A new cabinet for Slovenia, after months of political crisis

On Wednesday 20th President Borut Pahor appointed prime minister – designated Miro Cerar, leader of SMC (Party of Miro Cerar), who won the 13th July general parliamentary election with 34.5%[1]. The nomination was sent to the National Assembly and is expected to be voted next week, then the PM will have15 days to propose a cabinet to the parliament. SMC holds 36 of 90 seats at the National Assembly, likely Cerar will forge a centre-left cabinet with the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) and the Social Democrats (SD) which hold 10 and 6 seats, respectively.

The Slovenian political context is highly unstable: in less than three years this was the second early election and Cerar should be the fourth Prime Minister since 2011[2].

The parliamentary election was put forward because of the political crisis which affected the Alenka Bratušek’s cabinet, just 13 months after being sworn in. On 25th of April, at the congress of the senior coalition party, Positive Slovenia (PS),the mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković won the contest for the leadership, defeating Alenka Bratušek[3].

Janković founded Positive Slovenia in 2011, to stand for snap election and won 28.51% of the vote, but PS couldn’t reach a coalition agreement, so it was left in opposition to a centre – right cabinet headed by the Slovenian Democratic Party of Janez Janša. After the fall of the government in 2013 the others opposition parties (Social Democrats –SD, Pensioners’ Party – DeSUS and Civic List-DL) reached an agreement for a new cabinet. Janković withdrawal from the chairmanship of PS was the condition set by partner parties for a PS-led government, beacuse of the allegations raised by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption against him. Bratušek was elected chairwoman of the party and became Prime Minister in March 2013.

After the election of Janković at the leadership of PS, in april, all the coalition partners announced they would leave the government[4].

At the end of the month PM Bratušek left PS, followed by some lawmakers who left the party’s group in parliament, and at the beginning of May she officially resigned[5].

According with the Costitution the President, each deputy group or at least 10 MP’s have the power to propose a new PM-designate within 30 days after the resignation of the government: both majority and opposition agreed not to propose a new candidate, agreeding with President Pahor that early election was the only possibility in that situation[6].

The early election in 2014 are the second of this type in the Slovenian history, since the independence in 1991; first snap election was called in 2011 and the winner was a newcomer: Janković’s Positive Slovenia. In the same way this early election was won by another newcomer: Cerar’s SMC. Both, Janković and Cerar, appeared as a new way to do politics, a change from the old parties who ruled Slovenia since the independence until the first years of the economic crisis which was striking the country at the moment of their election; both appeared as the man able to bring political stability to a country characterized by an high number of political parties, a lot of which appear and disappear during a legislature.

The breaking between PS and Bratušek carried out when the political lists for European election were closed and couldn’t be changed: members of the party and supporters of the acting PM stayed together for that round of voting. PS’s list failed to return any MEPs, winning only 6.61%.

SDS won with 24.88% (3 MEPs), followed by the centre – right coalition New Slovenia – Slovenian People’s Party with 16.56% (2 MEPs). The third place (10.46%) was obtained by a new party, Verjamem (I Believe), founded by the former President of the Court of Auditors Igor Šoltes who was the only MEP elected. DeSUS and SD won 1 MEP each one.

On 2nd of July the National Assembly was dissolved and President Pahor called parliamentary elections for 13th July[7].

On the same day SMC was founded by Miro Cerar and increased quickly in opinion polls, arriving in few weeks in the leading position[8].

Cerar was professor of constitutional law at the University of Ljubljana and legal adviser of the parliament. He has not a clear political and ideological profile and is usually accused for having neither experience in politics and in the administration of the State nor a serious political programme. His party is generally seen as a centre-left one: Cerar declared to be in favour of the privatisation recommended by the European Commission, however strategic business sectors, the international airport of Ljubljana and the telecommunications company Telekom Slovenije should remain under public control.

Other important element of his electoral campaign was the fight against the corruption, a reform of the labour market, the strengthening of the rule of law.

At the election the turnout was 50.99%, lower than the last general election maybe due to the date[9]. The SMC obtained 34.5% and 36 seats, followed by the SDS with 20.7% and 21 seats. DeSUS arrived third with 10.18% ahead of the SD with only 5.98% and 6 seats, the lowest support than ever. Unexpectedly the fifth place was occupied by the United left (ZL) a coalition of several leftist parties which obtained 5.97%, strictly below the Social Democrats, and 6 seats. According to electoral polls ZL would not be able to go over the 4% threshold, albeit in European election it obtained 5.5% of the votes.

The centre – right New Slovenia (NSi) obtained 5.59% and 5 seats, whereas the Alliance of Alenka Bratušek – ZaAB, the newly party founded by the acting PM, 4.38% with 4 seats.

In accordance with the Constitution two seats are reserved for the Italian and Hungarian minorities.

The Slovenian People’s Party (SLS) missed the threshold, it was one of the first non-communist movement founded in Yugoslavia and it was always present in the Slovenian National Assembly, since the independence of the country in 1991.

