Candidates for ministers in the Robert Golob government

Ljubljana – Below are short biographies of the candidates for ministers in Slovenia’s 15th government that Prime Minister Robert Golob submitted to parliament yesterday. The cabinet line-up will change once the law on the government is amended as planned by the new coalition to add several more portfolios. Some of the ministries will be renamed.

Tanja Fajon, Social Democrats, candidate for minister for foreign affairs

Born in Ljubljana in 1971, Fajon graduated in journalism from the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences before going on to complete a post-graduate course in international politics at the College of Interdisciplinary Studies in Paris.

Beginning her career as a radio and newspaper journalist, she went on to work at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija from 1995 to 2009, serving for several years as its Brussels correspondent.

She was first elected to the European Parliament on the SD ticket in 2009 and then again in 2014 and 2019. She gave up her MEP term after being elected to the National Assembly in April. As MEP she was member of the Socialists and Democrats Group, her priority being the Western Balkans. She has served as SD leader since 2020.

Luka Mesec, Left, candidate for minister of labour, the family, social affairs and equal opportunities

Born in Kranj in 1987, Mesec graduated in European studies from the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences in 2012. He has been active politically since his student years and served as director of the Institute for Labour Studies from 2013 to 2014.

He was a founding member and coordinator of the party called Initiative for Democratic Socialism, a precursor to the Left, and was first elected to the National Assembly in 2014 as a candidate for the United Left to become the head of the deputy faction.

He is currently what the Left calls “coordinator” of the party. He offered his resignation after the party underperformed in the April election, but won a vote of confidence.

Klemen Boštjančič, Freedom Movement, candidate for finance minister

Boštjančič is a 50-year-old economist. He served as chief supervisor at construction company Vegrad, which went into receivership in 2009. In 2011 and 2012 he was the CEO of the now defunct flag carrier Adria Airways, from 2013 to 2017 he was a supervisor at hardware retailer Merkur and between 2014 and 2017 at logistics company Intereuropa. Between 2016 and 2017 he was the CFO of Montecristo SL.

Since December 2016 he has served as the chairman of the state-controlled tourism company Sava and since 2017 also as the chief supervisor of Sava’s key subsidiary Sava Turizem. Boštjančič is the sole owner and head of the consultancy Brio Svetovalni Center.

Danijel Bešič Loredan, Freedom Movement, candidate for health minister

Hailing from Izola, Bešič Loredan became a doctor in 1999 and an orthopaedic surgeon in 2006. Starting at Ljubljana’s UKC hospital, he proceeded to work for 13 years at the Orthopaedic Hospital Valdoltra in Ankaran. He has also worked in Switzerland and ran the orthopaedic department at the Nova Gorica general hospital from 2016 to 2021.

The 50-year-old’s current employers are the private medical centres Bitenc in Ljubljana, and Šalara in Koper. Bešič Loredan has attracted public attention for highlighting corruption issues in the healthcare system.

Before the election he had indicated that he wished to remove politics from healthcare, while also wanting to “change what is understood under ‘public healthcare'”. “Public healthcare is the right of people to receive treatment … This right needs to be secured by the state and it is through politics that fair, social and accessible healthcare can be attained”.

Tatjana Bobnar, Freedom Movement, candidate for interior minister

Bobnar, born in 1969, was the first woman to become the head of the Slovenian police force when she was appointed police commissioner under the Marjan Šarec government in late 2018. She was replaced by the next, Janez Janša government in March 2020 and assigned to a newly-established task force for migrations, in what was widely seen as an attempt to sideline her.

When it was announced that she was a candidate for interior minister, several civil society groups denounced her candidacy over pushbacks police conducted while she was the commissioner. Bobnar has said that if appointed, the basic tenet of her work will be a definitive strengthening of the rule of law, respect for human rights and basic freedoms.

Bobnar holds a master’s degree from the Ljubljana Faculty of Law, but started her career at the Ljubljana Police Department as an investigator of juvenile crime, also investigating sexual abuse of children. Among the senior posts she has held are deputy police commissioner and Criminal Police Department deputy director.

Marjan Šarec, Freedom Movement, candidate for defence minister

Šarec, born in 1977, became Slovenia’s prime minister in 2018 after entering the national political arena as a newcomer in 2017 when he made it to the run-off of the presidential election in late 2017 with incumbent Borut Pahor. He had been a prominent TV and radio comedian before entering politics by winning the mayorship in Kamnik.

Having obtained a university degree in acting in 2001, he started working for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and soon made a name for himself as a voice imitator on the broadcaster’s flagship satirical show Radio Ga-Ga and its several TV offshoots, excelling as the voice of two Slovenian presidents and several party leaders.

Elected mayor in 2010, he served two terms before entering the presidential race, and formed a minority government after the June 2018 general election. He stepped down two years into the job hoping for an early election, a move which backfired and led to the formation of the Janez Janša government. His LMŠ party failed to enter parliament this year and is merging with the Freedom Party, hence his ministerial candidacy.

Dominika Švarc Pipan, Social Democrats, candidate for justice minister

Born in 1978, Švarc Pipan graduated from the Ljubljana Faculty of Law in 2003, and in 2011 she earned the PhD degree in political sciences at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences.

Švarc Pipan has worked as specialised assistant at the International Court of Justice and as defence counsel at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

She was a state secretary at the Justice Ministry between 2018 and 2020. Currently, she runs a legal and business consultancy company. She is a vice-president of the Social Democrats (SD).

