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Slovenia - Government and Political Conditions (Notes)

Slovenia enjoys excellent relations with the United States and cooperates with it actively on a number of fronts. From 1998 to 2000, Slovenia occupied a non-permanent seat on the United Nations (UN) Security Council and in that capacity distinguished itself with a constructive, creative, and consensus-oriented activism. Slovenia has been a member of the UN since May 1992 and of the Council of Europe since May 1993. Slovenia signed an association agreement with the EU in 1996 and became a full EU member state on May 1, 2004. Slovenia officially became a member of NATO on March 29, 2004. Slovenia is a member of all major international financial institutions--the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development--as well as 40 other international organizations, among them the WTO, of which it is a founding member.

Since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia has instituted a stable, multi-party, democratic political system, characterized by regular elections, a free press, and an excellent human rights record. Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional republic. Within its government, power is shared between a directly elected president, a prime minister, and a bicameral legislature (Parliament). Parliament is composed of the 90-member National Assembly--which takes the lead on virtually all legislative issues--and the National Council, a largely advisory body composed of representatives from social, economic, professional, and local interests. The Constitutional Court has the highest power of review of legislation to ensure its consistency with Slovenia's constitution. Its nine judges are elected by the National Assembly for single 9-year terms.

Slovenia's first President, Milan Kucan, concluded his second and final term in December 2002. Prime Minister Janez Drnov?ek defeated opposition candidate Barbara Brezigar in the 2002 presidential elections by a comfortable margin and was inaugurated as Kucan's successor on December 22, 2002. Finance Minister Anton Rop succeeded Drnov?ek as Prime Minister in December 2002, and his center-left governing coalition commanded an almost two-thirds majority in the National Assembly until October 2004. In the October 2004 election, Janez Jansa?s center-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) made a strong showing, winning a relative majority with over 29% of the vote. Janez Jansa was sworn in as Prime Minister on November 9, 2004 and the National Assembly confirmed the new cabinet on December 3.

The government and most of the Slovenian polity share a common view of the desirability of a close association with the West, specifically of membership in both the EU and NATO. For all the apparent bitterness that divides left and right wings, there are few fundamental philosophical differences between them in the area of public policy. Slovenian society is built on consensus, which has converged on a social-democrat model. Political differences tend to have their roots in the roles that groups and individuals played during the years of communist rule and the struggle for independence.

As the most prosperous republic of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia emerged from its brief 10-day war of secession in 1991 as an independent nation for the first time in its history. Since that time, the country has made steady but cautious progress toward developing a market economy. Economic reforms introduced shortly after independence led to healthy economic growth. Despite the halting pace of reform and signs of slowing gross domestic product (GDP) growth today, Slovenes now enjoy the highest per capita income of all the transition economies of central Europe.

The Slovenes have pursued internal economic restructuring with caution. The Jansa government, elected on a platform supporting widespread economic reform, has found delivering on its ambitious promises more challenging than expected. The first phase of privatization (socially-owned property under the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, or S.F.R.Y., system) is now complete. However, sales of several remaining large state holdings, planned for several years now, have yet to come to fruition. The Jansa government has said that it is committed to seeing this final stage of privatization happen under its administration.

Foreign trade is very important to the Slovenian economy, with the annual volume of imports and exports exceeding 100% of GDP. Nearly two-thirds of Slovenia?s overall trade is with the EU and the vast majority of this is with Germany, Italy, Austria, and France. While the service sector is the largest part of the economy as a percentage of GDP, manufacturing accounts for most employment, with machinery and other manufactured products comprising the major exports. Labor force surveys put unemployment at 6.3% (2005). Inflation continued to decline from 5.6% in 2003 to 3.6% in 2004. Gross domestic product grew by about 4.6% in 2004 and grew at a 1.9% rate in 2005. Slovenia joined the Euro Zone in January 2007, the first and only of the 12 new EU members to join.

In the 15 years since independence, Slovenia has made tremendous progress establishing democratic institutions, enshrining respect for human rights, establishing a market economy, and adapting its military to Western norms and standards. In contrast to its neighbors, civil tranquility and strong economic growth have marked this period. Upon achieving independence, Slovenia offered citizenship to all residents, regardless of ethnicity or origin, avoiding a sectarian trap that has caught out many central European countries. However, debate continues on how best to accommodate an estimated 18,000 undocumented non-Slovenes who were resident in Slovenia at the time of independence, but whose records were 'erased' when they did not take citizenship. Many in this group have regularized their status or left the country; however, it is estimated that around 4000 cases remain unresolved. Slovenia willingly accepted nearly 100,000 refugees from the fighting in Bosnia and has since participated in international stabilization efforts in the region.

On the international front, Slovenia has advanced rapidly toward integration into the Euro-Atlantic community of nations. With successful NATO (66% in favor) and EU (91% in favor) referenda in March 2003, Slovenia achieved upon accession in 2004 its two primary foreign policy goals--membership in the EU and NATO. In 2005, Slovenia served as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office. Slovenia also participates in the Stability Pact and the Southeast Europe Cooperation Initiative (SECI). Slovenia is one of the focus countries for the U.S. southeast European policy aimed at reinforcing regional stability and integration. The Slovenian Government is well-positioned to be an influential partner for other southeast European governments at different stages of reform and integration, and has introduced initiatives towards this goal, including the establishment of the Center for European Perspective and the Bled Strategic Forum. To these ends, the U.S. urges Slovenia to maintain momentum on internal economic, political, and legal reforms, while expanding their international cooperation as resources allow. U.S. and allied efforts to assist Slovenia's military restructuring and modernization efforts are ongoing. Slovenia faces its largest challenge since independence when it will be the first of the ten 2004 EU newcomers to hold the EU?s rotating presidency in January 2008.

Principal Government Officials
President--Janez Drnov?ek
Prime Minister--Janez Jansa
Ambassador to the United States--Samuel Zbogar

Cabinet Ministers
Agriculture, Forestry, and Food--vacant
Culture--Vasco Simoniti
Defense--Karl Erjavec
Economy--Andrej Vizjak
Education and Sport--Milan Zver
Environment and Spatial Planning--Janez Podobnik
Finance--Andrej Bajuk
Foreign Affairs--Dimitrij Rupel
Health--Andrej Brucan
Higher Education and Technology--Jure Zupan
Interior--Dragutin Mate
Justice--Lovro Sturm
Labor, Family and Social Affairs--Marjeta Cotman
Public Administration--Gregor Virant
Transport--Janez Bozic
Minister without Portfolio responsible for Regional Development--Ivan Zagar

Slovenia maintains an embassy in the United States at 1525 New Hampshire Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (tel.: (202) 667-5363; fax: (202) 667-4563).

Facts at a Glance: Geography - People - Government - Economy - Communications - Transportation - Military - Climate - Current Time - Ranking Positions - Slovenian Tolar Exchange Rates
Notes and Commentary: People - Economy - Government and Political Conditions - Historical Highlights - Foreign Relations - Relations with U.S.

Facts at a Glance
Current Time
Ranking Positions
Slovenian Tolar Exchange Rates

Notes and Commentary
Government and Political Conditions
Historical Highlights
Foreign Relations
Relations with U.S.

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