Slovenia president gives largest party one more week to form coalition

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - The head of Slovenia’s largest parliamentary party has until July 19 to tell the president if he can form a government, after voters elected a splintered legislature on June 3.

FILE PHOTO: Borut Pahor President of Slovenia attends the Human Rights Council one day after the U.S. announced their withdraw at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

President Borut Pahor gave the deadline on Thursday to two-time former prime minister Janez Jansa, head of the center-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) which won the most parliamentary seats but lacks coalition partners.

It holds 25 out of 90 parliamentary seats and so far only the conservative New Slovenia (NSI) and the Slovenian Nationalist Party said they would be willing to join it in a coalition, making a total of 36 seats, well short of a majority.

The six other parliamentary parties have said they would not co-operate with the anti-immigrant SDS.

“I will send an invitation (for coalition talks) to all parliamentary parties today,” Jansa told a news conference after meeting Pahor.

Pahor said he expects Jansa to tell him on July 19 whether he accepts the nomination for prime minister as Pahor has to send the nomination to parliament by July 22.

If Jansa rejects the nomination Pahor will check with the head of the second largest party, the center-left List of Marjan Sarec (LMS), to see if he has managed to build a parliamentary majority.

LMS is holding talks with the NSI and four center-left parties, seeking a six-party coalition that would have 50 parliamentary seats.

If no one accepts the nomination for prime minister, on July 23 Pahor will inform parliament that he will nominate no one, which would give members of parliament another 14 days to nominate candidates.

“Sarec seems to be closer to forming a government (than Jansa) but the coalition of six parties would not be very stable,” political analyst Borut Hocevar told Reuters, adding that early elections were a possibility.

Pahor called on parties to talk with the SDS, saying that would create “a general political environment based on talking and cooperation rather than ... exclusion”.

One of the first tasks of the new government will be to prepare the privatization of the country’s largest bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), which Slovenia has to sell in exchange for EU approval of state aid to NLB in 2013.

The government will also have to reform the health and pension systems to ease the burden of the rapidly ageing population on the state budget.

Reporting by Marja Novak; Editing by Robin Pomeroy