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Slovenian report
by Euro Reporter
2014-07-30 12:46:00
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Slovenia's next prime minister

Miro Cerar looks a little like a man in shock. On June 2nd the mild-mannered, 50-year old academic formed a political party named after himself. On July 13th Miro Cerar won more than one-third of the votes in Slovenia’s general election, which means that Mr Cerar (pictured) is almost certain to be Slovenia’s next prime minister. His victory was not much of a surprise. Opinion polls had predicted a crushing victory. Mr Cerar will have 36 seats in the 90-seat parliament. He will spend the next few weeks in talks to build a government. Only one party is ruled out, he says, namely the conservative Slovenian Democratic Party of Janez Jansa, the former prime minister, the second-largest party in parliament. Mr Jansa was jailed for corruption on June 20th. Peter Suhel, an official of the Slovenian Democratic Party, claims the trial was politically motivated. Mr Cerar’s coalition will probably include the pensioners’ party, which came third in the election. Mr Cerar will also be talking to a new left-wing coalition, which did surprisingly well. He will consult with the Social Democrats, who suffered a humiliating defeat, as well as the new party of Alenka Bratusek, the outgoing prime minister. Ms Bratusek formed her own party after falling out with Zoran Jankovic, the leader of Positive Slovenia, which won the election in 2011, but has now been chucked out of parliament.

Mr Cerar is not unknown at home. When the last government of Mr Jansa collapsed in February 2013, the idea of an interim government of technocrats was mooted and Ms Bratusek asked Mr Cerar, who has been advising parliament for almost a quarter of a century on constitutional affairs, whether he would become prime minister. Mr Cerar turned down the offer because, he says, he realised he would be powerless without his own political party. With a group of up to 80 people, Mr Cerar then began working on a political programme. The idea was to form a party in time for the next election, but they had not anticipated it would come so soon. But when Ms Bratusek’s government resigned in May, he says, “we realised it was now or never, even though we were not really ready.” Mr Cerar is opposed to the confrontational style of Slovene politics, which has become the norm in the last few years, but which many believe does not suit the country’s political culture.

Mr Cerar is likely to form a left-leaning cabinet. He says he is against the privatisation of assets of strategic importance. His government will look at how far the sell-off of Telekom Slovenije and Ljubljana airport has advanced. If he finds that it is too late to halt or modify those sales, Mr Cerar pledges they will go ahead because "we must preserve the credibility of Slovenia as a state". Mr Cerar is the son of distinguished parents. His father was a well-known Olympic gymnast and his mother was Slovenia’s prosecutor general and a minister of justice. Many of his campaign promises seemed rather bland. According to Tomaz Saunik, an analyst, this blandness was the best way to gather many voters who are disgruntled with the main parties and politicians they perceive as corrupt. “He is introverted, modest and traditionalist,” says Mr Saunik. His attraction lies in the fact that this is how many Slovenes see themselves.


Slovenia resumes privatisation of state-owned companies

Slovenia's outgoing government resumed the privatisation of state-owned companies it had suspended earlier this month, Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek's cabinet said in a statement late on Monday. Ahead of the July 13 elections, Bratusek froze the ongoing privatisation of 15 state-owned companies, including telecommunication operator Telekom and Ljubljana's airport, until a new government was elected.

Outgoing Finance Minister Uros Cufer had criticised the freeze saying it was "pre-electoral move" by Bratusek, aimed at challenging the main favourite to take over the government, political newcomer Miro Cerar, who opposed the privatisation of infrastructure companies. Slovenia's newly elected parliament will meet for the first time on Friday with Cerar's SMC  party the strongest force holding 36 seats in the 90-seat parliament, while Bratusek's ZaAB party holds only four seats.

The likely next Prime Minister Cerar has already started talks with other parties to form a coalition that would continue with the privatisation but leave key infrastructure firms under state control. "We will not stop those privatisations that have already reached a point at which it would be legally wrong to do it or it would dent the country's credibility," Cerar told AFP ahead of the elections. Crisis-hit Slovenia narrowly avoided having to seek an international bailout last year by taking tough steps to reduce its budget deficit, including the privatisation programme.


NGO urges Slovenia to halt arms exports to Israel

Amnesty International Slovenia has called on the Slovenian government to halt arms exports to Israel in the face of the violence in Gaza.

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