Books on Slovenia
% of GDP
Update No: 090 - (27/10/04)
Upset victory for opposition in parliamentary elections
Slovenian voters on October 3rd ousted the government of Prime Minister Anton
Rop, who was forced to admit defeat in national elections handing victory to the
centre right Slovenian Democratic Party.
Slovenia's centre-right opposition coalition has won a narrow upset victory in
the national elections five months after the former Yugoslav state joined the
European Union. The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and its ally, the
conservative New Slovenia (NSi) party, had taken 38 percent of the vote compared
to the governing centre-left coalition's 37 percent, the electoral commission
said after 99 percent of votes were counted. The SDS-led group would take 38
seats in the 90-member parliament, while 37 seats would go to the three parties
that make up the government.
Prime Minister Anton Rop's Liberal Democracy party (LDS), which has held power
in the former Yugoslav state for nearly 12 years, managed to take only 22.8
percent. The prime minister admitted defeat not long after voting closed.
"It seems very likely that the Liberal Democracy party (LDS) will move to
the opposition. We are firmly decided to work hard within the opposition,"
Rop said. His defeat came only five months after leading the former Yugoslav
state into the European Union.
It was Rop's first test at the polls as frontman of the centre-left Slovenian
Liberal Democracy (LDS) party after taking over as prime minister and party
president two years ago when Janez Drnovsek resigned both jobs to become the
Analysts have said the right-wing has managed to eat into the prime minister's
support in the past year and a half by challenging it on issues with a
nationalist undertone. These include a row about building a mosque in the
capital Ljubljana, and a referendum on restoring citizenship to some 18,000
members of fellow former Yugoslav states that were wiped off the register when
the communist federation broke up.
The close results mean that neither bloc had taken enough votes to form a
government on its own, putting the independent Slovenian Nationalist Party in
the position of kingmaker with its estimated 6.3 percent of the vote.
President Drnovsek, who has to appoint a candidate to put together a new
government, had earlier said that if exit polls proved correct, the lack of a
clear majority would make it difficult for him to do so. "If these results
prove to be true, it will be harder for me to choose the candidate for creating
a new government and he himself (the candidate) will have a tougher task when
preparing a coalition," Drnovsek said.
Likely new premier indicates no new foreign policy
After Prime Minister Rop admitted defeat, SDS leader Janez Jansa said if called
upon to form the next government he would pursue a "new policy"
domestically, but keep foreign policy in the new EU and NATO member on course.
"Slovenia stepped today on a new way ... that new policy, if we get to
create the new government, will be a policy of continuity for all the good
things done so far, and a policy of changes where the managing of the state was
not aimed at progress."
"Our foreign policy will be based on our alliances, the relations we
recently established and which grant us our future."
Problems with Croatia
Voting took place against the backdrop of a limited journalists' strike and a
new twist in the country's troubled relations with neighbouring Croatia. Zagreb
chose election day to create a protected fishing and ecological area off its
Adriatic coast, which Slovenia has complained would leave it without access to
international shipping waters.
The Piran Bay area is also highly contentious. The issue heated up just before
the elections when Croatian border guards arrested a group of men led by a
member of the Slovenian Parliament, Janez Podobnik of the opposition Slovenian
People's Party, in the disputed Piran Bay area after they refused to show their
identity cards. The arrests were filmed by a television crew and broadcast on
Slovenian television the same evening.
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana on 5 October urged Croatia and Slovenia to
solve their border row through dialogue. "It should be solved in the spirit
of Europe. That is the spirit of dialogue, negotiations, the spirit which is the
opposite of violence," Solana told journalists after meeting Croatian Prime
Minister Ivo Sanader in Zagreb.
The neighbouring states reached an agreement on the disputed Piran Bay area in
2001, but the deal was widely unpopular in Croatia and Zagreb never ratified it.
Rop's handling of long-standing territorial disputes with Croatia had been
criticised by the SDS in the election campaign, along with his handling of the
economy, road infrastructure problems and pension issues.
The prime minister, who led the country into the EU and NATO this year, has
countered that his government helped to set Slovenia on the path of becoming one
of the EU's most developed countries.
The right-wing, which holds four out of Slovenia's seven seats in the European
parliament, is considered pro-Europe and unlikely to change policies towards
Mobitel to launch UMTS services
An advertising campaign was scheduled recently to launch the sale of
third-generation mobile telephone services, UMTS, by the leading Slovenian
While the campaign will at first be aimed only at students, it will become
available to all subscribers in the near future. Mobitel is the only Slovenian
mobile services provider with the UMTS licence. The company purchased it in
November 2001, paying 22 billion tolars (91.7m Euro) for it. The UMTS signal is
in a majority of Slovenian towns or by over 50 per cent of the population,
Mobitel said. Where UMTS signal is not available, the mobile phones
automatically switch to GSM network, STA reported.
Slovenia, Slovakia mull Luka Koper link
Slovenian and Slovakian transport ministers discussed ways to improve
cooperation in transport, in particularly establishing a rail connection between
Slovenia's port of Koper and Slovakia, as they met in Ljubljana on September
9th. After holding talks with Slovakia's Minister of Transport, Post and
Telecommunications Pavol Prokopovic, Slovenian Minister Marko Pavliha said that
the two countries are cooperating well, but there was space for improvement.
Prokopovic echoed this statement, saying that the rail connection is one of the
main opportunities for strengthening ties in this field. "My colleague and
I have agreed to hold talks with Slovenian and Slovakian railways on the
establishment of a competitive way of transporting cargo through Luka Koper,"
the Slovakian minister told STA. Pavliha stressed the importance of Luka Koper
for Slovenia and the wider region, especially given its position at the very
start of the fifth pan-European route.
"The construction of a second railway line between Koper and Divaca will
allow Luka Koper to double its capacity in cargo transported by rail,"
Pavliha said. The railways connection between Slovenia and Slovakia received a
boost with the opening of a direct line between Hungary and Slovenia via Hodos
three years ago. Meanwhile, Prokopovic also announced the two countries would be
exchanging experiences in various fields of transport policy. For one, Slovakia
will present its model of privatising Bratislava airport, he said.
Slovenian Railways to open freight train to Istanbul
As part of its efforts to place Ljubljana at the centre of European rail
transport routes, Slovenian Railways will soon launch a new heavy goods train on
the Ljubljana-Istanbul route, STA reported recently.
The freight line between the Slovenian capital and Turkey's largest city is part
of the Network Europe project of European heavy goods railway connections.
Slovenian Railways has already established heavy goods connections between the
Slovenian capital and Munich, Bologna, Belgrade and Milan.
The link with Istanbul means that the company will be connected to Asia's
gateway. The first "East Express" train was scheduled to leave
Ljubljana on September 30th. On this occasion, the general managers of national
railway companies from Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia-Montenegro, Bulgaria and Turkey
are to sign an agreement on the connection. The surge in freight operations has
helped Slovenian Railways.
The company made a profit of 613m tolars (2.55m Euro) in the first six months of
the current year compared to a loss of one billion tolars (4.17m Euro) in the
same period of 2003. Revenues from freight operations went up by 17 per cent in
the first half of this year, Slovenian Railways' general manager, Borut
Miklavcic, said. Higher revenues from freight coupled with job cuts have helped
turn Slovenian Railways into a profit-making company, he explained. As part of
its expansion in freight operations, the company also plans to establish a
connection with Prague and possibly other European destinations.
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