Slovenia's left-leaning government was ousted in a parliament confidence vote Tuesday, further complicating Europe's debt crisis as the small eurozone nation becomes more politically unstable.
Prime Minister Borut Pahor's government faced the motion after months of disagreements between ruling coalition partners and several Cabinet resignations. The opposition has accused the government of corruption and mishandling the economy.
The vote in the 90-seat assembly was 51 against the government and 36 for, with other lawmakers abstaining or being absent.
Slovenian President Danilo Turk now can pick a new prime minister within seven days, who then has 30 days to form a new government. If this fails, early elections are called, probably in December.
The political deadlock may trigger a delay in the Slovenian parliamentary approval of the EU rescue fund for debt-strapped eurozone nations, known as the European Financial Stability Facility. The fund has to be ratified by all EU member states to be implemented.
The tiny Alpine nation has already demanded cash from Greece as collateral for its contributions to the fund, and is among the smaller eurozone nations, along with Slovakia, which are showing little empathy for countries that lack fiscal discipline.
Pahor told parliament after the vote that he had done his best to serve the country.
"I do not feel any bitterness," he said. "I have full faith in our people and the future of Slovenia."
Earlier he had urged the assembly to back his minority cabinet rather than go for an early ballot in the midst of European economic turmoil. Slovenia is one of 17 nations sharing the common euro currency.
"Due to the immense international financial crisis, Slovenia is more at risk if it plunges into a political crisis and the paralysis of the state over the elections," Pahor said.
Pahor's government has failed to push through two key reform bills _ a pension reform and labor market overhaul _ that were in line with EU standards.
Slovenian media are predicting that the new prime minister could be Janez Jansa, Pahor's center-right predecessor and a current opposition leader.
"The no-confidence vote is a significant step toward finding solutions for future development of the state," Jansa said after the vote.
Dusan Stojanovic contributed.