Slovene parliament to confirm Cerar as prime minister on Monday

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2014 7:44 AM

By Marja Novak

LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - Slovenia's parliament is expected to vote in political novice Miro Cerar as the euro zone country's new prime minister on Monday, parliament speaker Doris Krzisnik said.

Cerar and his three-month-old centre-left SMC party won a snap election in July, giving the strong mandate his predecessors have lacked and potentially helping restore stability after years of turbulence and weak government.

The 50-year-old law professor has indicated he would rewrite reforms agreed with the European Union to fix the country's finances, and is against some of the big privatizations that the EU says are vital to a long-term fix for Slovenia.

If he is voted in on Monday, as expected, Cerar will have 15 days to form a cabinet which also needs parliament's approval.

Cerar is in coalition talks with the pensioners' party Desus and the Social Democrats, both of whom were members of the previous centre-left government, which narrowly avoided having to seek an international bailout for Slovenia's banks last year.

Details of the cabinet make-up remain sketchy. Cerar's party said on Thursday economy professor Dusan Mramor would be finance minister. Mramor was finance minister from 2002 to 2004 when he hiked taxes and kept a lid on the budget deficit.

Cerar's government will have to bring the budget deficit down to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) next year, as agreed with the European Commission, from about 4.2 percent seen in 2014.

The deficit soared to 14.7 percent of GDP last year when the government had to pour about 3.3 billion euros ($4.4 billion) of its own funds into a banking sector beset by bad loans.

Although Cerar is against selling strategic assets such as telecom operator Telekom Slovenia, airport Aerodrom Ljubljana, port Luka Koper and railways, he has expressed readiness to sell smaller state firms.

(Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Louise Ireland)