Slovakia

Consolidated Democracy
73
100
DEMOCRACY-PERCENTAGE Democracy Percentage 73.21 100
DEMOCRACY-SCORE Democracy Score 5.39 7
Last Year's Democracy Percentage & Status
73 100 Consolidated Democracy
The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 1 the lowest. The Democracy Score is an average of ratings for the categories tracked in a given year. The Democracy Percentage, introduced in 2020, is a translation of the Democracy Score to the 0-100 scale, where 0 equals least democratic and 100 equals most democratic.

header1 Score changes in 2016

  • Independent Media rating declined from 5.75 to 5.50 due to the purchase of the country’s largest news publisher, Delo, at a heavily discounted price by a politically well-connected firm without previous media-ownership experience, and due to the continued economic crisis in the journalism industry.
  • Judicial Framework and Independence rating declined from 6.25 to 6.00 due to the collapse of key high-profile cases concerning high-level corruption and money laundering after years of prosecution.

header2 Executive Summary

By Miro Haček

After several years of political and economic turmoil, and triple elections in 2014, the year 2015 brought some long-sought political peace to Slovenia. Despite a number of political slip-ups, the new left-wing coalition government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Miro Cerar and his Modern Centre Party (SMC), achieved some measure of political stability in the country. Key contributing factors were Slovenia’s continued economic recovery, with moderate GDP growth of 2.7 percent in 2015 and a drop in unemployment to 12.3 percent in September. At the same time, some structural problems remained unsolved. The burgeoning public debt now amounts to 80 percent of the country’s GDP, up from 60 percent in 2013, and GDP per capita is still 3.6 percent below 2008 levels.1

Despite some visible cracks and differences in opinion, the ruling coalition managed to stay together and, in some instances, even cooperate with the (divided) opposition.2 At the same time, the government experienced the highest number of ministerial resignations of any government in its first year of office since the country gained independence in 1991. This, as well as the lack of standards and transparency in recruiting candidates to top political positions, fueled public frustration with the government. In fact, the new government failed to gain considerable public support, and trust in the government and key political institutions fell to the lowest level among citizens in all of the OECD member countries.

The privatization of state assets progressed slowly, marked by struggles within the ruling coalition to reach a consensus on what key infrastructure should remain state-owned. Disagreements arose over the privatization of state-owned companies such as bank Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor (NKBM), which was finally sold to the private equity fund Apollo and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in summer 2015. Although the Cerar government initially decided that state-owned Telekom Slovenia, the country’s largest communications company, should also be sold, the transaction did not materialize, partly because of political pressures from the Cerar coalition partners and left-center opposition parties.

The country’s judicial framework and its credibility suffered in 2015 with the collapse of high-profile anticorruption cases due to lack of evidence or poor judicial procedure. After Janez Janša’s temporary release from prison in December 2014, the Constitutional Court made a final decision on the Patria case convictions in late April 2015 and repealed the guilty verdicts against Janša and the two co-defendants. Later, the District Court of Ljubljana decided to drop all criminal charges against the three defendants, effectively ending the Patria case without any convictions. Another high-profile reversal was the case against former CEO of Istrabenz Holding Company Igor Bavčar, who was sentenced to seven years in prison for corporate crimes, money laundering, and abuse of power in 2014. In September 2015, the Supreme Court quashed part of the verdict against Bavčar and his co-defendant and ordered a retrial. The Supreme Court also ruled in favor of Janša’s and former Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Jankovič’s appeals regarding a 2013 report by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC), which they claimed had violated their constitutional rights.

Relations with neighboring Croatia fell to a new low as the Croatian parliament decided to abandon the arbitration by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague regarding the countries’ border dispute. This happened after the Croatian daily Vecernji List published excerpts from a leaked tape in which Slovenian arbitrator Jernej Sekolec discussed the case, its probable outcomes, and strategy with Simona Drenik, who represents Slovenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs before the court. Both resigned a day later.3 As a consequence, the Croatian government decided to withdraw from the case altogether despite committing itself to arbitration before entering the European Union (EU). Meanwhile, the Slovenian government insists that the arbitration process is the only option to solve the border dispute.

Croatia’s refusal to respect EU rules and procedures during the refugee crisis starting in September 2015 also harmed bilateral relations. Tens of thousands of migrants tried to cross the Schengen border between Croatia and Slovenia, mostly without EU visas or valid travel documents. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs) provided significant aid to thousands of migrants in the form of necessary provisions and medical assistance. The meeting of leaders in late October finally brought some much-needed cooperation between countries on the Western Balkans migrant route, as well as EU assistance with finances and extra border guards. In November and December, the number of migrants dropped compared to previous months.

