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22 August 2014

Slovenia's troubled government set for ouster

 - Wednesday, 27 February 2013, 14:41

Slovenia's conservative government was set to be ousted on Wednesday as the parliament met for a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Janez Jansa and to consider naming an opposition leader as his replacement to lead the state out of its deep economic crisis.

Jansa's government, which was elected a year ago, started crumbling when three of his coalition parties left the Cabinet after an anti-graft watchdog in January accused the prime minister of corruption by failing to declare €210,000 ($285,000) of his personal property.

Jansa now controls about a third of votes in the 90-seat legislature. The vote is set for late Wednesday.

If Parliament elects opposition leader Alenka Bratusek as prime minister-designate, as expected, a new Cabinet will be formed without immediate early elections. Such elections would prolong the search for a solution for Slovenia's deep recession, partly triggered by the EU's financial woes.

Slovenia, which joined the European Union in 2004 and the eurozone in 2007 as a model newcomer, may become the sixth EU country to seek an international bailout to finance its beleaguered banks and their bad loans, which amount to some €7 billion ($9 billion).

Financial expert Bratusek, 42, would be the former Yugoslav republic's first female premier and would head the interim government for at least a year until new elections are held.

She told the parliament she would work on reforming Slovenia's banking sector and try to avoid seeking an EU bailout.

"There will be no Greek scenario in Slovenia," Bratusek said, outlining her economic program.

Slovenia has faced a series of street protests against austerity and corruption since December as unemployment hit a 14-year high at about 13 percent, and living standards plunged because of the government's spending cuts.

"At this moment, many Slovenes think there is no solution," Bratusek said. "I say, there is a solution."

Jansa praised his government's austerity program, and denied the corruption allegations, saying they were politically motivated to weaken his government. He has said the country could face bankruptcy if he is unseated.

Bratusek's response was, "The one who predicts catastrophe after he is gone deserves to be changed."

 

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