Slovenian government collapses
28.02.13 @ 09:28
BRUSSELS - Slovenia’s Prime Minister Janez Jansa was ousted from office in a no-confidence vote on Wednesday (28 February) amid economic gloom compounded by persistent allegations of corruption.
The tiny Alpine ex-Yugoslav republic is beset by an economic crisis, a banking system in shambles, and an unemployment rate of just over 12 percent.
Hit with a deep recession, Slovenia’s economy is expected to contract more than any other member state, except for Greece and Cyprus.
The scandals and the economic problems have since caught up with Jansa’s minority government as junior coalition partners, the centre-right Civic List and pensioners' party Desus, abandoned the pro-austerity party bloc.
The state’s anti-graft watchdog accused Jansa of hiding away €210,000 of personal assets to avoid paying tax. In early February, some 20,000 took to the streets to protest the political corruption, rising unemployment, and erosion of social benefits.
Jansa maintains his innocence but lawmakers on Wednesday voted him out anyway.
His replacement is 42-year old centre-left opposition leader Alenka Bratusek who is now tasked by the deputies to form a new government.
Bratusek oversaw the state budget during a six-year stint in the ministry of finance. She joined the parliament in December 2011 and will now become Slovenia’s first woman head of government.
“Today marks a watershed moment for Slovenia,” said Bratusek, reports AFP.
The tasks ahead included reforming an ailing banking system that has accrued around €7 billion of bad loans, reports Reuters.
A €2 billion debt will also mature in mid-2013, adding further complications to a state trying to avoid becoming the sixth eurozone country to ask for a bailout.
Bratusek, who has voiced her opposition to austerity in the past, said the priorities are creating growth and jobs.
She told parliament following the no-confidence vote that “there will be no Greek scenario in Slovenia,” reports BBC.
The European Commission, for its part, noted in its 2012 country specific recommendations, that Slovenia had not undertaken any major structural reforms in 2011.
The country operated without a full budget until mid-May last year “creating uncertainty, notably over the achievement of the 2012 deficit target”, says the Brussels executive.
Slovenia joined the EU in 2004 and the euro in 2007.