Slovenes stop work as PM told to quit


Tens of thousands of Slovenians held a strike yesterday against austerity measures, as the government of prime minister Janez Jansa split and teetered closer to collapse.

Unions said that about 100,000 public sector staff stayed away from work, closing schools and universities, forcing hospitals to run scaled-back services and causing long delays at the former Yugoslav republic’s border crossings.

That presaged an announcement that the Civic List party was withdrawing from Mr Jansa’s five-party coalition over a corruption scandal that has embroiled him.

The decision leaves the government with a minority in parliament and increases pressure on Mr Jansa to resign or call snap elections.

Resignation urged

The head of Slovenia’s anti-corruption commission has urged Mr Jansa to step down, for allegedly failing to declare some €200,000 in assets.

Mr Jansa denies wrongdoing and says the omission was a simple mistake.

He and his party have rejected calls for his resignation, saying it would destabilise the country of two million people at a difficult time.

“We’ve decided to leave the coalition,” said Civic List leader Gregor Virant.

“About criticism that we are causing a political crisis, I can say that the crisis started when the anti-corruption commission presented its findings.”

Mr Virant said he would no longer serve as parliamentary speaker, and another Civic List member, Janez Sustersic, would step down as finance minister.

Mr Jansa’s centre-right cabinet wants to lay off many state workers and cut the salaries of the remainder by 5 per cent this year, as the euro zone member seeks to stabilise its finances, reduce its budget deficit and overhaul its banking sector to avoid taking a bailout from Brussels.