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Holding politicians to account: Slovenia’s prime minister ousted

In early January the independent anti-corruption commission in Slovenia released a report critical of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition that found they had “systematically and repeatedly violated the law by failing to properly report their assets to the commission”, and for not reporting a private real-estate deal with a company that has government contracts. The news sparked a public outcry with calls for their resignations and shone a spotlight on the role of asset declarations in preventing corruption in politics. On 27 February Prime Minister Janez Janša was ousted in a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

People had taken to the streets to complain about the corruption in the government. The focus of their anger became Janša and other politicians facing allegations of corruption. But instead of justifying the increase in his assets, as reported in the anti-corruption commission report, Janša attacked the commission and its members.

Importance of asset disclosures

Simona Habič, president of the League of Transparency International Slovenia - Društvo Integriteta, Transparency International’s chapter in Slovenia, said:

“Asset disclosure is an important tool to hold politicians accountable. The Slovenian legislation regarding asset disclosure has barely changed in the last 20 years. We detected deficiencies in the law and the limited powers that the anti-corruption commission (CPC) has to investigate these issues and have called for changes in the legislation.”

This also highlights a broader problem within Slovenian institutions. In 2011 Transparency International Slovenia participated in a Europe-wide programme to assess the strengths of institutions across the continent. Slovenian politicians scored badly when it came to an assessment of their integrity and the report recommended that the legal system be strengthened. Our report, Money, Politics, Power: Corruption Risks in Europe, showed that only Slovenia and France among 27 European countries do not fully allow for public disclosure of assets.

Although Janša’s ruling SDS party issued an open letter disputing the anti-corruption commission’s findings and dismissing the agency as a tool of the country’s former communist leaders and biased, this did not stop the protests. The commission rebutted the SDS letter, citing it as an example of the disdain the country’s main political parties hold for the national institutions tasked with ensuring the rule of law.

On 27 February after the Slovenia parliament’s vote of no confidence, it named Alenka Bratusek from the opposition party as prime minister. This is a critical time. Thirty-six members of parliament have submitted a request for a review of the constitutionality of the Law on Integrity and Prevention of Corruption, under which the CPC has its mandate. The law was passed in 2010 and amended twice in 2011. Transparency International was instrumental in working for its passage.

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