Slovenia entered a parliamentary crisis this week, as the Slovene People's Party (SLS) withdrew from the coalition government of Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek. The SLS is in negotiations to unite with the Slovene Christian Democrat Party (SKD). Drnovšek attached a vote of confidence to the parliament's review of his proposals to replace the eight exiting SLS ministers. The vote of confidence failed, with 55 out of 90 members of the parliament voting against.
With the failure of the vote of confidence, a period of 30 days begins in which the National Assembly may propose a new head of government. If a suitable candidate is not found, 30 days later the President must dissolve the parliament and call early elections. Regular elections are scheduled for October of this year.
Drnovšek spoke out in support of early elections, seeing them as the fastest solution. He also stated that he would not stand again as a candidate for the post of Prime Minister. Drnovšek has held the post for the past eight years.
The parties have begun seeking proposals for a new Prime Minster. The official proposal must be made by 15 April. SLS Chairman Marjan Podobnik has vocally supported current Minister of Defense Franci Demsar, while the other parties have their own candidates.
An added complication is the fact that a law which would introduce a majority system to elections is still under debate in parliament. The introduction of the new system is favored by all, but if early elections are called, they will probably be held according to the existing system.
Repercussions have already been felt. A visit by the European Union Enlargement Commissioner, Guenter Verheugen, has been postponed from 16 April to 18 May. NATO has also postponed a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to review Slovenia's membership bid from 13 April to 8 May. Other possible repercussions include the delay of Slovenia's accession to the EU, as parliament still must pass more than 60 laws this year to stay on course for accession in 2003.
Bugging devices were found at the headquarters of the Catholic Church in Maribor, during preparations for last year's papal visit. It has not yet been determined if the devices were planted during reconstruction in 1982, or more recently. The information was not released to the press earlier, so as not to affect the papal visit or the recent talks between the government and the Vatican.
Last Saturday, 8 April, Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana hosted a celebration commemorating the first decade of democratic elections in Slovenia. Among the speakers were the head of the National Assembly, Janez Podobnik, and the President of the first democratically elected Parliament, France Bučar. In his speech, Podobnik said the 8 April 1990 elections were the start of the process of Slovene independence and integration into the family of democratic states. Bučar expressed satisfaction with the decade-long evolution of the parliamentary system and declared that the 1990 elections made Slovenia a nation.
A demonstration will be held in the Italian city of Trieste (Trst) on 15 April, to protest against delays in passing a proposed law which would guarantee the rights of the Slovene minority in Italy. The planned demonstration has won the support of Trieste Mayor Riccardo Illy and the general public. This is suprising, because until only a few years ago Italians in Trieste did not even recognize the fact that the city was home to a Slovene community. The city administration is also planning a round-table meeting the day before the demonstration, in which Italian and Slovene representatives of Trieste's political, cultural and economic communities will participate in support of the Slovene minority
A Slovene delegation led by Minister for Small Business and Tourism Janek Razgoršek made a three-day visit to Montenegro this week. Razgoršek met with the Montenegrin Minister of Tourism, Vladimir Mitrović, and the two signed an agreement, whereby Montenegro will no longer demand visas for Slovene citizens and will work with Slovenia's Adria Airways to start regular flights between Ljubljana and Podgorica. Also, according to the agreement, Slovenia will open a cultural and information centre in Montenegro and take steps to ease visa restrictions for Montenegrins.
The Slovene corporation, Mercator, announced plans this week to build a trade centre in Belgrade, on the condition that it receive the same terms as domestic Serbian enterprises. In Yugoslavia, the Mercator trade centre in the heart of Belgrade's Novi Beograd neighborhood was the most famous business in the capital. Also this week, the first Mercator store in Croatia was opened in Pulj. Mercator holds 35 percent of the domestic Slovene market and is the largest Slovene corporation.
The nuclear power plant at Krško (JEK) will close for maintenance and improvements from 15 April to 15 June. It is expected that energy-production levels will be no less than last year, when JEK produced 4.5 billion kilowatt hours of electricity, which represented 40 percent of all electricity produced in Slovenia. Projections indicate that, in two years, it will be possible for JEK to make a competitive entry into the European electricity market.
On 15 April, 30 divers organized by Vivera, the Society for Underwater Activities, will clean the riverbed of the Ljubljanica for the sixth consecutive year. In announcing the event, head of Vivera Miro Potočnik called the Ljubljanica a "mirror of our history," stating that it is full of archeological finds, some of which date from the Bronze age. He called for legal protection to defend the artifacts, as any discoveries have become the property of the finder and much has already been sold abroad.
The city of Ljubljana celebrated its municipal holiday on 14 April. According to mayor Viktorija Potočnik, the festivities included the dedication of a monument to Slovene Impressionists in the city's Trnovo district. The day was also was marked by a technical meeting of city administrators of Ljubljana with their Viennese counterparts on matters connected with waste disposal.
Miha Hočevar's film Jebiga (Fuck It) is breaking box-office records around Slovenia. In its first four days of release, the film has been seen by more than 8500 people. In Ljubljana, six of eighteen showings were sold out, and more than 1500 saw it in Celje alone. The film will open in Koper on 13 April and in Novo Mesto on 20 April. Jebiga was one of four feature films that premiered at the Festival of Slovene Film in Portorož, held from 30 March to 1 April 2000
This week also marked the 131st anniversary of the birth of prominent Slovene Impressionist painter Rihard Jakopič. Among his accomplishments, Jakopič was responsible for the Jakopič Pavilion in Ljubljana's Tivoli park. Designed by noted urbanist Maks Fabiani, the Pavilion was an important cultural centre from its opening in 1909, until it was demolished to accommodate the relocation of railroad tracks in 1962. Jakopič is remembered on the 100 tolar bill.
Brian J Požun, 14 April 2000