Slovenia

   

Executive Accountability

#23
Key Findings
With a public increasingly distrustful of the government and politicians, Slovenia falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 23) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure has declined by 0.3 points since 2014.

Parliamentarians have adequate resources and ample executive-oversight powers. The Court of Audit is independent and well-regarded, but underfunded. The independent ombudswoman is well regarded, but often has limited impact, and has been criticized by the opposition for a lack of action in several prominent cases.

Citizens’ knowledge about government policymaking is limited, with trust in parties and government extraordinarily low. The private media offers largely superficial content, but the public broadcast media provide high-quality policy information.

While parties are heterogeneous, decision-making tends to be centralized. Economic-interest organizations cooperate with academics, and have good analytical capacities. Other interest groups also tend to have considerable policy knowledge, despite a decline in public funding.

Citizens’ Participatory Competence

#38

To what extent are citizens informed of government policymaking?

10
 9

Most citizens are well-informed of a broad range of government policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many citizens are well-informed of individual government policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few citizens are well-informed of government policies; most citizens have only a rudimental knowledge of policies.
 2
 1

Most citizens are not aware of government policies.
Policy Knowledge
4
According to a Eurobarometer survey in May 2017, around 70% of Slovenian citizens think they are well informed about what is going on in the country – though their knowledge of government policymaking is rather limited. While both print and electronic media provide mostly adequate information, certain segments of the population lack media literacy, and most citizens are simply not interested in the details of policymaking. The recurring corruption and political scandals have fostered frustration and disenchantment among a majority of the population. Trust in the national government (21% as compared to a EU28 average of 37%), in the parliament (18% / 36%) and in political parties (9% / 19%) is still very low.

Citations:
European Commission (2017): Standard Eurobarometer 87. Brussels (http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/STANDARD/surveyKy/2142).
OECD (2017), Government at a Glance 2017. Country Fact Sheet Slovenia 2017. Paris (http://www.oecd.org/gov/gov-at-a-glance-2017-slovenia.pdf).

Legislative Actors’ Resources

#11

Do members of parliament have adequate personnel and structural resources to monitor government activity effectively?

10
 9

The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring all government activity effectively.
 8
 7
 6


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for monitoring a government’s major activities.
 5
 4
 3


The members of parliament as a group can draw on a set of resources suited for selectively monitoring some government activities.
 2
 1

The resources provided to the members of parliament are not suited for any effective monitoring of the government.
Parliamentary Resources
9
Slovenian members of parliament command sufficient resources to perform their jobs effectively and to monitor government activity. Each member of parliament has a personal budget for education and literature acquisition as well as access to research and data services provided by the Research and Documentation Section. Additional resources are available to parliamentary party groups for organizational and administrative support, and for hiring expert staff. Parliamentary groups must have a minimum of three members of parliament. During the period under review, only two members of parliament did not belong to a parliamentary group.

Are parliamentary committees able to ask for government documents?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may ask for most or all government documents; they are normally delivered in full and within an appropriate time frame.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are slightly limited; some important documents are not delivered or are delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to ask for government documents are considerably limited; most important documents are not delivered or delivered incomplete or arrive too late to enable the committee to react appropriately.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not ask for government documents.
Obtaining Documents
8
In Slovenia, parliamentary committees have the right to ask for almost all government documents, and they can discuss any document in sessions either open or closed to the public. However, the Cerar government, similar to previous governments, sometimes delivered draft bills and other documents at the last minute or with considerable delay, thereby infringing on the work of the committees and obstructing public debate on the proposals. Compared to previous governments, there have been more public debates on most important legislation.

Are parliamentary committees able to summon ministers for hearings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon ministers. Ministers regularly follow invitations and are obliged to answer questions.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are slightly limited; ministers occasionally refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon ministers are considerably limited; ministers frequently refuse to follow invitations or to answer questions.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon ministers.
Summoning Ministers
10
The right of parliamentary committees to summon ministers is enshrined in the Rules of Procedure of the Slovenian Parliament. Ministers regularly follow invitations; if they are unable to attend in person, they can also authorize state secretaries to represent them. Ministers are also obliged to answer questions from members of parliament, either in oral or written form, and this obligation is largely respected in practice. Moreover, the prime minister must personally answer four questions from members of parliament in every parliamentary session. In 2016, members of parliament submitted a total of 1,770 questions to the government as a whole or to individual ministers. For the first time since independence, all of them were answered within the requested 30-day period.

Citations:
National Assembly (2017): Report on the Work of the National Assembly in 2016. Ljubljana (http://fotogalerija.dz-rs.si/datoteke/Publikacije/Letno_porocilo/Porocilo_o_delu_drzavnega_zbora_v_obdobju_2014_-_2018_-_drugo_leto_mandata_-_januar_2016_-_december_2016__Report_on_National_Assembly%E2%80%99s_work_in_the_Parliamentary_term_2014_-_2018_second_year_January_2016_-_December_2016.pdf).

Are parliamentary committees able to summon experts for committee meetings?

10
 9

Parliamentary committees may summon experts.
 8
 7
 6


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The rights of parliamentary committees to summon experts are considerably limited.
 2
 1

Parliamentary committees may not summon experts.
Summoning Experts
9
Parliamentary committees in Slovenia may invite experts or form expert groups in charge of helping to draft legislative proposals. Under the Cerar government, the number of experts invited has increased. Parliamentary committees have launched several public expert discussions on important pieces of legislation.

Are the task areas and structures of parliamentary committees suited to monitor ministries effectively?

