Orban ally poised for third stint as Slovenia’s premier

Anti-immigration populist Janez Jansa tapped to lead coalition government

Janez Jansa, president of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), addresses media during a press conference after a meeting with Slovenian president Borut Pahor  in Ljubljana on Wednesday. Photograph: Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty

Janez Jansa, president of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), addresses media during a press conference after a meeting with Slovenian president Borut Pahor in Ljubljana on Wednesday. Photograph: Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty

 

Slovenian president Borut Pahor has nominated Janez Jansa to be the country’s new prime minister, giving the controversial ally of Hungary’s nationalist premier Viktor Orban an opportunity to lead a government for the third time.

Mr Jansa was tapped to be premier on Wednesday, after his centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) formed an alliance with three other parties, a month after centre-left premier Marjan Sarec and his minority cabinet resigned in frustration at its inability to push through reforms.

The SDS is the largest single party in the Ljubljana parliament and the coalition proposed by Mr Jansa would hold 48 of its 90 seats, giving him a strong chance of winning a confirmation vote expected to take place next week.

Mr Jansa (61) failed to find coalition parties after winning a 2018 parliamentary election, having made many enemies during a long and eventful political career and alarmed liberals with his strident anti-immigration rhetoric.

His calls for tighter control over Slovenia’s and the region’s borders echo Mr Orban, who strongly backed Mr Jansa in the 2018 election. Allies of Mr Orban in politics and the media have also expanded their influence in Slovenia in recent years.

Compulsory military service

As well as tightening border security, Mr Jansa says his government’s priorities would include reintroducing compulsory military service and implementing “pro-family” policies to encourage Slovenians to have children.

The coalition agreement also lays out plans to raise pensions and allocate more money from the national budget to local councils.

“I would like to thank our coalition partners for having had in mind the interest of the citizens and the common good of the state,” Mr Jansa said on Wednesday.

Having emerged on the political scene when Slovenia was still part of Yugoslavia, Mr Jansa has served twice before as prime minister of his independent country and recovered from allegations of graft, bribery and money-laundering.

He resigned in 2013 over a corruption scandal and received a two-year jail sentence for bribery. The constitutional court later quashed that ruling and ordered a retrial, but the charges lapsed under Slovenia’s statute of limitations.

Mr Jansa has always denied wrongdoing and, like Mr Orban in Hungary, blamed powerful but murky liberal forces for his travails.

“I hope our collaboration will be constructive and for the benefit of our state and our people,” Mr Pahor said after nominating Mr Jansa. “I will neither support nor thwart the new government, but co-operate with it,” Mr Pahor added, while urging the populist and often combative premier-designate and all political forces to respect certain values.

“These are democracy, human rights, the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and the media, respect for human dignity,” he said.