June 22, 2018 / 2:56 PM / 3 months ago

Slovenian parliament elects speaker as coalition talks continue

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - The Slovenian parliament elected Matej Tonin, head of the conservative New Slovenia party (NSI), as parliamentary speaker on Friday in its first session after the June 3 election.

However, the shape of the future government coalition remains unclear as parties continue coalition talks. President Borut Pahor must nominate a candidate for prime minister within 30 days.

The center-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) won the most votes at the election and holds 25 of 90 parliamentary seats. But the anti-immigration SDS lacks potential coalition partners as most other parties say that they will not go into a coalition with it.

The second largest party, the center-left List of Marjan Sarec (LMS), is holding talks with most parties other than the SDS and managed to secure majority support to its nomination of Tonin for speaker.

Tonin’s nomination was supported by the LMS, NSI and four other center-left parties: the Social Democrats, Party of Modern Centre, pensioners’ party Desus and the Party of Alenka Bratusek.

The six parties together hold 50 parliamentary seats. After being elected, Tonin told parliament he would be ready to resign if needed once the next governing coalition is formed.

“This is the outline of the future coalition which we want, that is, a centrist, development coalition, focused on the future and not the past,” Sarec, whose party ran for parliament for the first time this month, told reporters before the vote.

But analysts said it was impossible to predict whether Sarec would indeed manage to form the coalition as his party, which holds 13 seats, needs to team up with at least four others to secure a majority in parliament.

“All options are still open, even the possibility of an early election,” said Peter Jancic, editor of political website Spletni Casopis.

One of the first tasks of the next government will be to prepare a sale of the largest bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka. Slovenia committed itself to the sale in exchange for European Commission approval of state aid to the lender in 2013.

The government will also have to reform the inefficient national health system and prepare pension reform to ease strains on the budget posed by a rapidly aging population.

Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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