Slovenia

   

Executive Accountability

#19
Key Findings
With a public increasingly distrustful of the government and politicians, Slovenia falls into the middle ranks internationally (rank 19) with regard to executive accountability. Its score on this measure is unchanged relative to its 2014 level.

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. The independent and effective data-protection authority was created in 2005.

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

#31

To what extent are citizens informed of public policies?

10
 9

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


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


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

Most citizens are not aware of public policies.
Political 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. The latest Eurobarometer survey from 2018 reveals that trust in the national government (17%, compared to an EU28 average of 34%), the parliament (20%, compared to an EU28 average of 34%), political parties (11%, compared to an EU28 average of 19%) and public administration (40%, compared to an EU28 average of 50%) remains very low.

Citations:
European Commission (2017): Standard Eurobarometer 87. Brussels (http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/STANDARD/surveyKy/2142).

European Commission (2018): Standard Eurobarometer 89. Brussels (http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/STANDARD/surveyKy/2180).

Does the government publish data and information in a way that strengthens citizens’ capacity to hold the government accountable?

10
 9

The government publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 8
 7
 6


The government most of the time publishes data and information in a comprehensive, timely and user-friendly way.
 5
 4
 3


The government publishes data in a limited and not timely or user-friendly way.
 2
 1

The government publishes (almost) no relevant data.
Open Government
8
The Slovenian government launched a new and unified open data government portal, OPSI (Odprti podatki Slovenije), in late 2016. The new portal provides a central catalog of all the records and databases of Slovenian public bodies, and a broad range of datasets in machine-readable formats and with an Open Data license. Access to data is largely unrestricted and published in user-friendly formats.

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 2014 – 2018 parliamentary term, only three members of parliament did not belong to a parliamentary group. Since the early parliamentary elections in June 2018, all members of parliament have been part of 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 request 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 2017, members of parliament submitted a total of 1,409 questions to the government generally or to individual ministers specifically (361 less than in 2016), with 80% of questions submitted by opposition parties. Only three questions remained unanswered (3 more than in 2016).

Citations:
National Assembly (2018): Report on the Work of the National Assembly in 2017. Ljubljana (https://fotogalerija.dz-rs.si/datoteke/Publikacije/PorocilaDZ/Mandat_2014%E2%80%932018/Letno_porocilo_-_2017.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 and invited experts to the sessions of investigation committees.

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 seven commissions, 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 and the Šarec governments, 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.

Media

#23

To what extent do media in your country analyze the rationale and impact of public policies?

10
 9

A clear majority of mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies.
 8
 7
 6


About one-half of the mass media brands focus on high-quality information content analyzing the rationale and impact of public policies. 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 public policies. 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, but 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 issue agendas 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 issue agendas 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 issue agendas are fully controlled and drafted by the party leadership.
Intra-party Decision-Making
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 (i.e., in one 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. In the 2018 parliamentary elections, only two political parties managed to win more than 10% of votes.

To what extent are economic interest associations (e.g., employers, industry, labor) 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 (Employers & Unions)
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. In period under review, interest associations have been heavily involved in two major political issues: the Magna corporation investment in Maribor and the building of a second train track to the port of Koper. Some associations have been unable to withstand pressure from the government and opposition to their positions.

Independent Supervisory Bodies

#9

Does there exist an independent and effective audit office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent audit office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent audit office, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent audit office, but its role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an independent and effective audit office.
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 there exist an independent and effective ombuds office?

10
 9

There exists an effective and independent ombuds office.
 8
 7
 6


There exists an effective and independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


There exists an independent ombuds office, but its advocacy role is considerably limited.
 2
 1

There does not exist an effective and independent 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.

Is there an independent authority in place that effectively holds government offices accountable for handling issues of data protection and privacy?

10
 9

An independent and effective data protection authority exists.
 8
 7
 6


An independent and effective data protection authority exists, but its role is slightly limited.
 5
 4
 3


A data protection authority exists, but both its independence and effectiveness are strongly limited.
 2
 1

There is no effective and independent data protection office.
Data Protection Authority
9
Following the establishment of the Information Commissioner on 31 December 2005, Slovenia has an independent and effective data protection authority. The commissioner supervises the protection of personal data and access to public information. The office is led by Mojca Prelesnik, previously the general secretary to the parliament. The competencies of the Information Commissioner include: deciding on appeals against decisions by another body to refuse or dismiss a request for information; deciding on alleged violations of the right to access or re-use public information; supervising the implementation of legislation regulating the processing and protection of personal data; acting as an appellate body on individual complaints regarding a refusal to make personal information available to the respective individual.

There is also a government Office for the Protection of Classified Information. The office monitors the classification and protection of information, and ensures the development and implementation of classified information protection standards across government agencies, local community agencies, holders of public authorizations, NGOs and commercial companies that hold classified information. The office also issues permissions to access classified information and security certificates to legal persons.

Citations:
The Information Commissioner 2018 (https://www.ip-rs.si/en/about/information-commissioner/)
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