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Slovenians vote to elect new government

04. December 2011. | 08:33

Source: Emg.rs

Slovenia's centre-left Prime Minister Borut Pahor is expected to become the latest eurozone leader to lose power over the debt crisis, with opinion polls predicting a heavy election defeat.

Slovenia's centre-left Prime Minister Borut Pahor is expected to become the latest eurozone leader to lose power over the debt crisis, with opinion polls predicting a heavy election defeat.

Promising structural reforms and spending cuts, former prime minister Janez Jansa of the centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) is tipped to succeed him, although the latest survey ahead of the vote showed his lead narrowing.

The poll, conducted by Ninamedia, gave the SDS 28.5 per cent of the vote, with Positive Slovenia, a new centre-left party founded by Ljubljana's popular millionaire mayor Zoran Jankovic, on 24.6 per cent.

Pahor's Social Democrats were seen crashing to third place with only 14.3 per cent support.

The debt crisis in the 17-nation eurozone has already led to a change in government in a string of countries including Portugal, Greece, Italy and, most recently, in Spain.

Although still in a far better state than many euro members since joining in 2007, Slovenia's national debt as a proportion of output has roughly doubled to 45.5 per cent, according to the European Commission.

The three main credit agencies have cut their ratings on Slovenian debt in recent months, and last month interest rates hit seven per cent - a level that forced other countries to seek outside support.

Pahor's government lost a confidence vote in September after major reforms to the creaking pension system were rejected in a referendum, prompting early elections after just two years in office.

'In the first 100 days we will take the necessary measures to cut the spiral of pessimism, the lack of ambition and the drought of financial resources,' the SDS manifesto promises.

If he wins enough votes, Jansa will have a free hand to 'act very quickly', Corinne Deloy from the Centre for International Studies and Research (CERI) in Paris told AFP.

But she added: 'His grace period will be very short.'

Jansa, 53, is set to assume power under dramatically different circumstances from his first term in 2004-08 when Slovenia enjoyed stellar growth, an unemployment rate under seven per cent and solid public finances.

The global financial crisis (GFC) savaged the export-oriented economy - output slumped by 8.1 per cent in 2009 - and the government has been paying for it ever since.

Growth figures published on Wednesday showed Slovenia perilously close to recession, with output shrinking by 0.2 per cent in the third quarter after stagnating in the second and contracting by 0.1 per cent in the first.

Unemployment hit 11.5 per cent in September, and the central bank has warned it may have to cut its growth forecast for 2012 again soon from the current projection of 1.3 per cent.

The outgoing government forecast a budget deficit of 5.5 per cent of output this year.

About 1.7 million people are eligible to vote, with turnout forecast as high as 70 per cent.


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