Also Verjamem failed to go over the threshold, losing nearly the whole consensus obtained at the European election, although its only MEP hadn’t yet started working. Probably its support was due to the fact that its leader appeared as a new figure, coming from a non-political world, as Cerar seemed at the beginning of the national electoral campaign. People who voted for Verjamem at European election should have voted for SMC at national election, although Šoltes showed his support for the Alliance of Alenka Bratušek.

Before the establishment of SMC the leading party, according to electoral polls, was the centre – right Slovenian Democratic Party – SDS of the former PM Janez Janša.

In 2013 Janša was sentenced to two years in prison in consequence of the Patria case, in which the former PM was accused to help a Finnish company (Patria) to win a military supply contract, accepting the promise of a bribe. Janša denied the accusations, claiming the process as a political one, drawing a parallelism with the JBTZ trial, in which he was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment by a Yugoslav military court for betraying military secrets.

In 2014 the Constitutional Court rejected Janša appeal due to formalities and he started serving his prison term in Dob Prison[10].

After the election and the lost of 4 seats, obtaining the worst election result, SDS called the elections as illegitimate and undemocratic, due to the imprisonment of Janša.

One of the SDS’s elected MP is Janša himself: left parties called a session of the parliamentary Privileges and Credential Commission to revoke the MP status.

The law provides that MPs lose their status if sentenced to more than six months in prison. The issue is whether is possible to apply this provision to Janša, elected after being sentenced in prison. Parliament’s legal service and SDS deputies said that the revocation of MP’s status could be uncostitutional because the law refers only to a deputy find guilty during his mandate. Commission argued that more legal opinions have to be obtained, so each deputy group will appoint a legal expert who will belong to a special task force[11].

At the beginning of August Bratušek’s outgoing cabinet submitted to Jean-Claude Junker, the European Commission’s president-elected, a list of four possible candidates for the European Commissioner position: Tanja Fajon, MEP since 2009 and vice-president of SD, Karl Erjavec, incumbent foreign minister and DeSUS leader, Janez Potočnik, current European Commissioner for Envirorment and Alenka Bratušek herself[12].

Potočnik declared not to give his consent to be nominated, saying that this decision should be taken by the new cabinet and not by the incumbent one.

The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has launched an inquiry into the nomination of the current PM: public officials can’t use their position in order to favour themselves[13].

Bratušek declared that the candidates were chosen consulting all the parties in the current cabinet and that also Fajon and Erjavec fill a leading post in their parties.

After the electoral winning Miro Cerar planned to talk with all parties in order to form a good and firm government declaring that he didn’t want to establish a single-colour cabinet and saying “It would be good to have a more rainbow-like government”.

The first party to be ruled out was SDS, accused of “undermining the rule of law”, followed by the United Left-ZL, due to the radical socialist programme incompatible with other parties.

At the beginning of August NSi left the round of talks, declaring that the conceptual and political differences were too wide, as for taxes and health reform.

The day after the presidential nomination Cerar decided not to admit ZaAB to the coalition because of ethical concerns, related to the European Commissioner issue. The ousting of the ZaAB, the smallest party inside the National Assembly, is seen as a good way to avoid potential extortion by a smaller partner.



Student in European Policy and Integration – University of Padua


[1] Anon., “Cerar Nominated for PM-Designate”, Slovenia Times, August 20, 2014.

[2] Anon., “Second Early Elections in Three Years”, Slovenia Times, July 13, 2014.

[3] Anon., “Slovenia,Jankovic wins Congress government is likely to fall”, ANSA, April 26, 2014; L. Offeddu, “Il ritorno del magnate sloveno che manda a casa la pupilla Alenka”, Corriere della Sera, April 29, 2014.

[4] Anon., “The End of Government Coalition”, Slovenia Times, April 26, 2014.

[5] Anon., “Prime Minister Bratušek Officially Resigns”, Slovenia Times, May 5, 2014.

[6] Anon., “Procedure Leading to Parliament Dissolution Enters Final Stage”, Slovenia Times, May 31, 2014.

[7] Anon., “Slovenia to vote on July 13 as Parliament Dissolved”, ANSA, June 1, 2014.

[8] Anon., “Jurist Cerar Founding Party”, Slovenia Times, June 2, 2014.

[9] Anon., “In Slovenia the new party, Miro Cerar (SMC) wins the general election”,Fondation Robert Schumann, July 16, 2014.

[10] M. Zola, “SLOVENIA: L’ex premier Janša verso il carcere. Da dissidente a corrotto”, East Journal, June 19, 2014; anon., “Janša Sent to Prison, He is Convinced About Political Plot”, Slovenia Times, April 28, 2014; anon., “After 26 Years, Janša in Prison Again”, Slovenia Times, June 21, 2014.

[11] Anon., “Debate on Janša’s MP Term Suspended”, Slovenia Times, August 8, 2014.

[12] T. Vogel, “Bratušek among the names proposed for Slovenia’s next commissioner”, European Voice, July 31, 2014.

[13] Anon., “EU Commissioner Nomination Comedy Goes On”, Slovenia Times, August 5, 2014.

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