The Slovenia Times

Parliament Confirmed New Ministers


The new ministers, who were appointed in a 49-18 vote, have already been sworn in and will assume office on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek said in presenting the ministerial nominees that a turn for the better is "expected, possible and needed" in all three departments.

The opposition did not support the three new ministers and criticised the government for taking three months to find replacements for the resigned Health Minister Tomaž Gantar and Economy Minister Stanko Stepišnik.

Opposition faction leaders also suggested it was not so much the candidates as the government platform that they opposed, although the New Slovenia (NSi) and People's Party (SLS) opted in the end to abstain from the vote rather than voting against.

Matej Tonin of NSi argued that considering the new coalition contract and the current political situation, the new ministers would be nothing "but administrators". He however acknowledged Bratuškek has had a "lucky hand" in choosing Dragonja.

The coalition MPs meanwhile believe the political situation will get back to normal with the long-awaited changes in the cabinet.

The reshuffle also included a trade-off between the ruling Positive Slovenia (PS) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) that forced Tina Komel of the PS to resign as diaspora minister.

DeSUS head Karl Erjavec and coalition SocDems faction leaders Tomaž Han believe Dragonja will be a counterweight to Finance Minister Uroš Čufer, who focused too much on rescuing banks, and too little on measures to kick-start growth, according to Erjavec.

Like the opposition, SD MP Mirko Brulc was also critical of the three-month absence of fully empowered economy and health ministers, suggesting the coalition had remained stuck in party calculations for too long.

Following the vote, Dragonja said he would do his best to reach breakthrough on the government's most important guidelines.

Responding to opposition's warnings that he would not be able to achieve everything he plans, Dragonja, who had previously served as economy minister in 1997-1999, said that work in the government meant constant coordination.

Trop Skaza said she was optimistic about the future. Touching on possible new health contributions and levies she suggested while being quizzed by the relevant parliamentary committee - which came under much fire from the opposition as well as coalition - she said that she was merely listing possible ideas.

"Of course an agreement within the coalition and in the society is needed. Consensus will show which way we'll go in the search of additional funds."

Žmavc said after he was sworn in that he would continue to follow the strategy set down by Komel. He intends to focus also on closer cooperation with the foreign and economy ministries.

Moreover, he believes that DeSUS holding both foreign policy departments could prove to be very practical, as key matters would be easier to coordinate.


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