Saturday

27th Aug 2016

Focus

Slovenia in political crisis

  • Jansa (l) pictured with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso (Photo: Slovenian EU Presidency, Thierry Monasse)

What is a superlative for the phrase "political crisis"?

Many commentators have chosen "total political crisis" or derivatives of the term "anarchy" to describe the current political vacuum in Slovenia. In a single weekend, the country saw both the ruling coalition party and main opposition party plunged into disarray.

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Barely a month ahead of the EU elections, Positive Slovenia (a member of the European Liberals) and a governing party, has split into those who support Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek and those who support the mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Jankovic.

The divisions came after Jankovic was elected as the new party leader at Positive Slovenia's congress – Bratusek previously said she would step down if she did not have the party's support.

In a normal "crisis" Jankovic would become the new PM, but coalition parties reject Jankovic as their leader because of several unfinished criminal investigations against him.

To make matters more complicated, the former friends, now adversaries, will stay on the same EU election list – since it is already too late to make changes.

Positive Slovenia's main political opponent, the SDS Party (a member of the centre-right EPP), did not have much time for schadenfreude however, because the next day (28 April), its party leader Janez Jansa was found guilty of corruption.

The court found the former prime minister guilty of trying to take bribes for the SDS party in 2007 from the Finnish military company, Patria, which was selling armoured vehicles to Slovenia at that time.

This week judges rejected Jansa's appeal and decided he must go to prison for two years.

One solution to the situation is to hold early elections.

Alenka Bratusek, still Prime Minister, on Tuesday (29 April) held talks with the state president Borut Pahor and coalition parties on when to organise a vote – either in early summer or in early autumn. In any case it would be the second snap poll in the last three years.

However, many doubt elections could bring a legitimate government because both the main actors, Janez Jansa and Zoran Jankovic, are not prepared to step down in the face of accusations.

Jansa, for example, has insisted he will remain SDS chief even if he goes to jail.

For now the SDS Party is still polling as the strongest party ahead of the coming EU elections.

But the political upheaval has unsettled the country which has only recently managed to stabilise its banking sector and public finances under the premiership of PM Bratusek.

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