The Ability to Recall a Mayor Can Have a Strong Destabilising Effect on Local Self-Government

The National Assembly adopted an amending law on local self-government, which introduces the possibility of mayoral recalls during an elected term. This could be used to remove public officials from office if they have been given a prison sentence lasting six months or more – both at the state and local levels.

The amending law, which elicited a strong reaction from the general public, was given support by SMC, DeSUS and ZL, while other MPs from SD, SDS and NSi voiced their opposition. The Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia (ZOS) and the National Council were also opposed. The amending law is also being opposed by SLS, an extra-parliamentary party with a large number of mayors in its ranks. They have already announced their intention to request a constitutional review if the amending law passes parliamentary procedure.

The mayors point out that the groundwork for all this was already set when MPs passed a law stating that the offices of mayor and MP are incompatible. They accuse the present government of wanting to reduce the number of municipalities, especially smaller ones. Municipalities with less than five thousand inhabitants will probably be joined to larger ones. This would spell nothing less than a tragedy for smaller towns. Small municipalities have to make due with small budgets and try to make the most of the funding they have. Robert Smrdelj from ZOS points out that local self-government works well. The problem lies in the Government’s self-government strategy, which only puts us on a fast-track to centralization. The amending law is certain to lead to the destabilisation of local self-government.

Barbara Pirh