What is the political context of the Eurozone crisis period in Slovenia? Have there been changes in government, elections, referenda or other major political events during the period of 2008-present?
Political parties in Slovenia:
Desus – democratic party of pensioners
Državljanska lista Gregorja Viranta (DL) – center right
Liberalna Demokracija Slovenije (LDS) – liberal democrats
Nova Slovenija (NSi) – christian party
Pozitivna Slovenia (PS)- center left
Slovenska demokratska stranka (SDS) – democrats
Slovenska Ljudska Stranka (SLS) – conservative
Slovenska Nacionalna stranka (SNS) – extreme nationalist
Socialni demokrati (SD) – social democrats
Strake Mira Cerarja (SMS) – center
Zavezništvo Alenke Bratušek (AZ) – center left
Zares – social liberals
Združena Levica (ZL) – left
Slovenia has gone through a period of high political instability since 2008. In the September 2008 parliamentary elections, the Socialni demokrati (SD) (left) obtained 29 seats, followed by the Socialna Demokratska Stranka (SDS) (right) with 28 seats. The SD leader Borut Pahor became prime minister and formed a (left wing) coalition government with three small parties (LDS – liberal democrats, Zares – social liberals, Desus – democratic party of pensioners). Pahor’s government attempted to introduce several changes. The Government of the Slovenian Republic [hereinafter Slovenian Government] proposed reforms in December 2010 to reduce public debt by increasing the retirement age to 65, implementing pension reform, and cutting social benefits. Several reforms were however overturned through referenda, which often had a very low participation. This initiated a strong debate concerning the need to revise the right to petition a referendum, which has been often used as a means of blocking reforms.
During the December 2011 election, Pozitivna Slovenia (central left), led by Zoran Jankovic, won most votes, with 28 seats, followed by SDS with 26 seats. Janković however failed to secure a parliamentary majority to form a government. That is why Janez Jansa, the leader of SDS, got the mandate and formed a (right wing) government (with DL, Desus, SLS, NSi).
Jansa’s government was in power from 2012 until early 2013. A minimal tax reform was adopted in April and May 2012 that aimed to improve the economic situation —by introducing a tax reduction for businesses and incentives for investments—. A special austerity law was adopted in May 2012 which helped reducing the budget deficit by half. In July of the same year, the government adopted a legislative package for growth, which aimed to lift bureaucratic obstacles for entrepreneurs and citizens. In October 2012, the government adopted the Slovenian Sovereign Holding Act and the Act Determining the Measures of the Republic of Slovenia to Strengthen Bank Stability. Further, in December 2012, the government adopted a pension reform. The law proposal, which tightened the retirement conditions by raising the retirement age to 65 years or 40 years of pensionable service, was passed without a single opposing vote. The reform nonetheless reduces the burden on public finances only until 2020.
Several protests took place in December 2012 and January 2013. On January 8, the Corruption Prevention Commission released a report which found that both Janša and Jankovič violated the country’s office-holder integrity law, by having failed to report their assets. Three out of five parties left the coalition after Janša rejected their calls to resign as PM. As the government lost its majority, the opposition parties launched talks on an alternative government or early election in a bid to resolve the political crisis.
There were no elections in 2013. The parties agreed to form a new coalition, ruled by PS’s leader Bratušek. Bratušek, who was named interim head of the PS on 17 January 2013, after leader Janković suspended his position in the wake of a report that found he violated the country’s public office integrity law. The new coalition members were PS, DL, Desus and SD.
In March 2013, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia [hereinafter National Assembly] has passed the labour market reform without a single opposing vote. This was one the most important structural reforms planned by the Government to improve the economic and financial situation aimed to tackling market segmentation and increase Slovenia’s competitiveness. The new legislation, which social partners negotiated for five months, enabled easier hiring and firing, which aimed to contribute to a greater competitiveness of the Slovenian economy. In May 2013, the National Assembly adopted also the Act Amending the Public Sector Salary System. This Act regulates the system of salaries for officials and public servants in the public sector, the rules for stipulating, calculating and paying such salaries, and the rules for stipulating the amount of funds for salaries. Slovenia was facing a severe banking crisis, driven by excessive risk taking, weak corporate governance of state-owned banks and insufficiently effective supervision tools. The government suggested the creation of the Bank Asset Management Company to ring-fence impaired assets.
In April 2014, the leading political party PS held a congress during which it elected the next party’s president. Two candidates applied for the post: the previous president Janković and Bratušek, at the time, the Slovenian prime minister. The coalition parties SD, DL and DeSUS threatened to leave the government if Jankovič were elected. Janković won the election, triggered a formal resignation of Bratušek.
After the resignation of Alenka Bratušek’s government, Slovenia had parliamentary elections in June 2014. The Party of Miro Cerar (SMC), a newly formed party led by the lawyer and professor Miro Cerar, won the election obtaining 36 seats. SDS obtained 21 seats, DeSUS 10 seats, the United Left—a new political party—and SD both obtained 6 seats, Nsi 5, and the AB 4 seats. The Slovenian People’s Party, Positive Slovenia (the winner of the 2011 election), and Civic List failed to retain seats in the Assembly.