Endorsed by the emerging coalition of his SMC party, Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and the SocDems (SD), plus the ZaAB party of outgoing PM Alenka Bratušek and ethnic minority MPs, Cerar pledged to seek to restore public trust in state institutions and the rule of law and work to overcome divisions, thus paving the way out of the crisis.
Immediately taking the oath of office, Cerar pledged to work for the benefit of Slovenia while calling for cooperation between his future cabinet and the parliament. "I hope that even in the cases where we don't see eye-to-eye we can lead a normal and respectful dialogue."
ZaAB was the only opposition party to announce support, as three others – the Democrats (SDS), United Left (ZL) and New Slovenia (NSi) – said that Cerar had not won them over with his programme. The SDS and NSi criticised a lack of concrete plan of measures from him, while the ZL said that his government appears headed on a neo-liberal footing.
In the debate preceding the vote, SDS head Janez Janša, who came to Ljubljana from prison, where he is serving a two-year prison sentence in the Patria bribery case, reiterated that the election, in which the SMC got 34.5%, was illegitimate.
However, Cerar responded that the situation that arose after Janša was found guilty was complex but this could not mean that the 13 July election "was questionable in any way".
Janša, who served as prime minister between 2004 and 2008 and between 2012 and 2013, also told Cerar that the job of prime minister was "brutal". "From the first moment on you deal with numbers, the harsh reality and you must decide about numbers and deadlines."
ZL deputy group head Luka Mesec said in the debate that he expected the new government to "question the iron laws of the past". His party colleague Violeta Tomić said the ZL would "be a reminder when the government will turn away from the goals that aim to help the people."
Cerar, a constitutional expert, who turned 51 today, is a newcomer to the Slovenian political scene although he has been well known as a public interpreter of constitutional issues. The party bearing his name won the 13 July snap election with 34.5% of the vote just over a month after its inception.
Cerar now has 15 days to nominate his ministerial team; he told the press after swearing in that he will look for competent ministerial candidates within the party but also outside if necessary.
The new prime minister designate underlined that he wishes a government team capable of successful and hard work. He said that he would now intensify staffing talks with potential coalition partners. If possible, Cerar will nominate ministerial candidates sooner than in 15 days.
Information from the would-be coalition partners has indicated that a new cabinet, which would become Slovenia's third in 30 months, is expected to have 15 ministers, eight of which are to fall to the SMC, four to DeSUS and three to the SD.
The posts are thought to have been distributed already with economics professor Dušan Mramor confirming he has consented to take the post of finance minister, which he held already in 2002-2004, for the SMC. Security expert Bojan Dobovšek, a member of the SMC, is tipped to become interior minister.
DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec confirmed he would continue to serve as foreign minister and his party colleague Gorazd Žmavc would continue as diaspora minister. The party is also eyeing the culture and the environment and the spatial planning departments with Julijana Bizjak Mlakar and Tomaž Gantar tipped for the posts.
Meanwhile, SD has indicated it wanted to keep the Ministry of Labour, Family and Social Affairs, which is currently headed by Anja Kopač Mrak, and the Agriculture Ministry, where SD leader Dejan Židan is minister.
The party of outgoing Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek, which supported Cerar in the PM-designate vote today, announced that it would not endorse his government team.