In the media sector, the financial management company FMR, a key owner of the Slovenian industrial conglomerate Kolektor, acquired Slovenia’s largest news publisher, Delo, at auction in June 2015 for €7.3 million. The publisher’s previous owner, brewery Pivovarna Laško, put its 100-percent stake in Delo on sale in line with a restructuring process that required it to offload non-core assets. Pivovarna Laško paid €95 million for Delo more than ten years ago. With little to no media-ownership experience, FMR is owned by the politcally well-connected Stojan Petrič, who is under investigation by the National Bureau of Investigation for alleged economic crimes. In August and September, news of layoffs at public broadcasters and daily newspapers confirmed a deep crisis in Slovenian journalism. The number of regularly employed journalists decreased by 11 percent from 2008 to 2013, and decreased by another 16 percent in 2014 alone. At the same time, the number of self-employed journalists increased by 25 percent.4

Outlook for 2016: Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s center-left government stands a good chance of bringing the country additional stability and returning some lost trust to the Slovenian political system in 2016, especially if political slip-ups become less frequent and the government initiates necessary reforms of the labor market and health, judiciary, and tax systems. The opposition is divided between two right-wing and two left-wing parties, and thus unlikely to be an effective hindrance. Still, Cerar has the chance to prove that his government can cooperate effectively with the opposition, at least regarding important reforms, something that has been absent from Slovenian politics over the past decade. The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague is expected to reach a ruling in the Slovenian-Croatian border dispute arbitration case, but it is unclear how it will do so and whether the ruling would be implemented.

