Slovenia: Gotovi ste! - You’re finished!
Published on Sat, 2013-07-13 11:36
Slovenia has had the sharpest decline in GDP since 2008 of any euro-zone member apart from Greece, although it has so far avoided having to ask for external aid owing to having entered the crisis with a far lower sovereign debt burden. The new Government has indicated that it will continue to avoid a bailout by driving through changes including bank restructuring, privatizations, and pension and labour reforms. However, poverty has increased and many people are no longer able to meet basic needs; without state assistance, the poverty rate is estimated to rise to 24%. Those who can’t find work have dropped out of the labour force. As a result, Slovenia has joined countries where people have taken to the streets to call for a more just and balanced economy, more participatory democracy and the rule of law.
At the end of 2011, Slovenia’s shaky centre-left coalition of Social Democrats (SDs) and their partners led by Prime Minister Borut Pahor collapsed and after the elections in early 2012 a new right wing governing coalition was formed, led by the Slovene Democratic Party (SDS) with Prime Minister Janez Janšas. The post-election bargaining began rather surprisingly as the largest party, Positive Slovenia (PS), led by the mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković, failed to assemble a coalition. The new Government quickly began to show its leanings towards a more aggressive, neoliberal economics. Prime Minister Janša cited Slovakia’s neo-liberal Dzurinda governments (1998-2006) as a model to follow and has stuck to his word. However, the proposed structural adjustments are facing stiff resistance from many sides.
Apart from Greece, Slovenia has had the sharpest decline in GDP since 2008 of any euro-zone member, although it has so far avoided having to ask for external aid owing to having entered the crisis with a far lower sovereign debt burden. Moreover, the country's finance minister, Janez Susteršič, told CNN that Slovenia will be able to avoid a bailout despite the shrinking economy by driving through changes including bank restructuring, privatizations, and pension and labour reforms. Similar policy reforms were suggested to the Slovenian Government by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in their annual visit in early October. Yet Slovenia, an EU member that is believed to be even “more radical than the IMF when it comes to imposing cuts in public spending, lowering wages and reducing worker’s rights, can hardly be considered a guardian of the welfare state.”
At the end of 2012, Borut Pahor, the former Prime Minister, was elected President. Interestingly, the turnout was a record low (only 41.5%), while public protests against the political elites well as corruption and austerity measures, have been very strong, not only in the capital of Ljubljana, but also in smaller towns, particularly Maribor.
Source: Social Watch Report 2013, National report from Slovenia