Political turmoil makes Slovenes nervous ahead of EU presidency

Prime Minister Janez Janša, photo: CTK

After a recent presidential election revealed widespread dissatisfaction with the current government, Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša called for a vote of confidence in parliament. The announcement sent markets tumbling and, as Michael Manske reports, unnerved the country as it approaches the EU presidency.

Prime Minister Janez Janša, photo: CTK
After the opposition-supported presidential candidate Danilo Tuerk swept to victory in recent elections, the government made the surprise announcement of holding a vote of confidence in parliament. Prime Minister Janez Janša criticized what he called the "unhelpful attitude" of the opposition, and with Slovenia's imminent takeover of presidency of the EU, decried the embattled state of the government. Janša:

"The government and the government coalition in this project remains obviously more or less alone."

Of particular concern was the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) which is currently part of the government, but was seen as wavering in its support. However, when the vote of confidence came, all coalition parties firmly backed the government in a 51 to 33 vote. The vote was decidedly partisan, which also drew criticism from the Prime Minister. Janša:

"At this moment there is obviously no one who would want to help the coalition or who would want to replace it, despite the offer to do so."

The opposition, meanwhile, lost the vote but found encouragement in the recent presidential results and in polls. Opinion polls continue to put the opposition social democrats in first place, and parliamentary elections are looming.

In the meantime, parliamentarian Matej Lahovnik of the opposition party Zares brushed aside calls for »unity« before the EU presidency, saying it was the duty of the opposition to challenge the government.

Lahovnik: "For one week the government was only occupied with itself and all the drama that we witnesed was unnecessary and it would have been better if the governmnet would have been involved in more serious things."

Slovenia assumes the EU presidency in January.