10
 9

The match between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are well-suited to the effective monitoring of ministries.
 8
 7
 6


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are largely suited to the monitoring ministries.
 5
 4
 3


The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are partially suited to the monitoring of ministries.
 2
 1

The match/mismatch between the task areas of parliamentary committees and ministries as well as other relevant committee structures are not at all suited to the monitoring of ministries.
Task Area Congruence
8
The Slovenian parliament has two kinds of working bodies – 13 committees, which normally cover the work of ministries, and eight commissions (plus four commissions of inquiry), some of them standing, which deal with more specific issues such as the rules of procedure, the supervision of intelligence and security services or the national minorities. Under the Cerar government, the committee structure has remained unchanged, even though the number of ministries has increased. As a result, the number of committees overseeing more than one ministries has grown. However, this has not infringed on the monitoring of ministries.

To what extent is the audit office accountable to the parliament?

10
 9

The audit office is accountable to the parliament exclusively.
 8
 7
 6


The audit office is accountable primarily to the parliament.
 5
 4
 3


The audit office is not accountable to the parliament, but has to report regularly to the parliament.
 2
 1

The audit office is governed by the executive.
Audit Office
9
According to Article 150 of the Slovenian constitution, the Court of Audit is the supreme auditing authority in all matters of public spending. The Court of Audit is an independent authority accountable exclusively to parliament. The Court of Audit scrutinizes the performance of national and local governments and all legal persons established or owned by them. The chairman and the two vice-chairmen are elected by the parliament for nine years – on the basis of secret ballots – and the office reports regularly and whenever requested to the parliament. The Court of Audit has far-reaching competencies and enjoys a good reputation and high public trust. Its reports have impact on the policymaking process and its criticisms are mostly regarded as positive. However, its position is somewhat limited by a lack of both financial and human resources. While it can propose its own budget to the legislature, the ultimate decision regarding the Court’s resources rests with parliament.

Does the parliament have an ombuds office?

10
 9

The parliament has an effective ombuds office.
 8
 7
 6


The parliament has an ombuds office, but its advocacy role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


The parliament has an ombuds office, but its advocacy role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

The parliament does not have an ombuds office.
Ombuds Office
8
In addition to the parliament’s Commission for Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities, there is an independent ombudsman, who is accountable exclusively to parliament. The ombudsman is elected by parliament for a term of six years and reports regularly to the legislature. The current ombudsman, Vlasta Nussdorfer, was elected in February 2013 with the broadest majority yet seen in the country’s short parliamentary history (82 out of 90 votes). She enjoys a good reputation and is quite effective in settling issues. Her annual reports focus on a wide variety of problems, above all problems with the judiciary, administrative issues and issues with limitations on personal freedom. As with previous ombudspersons, however, Nussdorfer’s role has been occasionally constrained by the lack of interest among members of parliament and ministerial inactivity. In addition, some members of the political opposition and non-parliamentary groups have criticized her lack of action taken in several publicly renowned cases.

Media

#22

To what extent do media provide substantive in-depth information on decision-making by the government?

10
 9

A clear majority of mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions.
 8
 7
 6


About one-half of the mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions. The rest produces a mix of infotainment and quality information content.
 5
 4
 3


A clear minority of mass media brands focuses on high-quality information content analyzing government decisions. Several mass media brands produce superficial infotainment content only.
 2
 1

All mass media brands are dominated by superficial infotainment content.
Media Reporting
6
In Slovenia, the majority of both electronic and print mass media fail to provide high-quality information on government decisions and mostly focus on superficial subjects. However, there is a clear distinction to be made between the private and public media here. Whereas the private media, especially private electronic media, tend to focus on non-political information and infotainment, the public media, especially television and radio broadcasters, put more emphasis on providing high-quality information about government decisions. They even devote some attention to the debates preceding these decisions. This particularly applies when debates are initiated by the government.

Parties and Interest Associations

#16

How inclusive and open are the major parties in their internal decision-making processes?

10
 9

The party allows all party members and supporters to participate in its decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are open.
 8
 7
 6


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, all party members have the opportunity to participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are rather open.
 5
 4
 3


The party restricts decision-making to party members. In most cases, a number of elected delegates participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are largely controlled by the party leadership.
 2
 1

A number of party leaders participate in decisions on the most important personnel and issues. Lists of candidates and agendas of issues are fully controlled and drafted by the party leadership.
Intra-party Democracy
4
Slovenian party law leaves political parties with some organizational autonomy. Political parties are very heterogeneously organized, with some organized only on the micro level – that is, in single or several of the 212 municipalities – and others organized only on the macro level. Access to decision-making processes is normally restricted to party members. Whereas party members have the formal right to participate in decisions, the party leadership controls the candidate lists and the policy agendas. The details of internal party decision-making are not widely known to the public, as most decisions are made behind doors that are firmly shut.

To what extent are economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Business)
7
In Slovenia, with its strong corporatist tradition, economic-interest associations are very well organized and possess relatively strong analytical capacities. Most economic and social policies are discussed in detail in the Economic and Social Council, a tripartite body. Trade unions and employers’ associations do not have their own research institutes but cooperate with universities and think tanks. Trade unions’ analytical capacities have suffered from the fragmentation associated with the coexistence of seven separate union confederations.

To what extent are non-economic interest associations capable of formulating relevant policies?

10
 9

Most interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 8
 7
 6


Many interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 5
 4
 3


Few interest associations are highly capable of formulating relevant policies.
 2
 1

Most interest associations are not capable of formulating relevant policies.
Association Competence (Others)
8
Slovenia’s vibrant third sector has been quite active in monitoring government activities. Despite a decline in public funding, most interest associations have considerable policy knowledge, and many can rely on think tanks that involve various experts from the universities and research institutes in their work. Policy proposals developed by interest associations, although not numerous, have been featured prominently in the media.
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