NSi founder, first leader Bajuk remembered ten years after death

Ljubljana – New Slovenia – the Christian Democrats (NSi) remembered on Monday Andrej Bajuk, the party’s founder and first leader, who died aged 67 ten years to the day. NSi leader Matej Tonin recalled Bajuk’s dedication to the party and his homeland.

Bajuk (1943-2011), who briefly served as prime minister, as well as finance minister and MP, came to prominence in Slovenia’s political arena after he was elected in April 2000 a vice-president of the SLS+SKD, a party created with a merger of the Christian Democrats (SKD) and People’s Party (SLS).

After the LDS-led government of Janez Drnovšek collapsed, he became a prime minister-designate in May 2000 to lead the government until the election in October that year.

Just months after the SKD+SLS merger, Bajuk and several like-minded ex-SKD members formed the NSi in August 2000, and he became the party’s first president.

He served as finance minister in the first Janez Janša government between 2004 and 2008, during which time Slovenia also introduced the euro.

In 2005, The Banker magazine declared him the EU finance minister of the year.

As the NSi failed to make it to parliament in the 2008 election, Bajuk resigned as party leader and withdrew from politics.

Ljudmila Novak took over as leader to take the party back to parliament in 2011, while Tonin became the new leader in 2018.

Addressing the press today as the party leadership laid a wreath at Bajuk’s grave at Žale cemetery in Ljubljana, Tonin said Bajuk had always put Slovenia first and promoted dialogue and cooperation.

The generations leading the NSi now take Bajuk’s ideology as their guidance, said Tonin, who believes that Bajuk would have been proud of the party.

Tonin also said that the sad news of Bajuk’s death ten years ago “hurt us deeply, while at the same time encouraging us in our belief that the NSi has to return to parliament”, which it managed to do so in 2011 and has since successfully continued Bajuk’s legacy.

Bajuk was laid to rest on 14 August 2011 with full military honours. His funeral was attended by some 1,000 people, including all senior Slovenian officials.