In Slovenia, 2018 was a turbulent year. In March 2018, Prime Minister Miro Cerar, who had led a center-left coalition since September 2014, surprisingly resigned citing increased criticism from public sector unions and strong opposition to the government’s high-profile project of constructing a second railway line to the port of Koper. In the early parliamentary elections of June 2018, most traditional center-left parties, including Cerar’s Modern Center Party (SMC), lost votes. However, the rise of a new center-left party, the party of Marjan Šarec (LMŠ), a comedian turned mayor who came second in the presidential elections in 2017, allowed the center-left parties to reject the possibility of forming a ruling coalition with the winner of the elections, the center-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) of Janez Janša which won twice as many votes as its nearest rival.
Minority center-left government formed
In September 2018, the five center-left parties (List of Marjan Sarec, LMŠ; Modern Center Party, SMC; Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia, DeSUS; Social Democrats, SD; Party of Alenka Bratušek, SAB) formed a minority government, which is tolerated by the leftist Levica party.
Robust growth reduces
delayed or diminished
delayed or diminished
In 2017 and 2018, the recovery from the economic recession of 2008 – 2014 continued. The country’s robust economic growth, which was around 5% in 2017 and 2018, helped reduce the fiscal deficit and resulted in a strong decline in unemployment. At the same time, however, the favorable short-term economic situation reduced the pressure on the Cerar government to further policy reforms. Although Slovenia features the largest long-term sustainability gap of any EU member states, the proposed comprehensive health care reform was left to the next government to address. Regarding pensions, the Cerar government eventually agreed with the government’s social partners on the broad outline of a pension reform to be adopted in 2020 but refrained from implementing any controversial decisions. The tax reform eventually adopted in summer 2016 has been more modest than initially proposed and minor changes announced by the minister of finance for 2017 were only partially implemented. The promised privatization of Telekom Slovenija, the largest communication company in the country, fell victim to political opposition from within and outside the governing coalition. The same happened with the promised privatization of NLB, the largest Slovenian bank.
The quality of democracy has continued to suffer from widespread corruption. While the Cerar government implemented the Anti-Corruption Action Plan, which had been adopted in January 2015, and the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption upgraded its web platform and launched its successor Erar in July 2016, doubts about the political elite’s commitment to tackling corruption were raised by two developments. The first involved the non-transparent management of a government project to construct a second railway line between Divača and the port of Koper. The second involved investments by Magna, a Canadian-Austrian company that received large subsidies and unconditional support from the government to build a new car paint workshop near Maribor, but failed to deliver on its promise of creating several thousand jobs in the region.
Differences in opinion between the government and civil society organizations regarding financing the construction of the second railway line resulted in a referendum in September 2017, which was repeated because of irregularities on government’s side in May 2018. Nonetheless, despite the May 2018 referendum result, the project has not been abandoned, as voter turnout for both referendums was too low to make either vote binding.
Strongly corporatist tradition
Governance in Slovenia is marked by a strong corporatist tradition, which has had a mixed impact on the government’s strategic capacity. As economic stability and growth returned under the Cerar government, the unions have become less willing to accept further compromise and have once again become more active in organizing strikes. Slovenia’s strong corporatist tradition accounts in part for the lack of strategic planning and policymaking, as well as the government’s limited reliance on independent academic experts, a weak core executive, an increasingly politicized civil service and a largely symbolic use of RIA.
Few significant institutional reforms
Institutional reforms under the Cerar government were largely confined to a reshuffling of ministerial portfolios at the beginning of the term, and a strengthening of the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, the public body in charge of coordinating the use of EU funds. While the Cerar government adopted a strategy for the development of public administration in April 2015 and a separate strategy for the development of local government in September 2016, it failed to implement any serious reforms. As a result, conflicts between municipalities and the national government over the financing of public services have continued. The new Šarec government has not paid much attention to institutional reform.