Slovenia’s parliament has ousted the conservative Prime Minister Janez Jansa in a no-confidence vote and designated Alenka Bratusek from the opposition Positive Slovenia (PS) to replace him.
The 90-seat parliament voted 55-33 to dismiss Jansa’s ruling coalition after just a year of trying to navigate through the ex-Yugoslav republic’s worst economic and political crisis in 22 years of independence.
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The premier-designate now has two weeks to present her cabinet and programme to parliament and pass a vote of approval.
Bratusek, 42, faces a difficult task of reconciling the demands of potential junior partners amid the worst economic and political crisis in Slovenia since it split from Yugoslavia in 1991.
In her address to legislators ahead of the vote, Bratusek hinted at a break from austerity policies which provoked massive strikes and protests over the past year.
“Slovenia cannot afford … the economic contraction and rising unemployment. It is clear that cutting spending will not in itself spur economic growth. This policy does not lead to deficit reduction, which has been the stated goal of the current government,” she said.
An EU member since 2004, Slovenia has been hit hard by the crisis and has been struggling to reduce spending to sustainable levels and avert seeking a bailout.
Bratusek said that Slovenia now needs a government pursuing “economic growth and fiscal consolidation without hampering growth”. “That is the kind of government that we wish to form,” she said.
She listed her priorities as kick-starting growth, balancing public finances without stifling growth, protecting and developing the public sector and restoring the people’s trust in institutions of the state.
Bratusek was referring to the anger of Slovenians over corruption, which aggravated their frustration with austerity, unemployment and economic uncertainty.
In the end, it was not protests and strikes against austerity that led to Jansa’s expulsion only a year since he took over in the wake of December 2011 early elections, but another corruption scandal.
A state anti-graft commission published a report on January 8 alleging that Jansa had failed to declare $285,000 in assets to parliament.
He denied any wrongdoing and refused to resign despite calls from allies, but also failed to provide a credible explanation for his increased wealth.
Three of his four junior partners – the Civic List (DL), pensioners party DeSUS and the People’s Party (SLS) have split from Jansa’s SDS, stripping him of majority in parliament.
If Bratusek fails, Slovenia will hold another snap election right away. Even if she does muster the support, local observers say that her cabinet will be of a limited duration, tasked not only to reform but also usher the country to early elections probably in about a year.