Sustainable Policies


Economic Policies

With low unemployment rates indicating a tight labor market, Slovenia falls into the middle ranks (rank 22) with regard to economic policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 1.3 points relative to 2014.

With the robust growth of previous years having already slowed before the pandemic, GDP dropped by 4.2% in 2020. However, it bounced back quickly in 2021. The government has focused on improving the efficiency of state-funded infrastructure projects and expanding the list of large projects supported by EU funding.

The overall unemployment rate rose only mildly during the pandemic, from 4.4% in 2019 to 5.2% in 2020. By late 2021, it had returned to a record low of 3.8%. Structural challenges remain, but long-term unemployment rates have fallen. A minor proposed tax reform would relieve taxpayers at both ends of the income scale, but has been opposed by unions and opposition parties.

Public debt had been on a downward trend, but pandemic spending and shutdowns pushed the overall level to nearly 80% of GDP in 2020. Deficits are again on the decline. Public R&I spending has been increased, but remains below 1% of GDP.

Social Policies

Showing a mixed record, Slovenia falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 16) with regard to social policies. Its score on this measure has gained 0.4 points relative to 2014.

The pandemic placed the healthcare system under severe stress, but after an expansion of ICU capacity, the system was able to cope with the surge in admissions. A new long-term care act has been adopted. Childcare and parental-leave provisions are strong, and the employment rate for women is high. A new policy provides free nursery care beginning with the second child.

An ongoing series of reforms is aimed at modernizing the education system, improving digital competences and the integration of migrant children. Overall spending has been increased. The at-risk-of-poverty rate is below the EU’s average. Social benefits have been expanded, and the minimum wage has been increased.

A recent pension reform raised the retirement age and indexed pensions to prices. NGOs complain that the right to asylum is systematically denied. A dispute between the minister of interior and the police services ultimately allowed the minister to replace police leaders that were investigating government figures.

Environmental Policies

As it seeks to protect its rich natural landscape, Slovenia falls into the upper-middle ranks (rank 14) in terms of environmental policies. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.3 points relative to its 2014 level.

The country has established a comprehensive environmental legislative framework in the last decade, with ambitious policy goals particularly in the area of waste. Implementation and coordination of environmental policy has been largely effective. Its goal is to reduce emissions by 15% compared to 2005 by 2030.

New policy instruments were introduced in 2019 to promote waste prevention, make reuse and recycling more economically attractive, and shift reusable and recyclable waste away from incineration. A number of waste-processing plants have experienced massive fires in recent years.

Legislative changes that would have opened the way to environmentally damaging construction near bodies of water were overwhelmingly rejected in a 2021 referendum. The country engages in cross-border water-management efforts with its neighbors.

Robust Democracy


Quality of Democracy

With fair and inclusive electoral procedures, Slovenia falls into the lower-middle ranks (rank 26) with respect to democracy quality. Its score on this measure has fallen by 0.7 points relative to its 2014 level.

Political parties receive public and private funding. Laws prohibit donations from private companies or organizations. The media sector is highly politically polarized. Major publications are owned by companies with other business interests. Hungarian companies with ties to Prime Minister Orbán have also entered the sector.

Civil rights are largely respected, but same-sex couples and Roma individuals face discrimination. The prime minister and public authorities have been increasingly hostile to civil society organizations, campaigning against them and seeking to reduce access to public funding.

Legal certainty suffers as a result of contradictory provisions and the use of fast-track legislative procedures. The prime minister has put substantial pressure on the prosecutorial service. Politicians try to influence court decisions, but the Constitutional Court has repeatedly demonstrated its independence. Corruption remains a serious concern.

Good Governance


Executive Capacity

With a number of a significant gaps, Slovenia scores relatively poorly (rank 32) with regard to executive capacity. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.8 points since 2014.

Institutional strategic-planning capacities are generally weak, but a number of expert advisory groups have been created. The government office (GO) reviews bills from a legal and technical perspective but lacks sectoral expertise. Legislative projects depend largely on coalition-party negotiations, and are drafted by line ministries or interministerial teams with little GO participation.

RIA quality is uneven, and much legislation is exempt. A strong tradition of consultation exists, but employee representatives pulled out of the mechanism in 2021. Communication was somewhat incoherent during the early pandemic period, but improved afterward. The government has been quite successful in implementing its policy objectives.

Bureaucratic burdens on municipalities have been reduced, and central government transfers have been substantially increased. While regulations are generally enforced effectively and without bias, they are at times affected by interest-group pressure. The country was well prepared for its EU Council presidency in 2021.

Executive Accountability

With a public increasingly distrustful of the government and politicians, Slovenia falls into the upper-middle ranks internationally (rank 16) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has improved by 0.2 points relative to its 2014 level.

Parliamentarians have adequate resources and ample executive-oversight powers. The Court of Audit and the data-protection authority have been subject to increasing political pressure. The independent ombudsman is well regarded, but often has limited impact.

The media has become increasingly polarized, and is subject to increasing political pressure. Many media organizations are owned by business-sector figures that influence their content. The government actively seeks to silence critics, denying journalists access to accurate information. Public interest in politics is relatively low, as are levels of trust in political institutions.

While parties are heterogeneous, decision-making tends to be centralized. Economic-interest organizations cooperate with academics, and have good analytical capacities. The withdrawal of employees’ representatives from the official consultation mechanism in 2021 was a setback. NGOs have come under increasing pressure from the government, and in some cases have become more political.
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