SLOVENIA

They came from nowhere: party just six weeks old wins Slovenia election

Slovenia's new leader opposes some of the privatisations agreed to reduce budget deficit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 14 July, 2014, 8:44pm
UPDATED : Monday, 14 July, 2014, 9:19pm

Centre-left political novice Miro Cerar has led his party to victory in Slovenia's election, indicating he would rewrite a reform package agreed with the European Union to fix the euro zone member's depleted finances.

The result of Sunday's election will test investor nerves, given Cerar's hostility to some of the big-ticket privatisations that the EU says are key to a long-term fix for Slovenia, which narrowly avoided having to seek an international bailout for its banks last year.

Cerar's six-week-old SMC party won 34.8 per cent of the vote, which translates to 36 seats in the 90-seat parliament. That would give the 50-year-old law professor the strong mandate his recent predecessors have lacked, potentially going some way to restoring political stability after years of turbulence and weak government. The centre-right SDS party was in second place with 20.6 per cent and a string of smaller centre-left parties also won seats and were lining up to join Cerar in government.

Success for Cerar, whose Olympic gymnast father was one of Slovenia's greatest ever sportsmen, is punishment by voters for the traditional parties, tarnished by corruption scandals and years of economic turmoil in the ex-Yugoslav republic.

Outgoing prime minister Alenka Bratusek called Sunday's snap election after losing public confidence. Cerar's government will now oversee a raft of crisis measures agreed with the EU to reduce Slovenia's budget deficit and remake an economy heavily controlled by the state.

Cerar, however, opposes the sale of telecoms provider Telekom Slovenia and the international airport, Aerodrom Ljubljana, fuelling investor fears of backsliding.

Suggesting he planned to revisit the crisis programme agreed under the previous government, Cerar said: "Our party will aim for Slovenia to fulfil its EU obligations but within that we will seek our own ways to reach these goals in the best way for Slovenia."

He said his cabinet would immediately consider which companies would remain in state hands and what to do with the rest. "I'll do my best to have our privatisation programme in place this year," he said. "This will be one of the priorities of the government."