decision on whether to continue with the governing of the government or to take part in the candidacy for the new president of the state. The decision would be easier, he said late in the evening, if we had a government bureau and a minister who could coordinate the ministries, so that not everything would end at my desk. He seemed tired, but I attributed it only to a busy day.

On January 18, 2008, Borut Pahor was simply happy. He was composing a new government. However, he missed one of the key solutions. He offered to Mitja Gaspari, the long-time Minister of Finance, the position of coordinator of economic ministries in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister. Gaspari, who knew all the complications of a similar attempt by Drnovšek, was cautious. Only the secretary general Uroš Jaušuvec and the assistant Simona Dimic knew about their conversations. According to forecasts, the deal on Gaspari’s entry into the new government should have been published a week earlier. However, Gaspari did not agree. He wanted to get assured that the new government position would be regulated by law. It did not seem he would obtain it. However, Pahor issued some sort of decision. That Gaspari would be appointed a deputy prime minister and thus be assigned tasks to coordinate the work of the ministries. On January 18, he convened a press conference and announced that they had reached an agreement on political co-operation with Gaspari. That he would take over the role of vice-president and his deputy in the upcoming government, as well as coordinate economic ministries and the Ministry of Finance. The first response came from the opposition as a question of whether the Law on Government envisaged such a decision, and whether such a proposal made by Pahor would be legitimate? That was quite sufficient motive for some candidates for ministers to begin to radically question the decision of the mandatary. Later, Pahor withdrew his proposal and proposed Gaspari as a minister without a portfolio in charge of development and European affairs. The idea of a special coordinator of ministries failed to be implemented again.

Marjan Šarec makes the third attempt. Again with a respectable individual. Vojmir Urlep is a good choice. However, Šarec has stopped halfway. Several days after it was announced that Urlep would be appointed as a special coordinator in his cabinet, the new mandatary announced that he would not amend the Law on the Government. The same as the two prime ministers, Drnovšek and Pahor, so many years before him.

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