The Slovenia Times

The End of Pahor's Government


The outcome of the confidence vote had largely been expected as Pahor, who has been leading a minority government since June, struggled to find votes for a necessary cabinet overhaul following the departure of two of the four coalition partners.

In a showdown with his critics in parliament, who have repeatedly accused him of not being up to the task, Pahor made one last appeal against a full-blown "paralysing political crisis" in Slovenia in a time of mounting debt problems in the eurozone.

But the majority opinion in the parliamentary benches was that the minority government was already paralysed and that Slovenia needs a strong government formed based on the outcome of fresh elections.

Aside from the Democrats (SDS), People's Party (SLS) and National Party (SNS), those voting against included all but one MP from the former coalition partners Zares and the Pensioner's Party (DeSUS).

The votes in favour came from Pahor's Social Democrats (SD) and the LibDems (LDS), the lone coalition partners, as well as three unaffiliated MPs.

In a short address to the parliament following the vote, Pahor said he had served the country according to the best of his abilities and thanked his cabinet for the hard work in dealing with the difficult economic situation in the country.

The vote means that parliament can now appoint a new prime minister, although there is virtual unanimous agreement among parliamentary parties that a snap election must be held. This would be called if a new prime minister-designate is not appointed within 30 days.

The opposition parties hailed the chance to go to the polls in the coming months, reiterating that it was time for a new government that could implement overdue reforms.

Making it all but certain that early elections will be called, SD lawmakers announced today that they would not be willing to accept any alternatives for prime minister in the current term of parliament should the government be ousted.

The vote of no confidence brings to an end a tumultuous three-year period for a government faced by the deepest recession in over 15 years and often crippling disputes within its own ranks and inability to find common ground with social partners in pushing through reforms.

A series of shuffles and several scandals which tainted the image of many of its main figures only led to a further decline in the government's approval ratings.

Falling to around 30% in the first year of its term, as the economic crisis set in, they have only declined since as public perception has grown that the government cannot get things done.

The need for a strong government that would be able to coordinate efforts with social partners while enjoying backing of the people was emphasised by various opinion leaders in the first reactions to the outcome of the confidence vote.

Economists and business officials were quick to hail the prospects of an early election as a way of breaking the current stalemate and getting a government that would put reforms in place.

The country's main business chambers, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS), called for the formation of a stable government which could provide for stable economic conditions.

The trade unions joined the call for a strong government that would also lend an ear to them in shaping reforms.

Meanwhile, worried by what he saw as a deepening of the political crisis in Slovenia, President Danilo Tuerk announced he would cut short a visit to New York where he is attending the session of the UN General Assembly this week to meet with political parties.

"I regret that the problems in Slovenia have developed to these proportions," Tuerk wrote in a press release, calling the situation serious and calling for responsible steps on the part of all political players and the public, including the media.

The prime minister and his ministers will serve as caretakers until a new government is appointed, which could mean for several months in the event of early elections, which cannot take place before late November or early December.

In this capacity, the cabinet is unable to propose new motions unless urgent, although jurists warned that this area was moot and open to various interpretations.

Pahor, 47, is the third prime minister to be ousted in a no confidence vote since Slovenia's independence.

He follows in the footsteps of Lojze Peterle, the leader of the first democratically-elected government in the country, who fell in 1992, and Janez Drnovsek, who lost a confidence vote while leading his second government in 2000.


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