October 9, 2018 / 4:18 PM / 9 days ago

Slovenian parliament rejects Dolenc for central bank governor

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia’s parliament on Tuesday rejected the central bank’s deputy governor, Primoz Dolenc, as the official candidate to take over as bank chief after most parties gave him the thumbs-down even though he had the backing of the president.

FILE PHOTO: Primoz Dolenc, candidate for governor of the Slovenia's central bank speaks in the parliament in Ljubljana, Slovenia, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Srdjan Zivulovic/File Photo

With the minority center-left government unable to agree on a joint candidate, the outcome suggested it would be some time before the highly-sensitive top banking job can now be filled.

Dolenc, deputy governor since 2016, was nominated for the job last month by President Borut Pahor but received support on Tuesday from only 30 parliamentary members with 39 voting against him in a secret ballot.

Slovenia lost its vote on the European Central Bank’s governing council in April, when former governor Bostjan Jazbec resigned to take a position on the EU’s Single Resolution Board. It will regain the vote only after it elects a governor.

Allegations of money laundering have plagued Slovenia’s banking sector since it came close to seeking an international bailout in 2013.

Pahor’s office said after the vote that the president planned to open a three-week tender for new candidates after which he will hold discussions with parliamentary parties and try to come up with a new name “as soon as possible”.

Anyone can propose a candidate for the governor but the president can then choose among the proposed candidates or name his own candidate. Slovenian law does not set a deadline for when a new central bank governor must be elected.

Jozef Horvat, of opposition party conservative New Slovenia, told parliament ahead of the vote he believed Dolenc’s record at the bank showed his credentials were lacking.

“It is our belief that the Bank of Slovenia did not perform its supervisory function (over the country’s banking sector) well ...,” he told lawmakers.

Analysts said it will be difficult for Pahor to find a candidate who will get the necessary support because of the balance of power in the new parliament elected in June.

Even if the five parties of the government coalition, which hold 43 out of 90 parliamentary seats, agree on a candidate, that person would also need at least three opposition votes to be elected.

“This vote is not a typical indication of how things will go in the future since Dolenc did not even enjoy support of the prime minister’s party LMS but it indicates that the government will find it hard to secure majority in parliament for its projects,” Meta Roglic, a political analyst of daily Dnevnik, told Reuters.

Reporting by Marja Novak; editing by Richard Balmforth

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