News / Europe

    Slovenia Mandates New PM to Halt Dramatic Decline

    Slovenian opposition leader Alenka Bratusek at parliament session in Ljubljana, Feb. 27, 2013.
    Slovenian opposition leader Alenka Bratusek at parliament session in Ljubljana, Feb. 27, 2013.
    Reuters
    Slovenia dismissed its conservative-led government on Wednesday and offered a center-left finance expert the task of halting the Alpine country's fall from post-communist star to euro zone bailout candidate.

    The 90-seat parliament voted 55-33 to dismiss Prime Minister Janez 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.

    The baton passed to opposition Positive Slovenia leader Alenka Bratusek, who will become the country's first female prime minister if she manages to build a coalition around a platform to stabilise its finances and avoid going cap-in-hand to the European Union.

    "Today marks a watershed moment for Slovenia," 42-year-old Bratusek told reporters after the vote.

    A member of the EU since 2004, the country of 2 million people has gone from economic trailblazer for the rest of eastern Europe when it joined the euro zone in 2007 to the latest ailing member of the 17-nation currency bloc.

    With unemployment at a 14-year high and the banking sector strangled by bad loans, speculation is rife that without urgent reform Slovenia may soon be unable to find affordable financing and repay about 2 billion euros of outstanding debt due in mid-2013.

    Parliament will probably vote on Bratusek's proposed cabinet in late March.

    She has struck a deal with the Social Democrats and two of Jansa's former allies to hand her the reins for 12 months, with an option to keep herself at the helm until an election due in 2015.

    Spending cuts and allegations of government corruption have fuelled street protests of a kind not seen since Slovenia split from federal Yugoslavia in 1991 and escaped the bloodshed that would tear apart the rest of the region over the next decade.

    The downturn in Europe ravaged its vital export market, while 7 billion euros ($9.15 billion) in bad loans exposed a toxic mixing of politics and finance of the kind that has bedevilled banks across the continent.

    Slovenia's 35-billion-euro economy is estimated to have shrunk 2 percent last year and unemployment is more than 12 percent.

    Addressing parliament before the vote, Bratusek came out strongly against more austerity, quoting Nobel economics laureate Joseph Stiglitz in likening it to "medieval medicine".

    "You draw blood and, if the patient does not get better, you draw some more. Our priority is growth and employment, which creates wealth for everyone," she said.

    "I state clearly - there will be no Greek scenario in Slovenia."

    Jansa, embroiled in a property scandal, had been gradually abandoned by his coalition partners since the turn of the year, further shaking market confidence that Slovenia can do what it takes to steady the ship. He denies any wrongdoing.

    But given the policy differences in the likely new coalition - which would group the centre-right Civic List and pensioners' party Desus from the previous government with the two center-left opposition parties - Bratusek is unlikely to have an easy ride.

    The parties already differ on the need for a "bad bank", which Bratusek opposed, as a place to park bad loans and unburden local lenders to be recapitalized and sold.

    "Bratusek's problem is that the centre-left - her party's natural constituency perhaps - wants more pro-growth oriented policies, but at the same time the problems in the banking sector require pretty orthodox solutions," said Timothy Ash, emerging markets analyst at Standard Bank.

    "Slovenia is kind of moving in parallel now with Italy, in terms of trends towards political instability," he said, evoking the dangerous stalemate in the euro zone's third largest economy following an inconclusive election this week.

    Estimates suggest a bailout for Slovenia could run to 5 billion euros, mostly for shoring up its banks. Although small by the standards of Greece or Ireland, a bailout would be politically awkward when the euro zone is also wrestling with financial woes in Spain, Italy, Portugal and Cyprus.

    It would be much tougher on Slovenia itself, forcing the government to make more spending and job cuts, but under international supervision.

    For some of the Slovenes who have taken to the streets in their thousands since November to rally against corruption and the political elite, a change of prime minister was only a fig leaf.

    "If they bite the bullet and work hard, they might just succeed," said pensioner Drago Ikic in the capital, Ljubljana. "But if they fail, then really all the politicians should just leave and call an early election."

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora