Slovenian president fails to name PM in fragmented parliament

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenian President Borut Pahor told parliament on Monday he would not nominate a candidate for prime minister as no party held majority support in parliament.

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

The anti-immigrant Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) won a June 3 election but lacks willing coalition partners to form a government in a highly fragmented parliament.

“In talks with parliamentary groups I established that no one enjoys sufficient support to be elected as prime minister,” Pahor told parliament in a letter.

Parliament is expected to convene on Friday when it will set another 14-day period during which members can nominate candidates for prime minister. Any candidate would need the support of an absolute majority of lawmakers to be elected - at least 46 out of 90 votes.

If no candidate is elected, lawmakers are given a further two days to nominate candidates before another round of voting in which only a majority of those present is needed.

If no candidate is elected then the president must call an election, which would take place in September or October.

But analysts said they expect a successful candidate to emerge in the last round of voting, in mid to late August.

They said Marjan Sarec, head of the second largest party the center-left List of Marjan Sarec (LMS), is likely to form a six-party coalition, securing a fragile majority that may not survive the whole four-year mandate.

Sarec has broadly agreed a coalition with four center-left parties, the Social Democrats, the Party of Modern Centre, the Party of Alenka Bratusek and pensioners’ party Desus, but the five parties together only hold 43 of 90 parliamentary seats.

He hopes to attract also the leftist party The Left or the conservative New Slovenia, which have 9 and 7 parliamentary seats respectively.

Most parties have rejected a coalition with the center-right SDS, led by a former two-time prime minister Janez Jansa.

Slovenia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday urged parties to form an effective government to deal with challenges including pension reform and reduction of public debt that reached 73.6 percent of GDP last year.

“High economic growth over the past years masked the fact that Slovenia did not do anything in the development area - it did not modernize the health system, the public sector nor undertake pension reform,” the chamber’s head, Sonja Smuc, said in a statement.

“We need an efficient government that will ... prepare Slovenia for challenges ahead,” she added.

Slovenia narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks in 2013 returned to growth a year later. The outgoing government forecast the economy to expand by 5.1 percent this year, boosted by exports, investments and household spending, versus 5 percent in 2017.

Reporting By Marja Novak; editing by John Stonestreet and Ros Russell