The Slovenia Times

First and Probably Last Anniversary of Janša's Government


The tenth government since independence was installed after Positive Slovenia (PS) leader Zoran Janković failed to put together a coalition following PS's victory in the 4 December 2011 snap poll, paving the way for a five-party coalition led by Janša's Democrats (SDS).

The new cabinet immediately embarked on an austerity course, launching broad-based austerity measures in a bid to trim spending and honour the commitment to the EU to cut the budget deficit below 3% of GDP by 2013.

The bulk of the savings were to be made with the omnibus act on the balancing of public finances, which set the stage for a clash with trade unions, who came out in full force in April staging a major public sector strike.

The negotiations continued after the strike and resulted in an agreement that saw both sides cede ground and the eventual passage of the act.

In the second half of 2012, structural reforms took centre stage, spearheaded by pension reform - which was passed in December, raising the retirement age and tightening other retirement conditions - and an overhaul of labour legislation, on which talks are continuing.

A second clash with public sector trade unions came as the government announced a 5% cut in the public sector wage bill in the 2013 budget, leading to another general strike on 23 January.

Two other laws that the government has promoted as key to turning Slovenia around also became ensnared in a dispute with the opposition and the trade unions.

But the acts establishing the Slovenia Sovereign Holding and the Bank Assets Management Company (bad bank) went into effect after the Constitutional Court struck down referendum challenges and efforts are currently underway to put the institutions in place.

In foreign policy, relations with Croatia remained in centre stage, most notably Yugoslav-era foreign currency deposits in the Zagreb branch of the defunct Slovenian LB bank - an issue that had been agreed to be addressed as part of succession.

The issue re-emerged after the Croatian government authorised two commercial banks to sue LB and its offshoot NLB, and Slovenia made the withdrawal of these authorisations a condition for its ratification of Croatia's EU Accession Treaty.

Until recently, the government appeared stable despite having adopted unpopular measures, but a report released by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption in early January changed that by finding that Janša, as well as Janković, had run afoul of the country's integrity law by misreporting assets.

As a result of the findings, one junior coalition partner, the Citizens' List (DL), has already quit the coalition, leaving Janša with a minority government. The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Peoples' Party (SLS) plan to follow suit.

With the government starved of its majority in parliament, it is as yet unclear whether Slovenia will soon face an early election or get an alternate government.

Talks are currently underway among opposition parties and the SLS and DeSUS on a project government that would implement a list of priorities prior to an early election, but details remain sketchy and an agreement still elusive.


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