Matjaž Han, Social Democrats, candidate for economy minister

Born in Celje in 1971, Han graduated from the Celje Secondary School of Trade and Commerce. He has been been a member of the National Assembly since 2004, doing double duty as the mayor of Radeče from 2006 to 2011.

He is considered one of the most influential senior members of the Social Democrats and headed the party’s deputy group from 2013 through to the end of the previous parliament’s term.

His family have a company, M&M International, that he ran between 1992 and 2004 before his spouse took over.

Bojan Kumer, Freedom Movement, candidate for infrastructure minister

Kumer, born in 1974, has a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Ljubljana Faculty of Electrical engineering and started his career at power company Elektro Celje. His most recent job was at energy trader GEN-I in 2009, where he was a close associate of Robert Golob.

He was a state secretary at the Ministry of Infrastructure in 2013-2014 and in 2018-2020, while serving as director of the Elektro Energija utility after both stints as state secretary.

Uroš Brežan, Freedom Movement, candidate for environment minister

Brežan, born in 1972, is coming to the ministerial office from his fourth four-year term as Tolmin mayor, a post he was first elected to in 2006. He holds a university degree in economics from the Ljubljana School of Economics and Business.

Brežan served as a vice-president of the Slovenian Youth Party (SMS) in 2004-2014 and as a member of the upper chamber of parliament in 2012-2017. He entered this year’s election race on the slate of the newly-formed Freedom Movement.

Igor Papič, Freedom Movement, candidate for minister of education, science and sport

Papič, born in 1966, holds a PhD from the Ljubljana Faculty of Electrical Engineering and served one term as the rector of the University of Ljubljana in 2017-2021. He is currently a professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering.

During his career he has also worked at Siemens in Germany, was a visiting professor at the University of Manitoba, Canada, in 2001, while also lecturing at various other universities. He has also served as dean of his faculty, and has led a number of projects, including international ones.

Sanja Ajanović Hovnik, Freedom Movement, candidate for public administration minister

Born in 1977, Ajanović Hovnik has a master’s degree from the Ljubljana Faculty of Public Administration. She has served as a secretary of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) deputy group and worked at the Agency for Agricultural Markets and Rural Development.

She has also served as deputy director of the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy. Most recently she has been CEO of the company Smart Centre. She is the head of the Freedom Movement programme committee.

Irena Šinko, Freedom Movement, candidate for minister of agriculture, forestry and food

Šinko, who holds dual bachelor’s degrees in zootechnics and law, has so far served as a senior adviser at the department for environment and spacial planning at the Murska Sobota administrative unit, a job she took after two stints as the director of the Farmland and Forest Fund between 2010 and 2018.

Before 2010, she was the head of the department for agriculture and economy at the Murska Sobota administrative unit.

She started her career as a technologist at the food company ABC Pomurka, and then went on to become an agriculture inspector at the inspection service of the Gornja Radgona, Lendava, Ljutomer and Murska Sobota municipalities, and a teacher of animal husbandry at the Rakičan secondary school for agriculture.

Asta Vrečko, Left, candidate for culture minister

Born in Celje in 1984, Vrečko got a bachelor’s degree in art history from the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana, where she also got her PhD in 2014 following a stint as early-stage researcher at the Faculty of Education in Ljubljana. She is currently an assistant professor there.

She has also done extensive curatorial work, including at the Božidar Jakac Gallery, and has conducted research at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Ljubljana focusing on Slovenian and Yugoslav 20th century art.

Vrečko has long been politically active, first as a member of the informal Workers’ and Punks’ University and then as a founding member of one of the precursors of the Left. She is a local councillor for the Left and vice-president of the party.

Emilija Stojmenova Duh, Freedom Movement, candidate for minister without portfolio for digital transformation

Stojmenova Duh was born in Macedonia in 1985 and emigrated to Slovenia as a 16-year-old. In 2009, she graduated in electrical engineering from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science in Maribor, where she also earned her master’s and PhD.

She is currently an associate professor at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, where she also heads the digital innovation hub 4PDIH, having previously founded the national network of innovation labs FabLab Slovenija and headed the Digital Innovation Hub between 2014 and 2016.

Long a gender equality activist, Stojmenova Duh rose to public prominence as a vocal advocate of students arrested during protests against school closures during Covid and for publicly clashing with the Janez Janša government over digital spending and appointments at the National Research Agency. She ran for parliament on the Social Democratic ticket but has since left the party.

Aleksander Jevšek, Social Democrats, candidate for minister without portfolio for development and European cohesion policy

Jevšek, born in 1961, started his career in the police force, where he rose to the rank of director of the Criminal Police Department in 2007. After leaving the force, he was elected mayor of Murska Sobota in 2014 as a member of the Social Democrats (SD), the office from which he is coming to the new ministry.

Jevšek has said that as a great advocate of Slovenia’s decentralisation, he would like his ministry to be headquartered in Maribor, a city much closer to Murska Sobota than Ljubljana. He would also support proposals to transfer some other ministries from the capital.

Matej Arčon, Freedom Movement, candidate for minister without portfolio for Slovenians abroad

Arčon is a 49-year-old electrician who started his political career early, as president of the Nova Gorica students’ club. He went on to become city councillor in Nova Gorica and deputy mayor before serving two terms as mayor starting in 2010.

Previously a prominent member of the now defunct Liberal Democrats (LDS), he became the secretary of the Freedom Movement on its founding as a close ally and confidante of Robert Golob.

He won more than 15,000 votes in two districts in the last general election, more than any other candidate by far.

The indication of party does not necessarily mean that the candidate is a member of the party, they just fill quota assigned to the coalition party under the coalition agreement.