Karl Erjavec, the former leader of the Pensioners’ Party (Demokratična stranka upokojencev Slovenije – DeSUS), announced on Wednesday that he would step down. He also ended his membership in the party, stating that this was no longer the party he had led for 15 years.
The resignation marks the end of his short-lived return. Erjavec was ousted as party leader by Aleksandra Pivec in early 2020, only to return at the end of the year after Pivec became embroiled in an ethical scandal.
“You know I was asked to return as president last year … I took on the task mainly to consolidate the party, to save it. But recent events have shown that the party is so fragmented that it cannot be saved, said Erjavec.
The statement comes after a party council session in which a debate on DeSUS ‘future was planned after Erjavec led a failed attempt to oust Prime Minister Janez Janša.
Erjavec resigned as chairman and left the DeSUS party at the start of the party council session on Wednesday, leaving the meeting a little later. Party Vice President Irena Majce also resigned.
According to the party statute, one of the vice-presidents will be elected as interim VP, so after Majnnova’s resignation the members voted between the two candidates. In a secret ballot, they elected Anton Balažek to lead the party in the third election congress, after two congresses last year. According to the provisions of the statute, the congress will take place within a year, however Balažek clarified that the exact date remains unknown, although it is possible that it will convene in three months. That, he said, also depends on what will come out of the meditation, what is good and meaningful for the party.
Speculation about Erjavec’s resignation was strong, especially after it was revealed that he had accepted a corporate job at telecommunications equipment maker Iskratel, where he would advise the CEO on expanding into foreign markets.
Erjavec had faced problems especially with his group of deputies, one wing of which had refused to support the no-confidence motion in the Janca government.
After the failed vote, some MPs sought to align with the government, even though DeSUS left the ruling coalition in December. In the end it was decided that the party would play a constructive role in the opposition.