  • 1. “Rast BDP in nacionalni računi” [GDP growth and national accounts], Statistical Office of Slovenia, 31 August 2015, http://www.stat.si/statweb#graphBDP
  • 2. The current ruling coalition consists of three left-wing political parties (Party of Modern Centre with 36 MPs, Democratic Party of Pensioners with 11 MPs and Social Democrats with 6 MPs). The opposition is highly divided and consists of three parties: the left-wing United Left with 6 MPs, and right-wing parties Slovenian democratic party with 21 MPs and New Slovenia – Christian Democrats with 5 MPs. Lastly, there are 4 unaffilliated MPs.
  • 3. “Croatia considers dropping border arbitration with Slovenia,” Daily Mail, 22 July 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-3172272/Croatia-consid…
  • 4. Erika Repovž, “Večja odpuščanja v medijih se nadaljujejo tudi letos” [Major layoffs in media continue also in this year], Delo, 21 August 2015, http://www.delo.si/gospodarstvo/trg-dela/vecja-odpuscanja-v-medijih-se-…
National Democratic Governance 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Considers the democratic character of the governmental system; and the independence, effectiveness, and accountability of the legislative and executive branches. 5.005 7.007
  • Slovenia’s left-wing coalition government, formed in September 2014 under the leadership of Prime Minister Miro Cerar and his renamed Modern Centre Party (previously Party of Miro Cerar), remained largely stable during its first year in office, although a lack of transparency and potential corruption bogged down progress. A survey by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that, at 18 percent, Slovenia has the lowest level of public trust in the government among all OECD member countries. This figure is down from 48 percent in 2007.1
  • Public frustration with the government was fueled by a number of ministerial resignations amid controversy and the lack of standards and transparency in recruiting candidates to top political positions. Supervizor, a new online tool created by the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC) to provide transparency in public expenditures, revealed that the new minister for education, science, and sport, Stanka Setnikar Cankar, had received contractual payments from public sources amounting to more than €600,000 in addition to her salary while working as a professor and dean of the Faculty of Administration.2 She resigned days after the revelation, but her successor, Klavdija Markež, stepped down after only a week following media reports that she had plagiarized her graduate thesis.
  • Positive economic trends in 2015 relieved some pressure on the government, but a high debt-to-GDP ratio looms on the horizon as a potential issue. The Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development expected Slovenia’s GDP to rise by 2.7 percent in 2015,3 but the national public debt is forecast to balloon to an all-time high of 81.6 percent of GDP.4 Unemployment dropped to 12.3 percent in September, down from 12.6 percent in October 2014 and 14.2 percent in January 2014, in part due to active government policies and programs aimed at jobseekers.5
  • The privatization of state assets has progressed slowly as the ruling coalition struggled to reach a consensus on what key infrastructure should remain state-owned. It was therefore no surprise that cracks started to appear in the coalition as it made decisions in 2015 on the privatization of such state-owned companies as the country’s second-largest bank, Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor (NKBM), which was finally sold to the private equity fund Apollo and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in the summer.6 The Cerar government had initially decided that state-owned Telekom Slovenia, the country’s largest communications company, should also be sold, but the transaction did not materialize, partly because of political pressures from the Cerar coalition partners and left-center opposition parties. In April, Defense Minister Janko Veber was asked to resign after ordering an investigation into the security implications of the privatization of Telekom Slovenia. As of year’s end, the privatization still had not gone through after a deal with a UK private equity firm collapsed in August.7
  • Both politicians and the public eagerly awaited the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague concerning the Slovenian-Croatian border dispute. The case is significant for both countries not only as a means to close a two-decade-old dispute that has poisoned domestic politics but also as a potential model for the resolution of difficult issues in the wider Western Balkan region. In late July, however, the Croatian daily Vecernji List published excerpts from a leaked tape in which a Slovenian judge on the arbitration panel discussed the probable outcomes of the case with a representative of the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Slovenian arbitrator resigned, and the Croatian government then withdrew its judge from the five-person panel.8 Despite the appointment of new international arbiters to the panel,9 Croatia withdrew from the arbitration altogether and insisted that the EU had no role to play in resolving the border dispute.
  • As a result of the incident, relations between Slovenia and Croatia fell to perhaps the lowest point since their independence, and were further soured by bilateral disputes over the refugee crisis in October 2015, when Slovenian and Croatian politicians accused each other of noncompliance with bilateral agreements and EU regulations. The meeting of leaders in late October finally brought some much-needed cooperation between countries on the Western Balkans migrant route, as well as EU help with finances and extra border guards.10 The number of migrants dropped in November and December compared to previous months, but nonetheless some 375,000 migrants entered Slovenia from October 15 to December 31.11
  • The Patria corruption case against the president of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and former prime minister Janez Janša (see “Corruption”) continued to cast a shadow on national politics. Janša was temporarily released from prison in December 2014, and the Constitutional Court repealed the guilty verdicts against him and his two co-defendants in April 2015 because of serious procedural violations.12 In late August, the District Court of Ljubljana dropped all criminal charges against the three defendants.13
Electoral Process 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Examines national executive and legislative elections, the electoral framework, the functioning of multiparty systems, and popular participation in the political process. 6.507 7.007
  • National referendums have become a feature of Slovenian politics and were a source of constitutional controversy in 2015. In March, the National Assembly adopted a bill providing equal marriage rights to same-sex couples. Soon after the assembly passed the bill, “For the Children,” a coalition opposing the measure, began collecting signatures for a referendum. The coalition amassed 48,146 in just four days, clearing the 40,000-signature threshold for referendums established in 2013.1 The National Assembly, however, voted to halt the action, arguing that the constitution prohibits referendums on human rights issues and that marriage is a basic human right no matter the gender of the spouses.2 In response, the coalition filed a complaint with the Constitutional Court, arguing that the bill on marriage equality does not correct a human rights violation, so a referendum cannot be banned.3 In late October, the court ruled in a 5:4 vote that the referendum could continue.4 The vote was held on December 20, 2015. New referendum rules adopted in 2013 enable a law to be scrapped by referendum when the majority vote in the referendum is against the law and 20 percent of the electorate participates in the referendum. Both requirements were met convincingly: turnout was 36.49 percent, and 63.51 percent of voters participating voted against the law.5 The referendum showed an obvious cleavage between most urban areas of Slovenia, which supported the marriage-equality legislation, and the rest of the country, which voted against it.6
  • The Patria case involving the president of SDS and former prime minister Janez Janša (see “Corruption”) also affected electoral rules. Janša was elected a member of parliament (MP) in the 2014 polls after his conviction and sentencing in 2013 in the Patria case. Prison management gave permission for him to participate in parliamentary sessions, but in October 2014, the National Assembly adopted a decision stating that the conviction should cost him his parliamentary mandate. In June 2015, the Constitutional Court annulled the National Assembly’s decision, arguing that it had inadmissibly interfered with Janša’s right to fulfill the mandate obtained through open, direct, and free elections, thus violating Article 43 of the constitution. The court found that if the Patria case were to be overturned (as, indeed, it later was), the suspension of his mandate would have caused irreparable damage to the work of the parliament.7
  • In response to the court’s decision, the National Assembly began the procedure to amend the electoral legislation to ensure that persons convicted and sentenced to longer than six months in prison would no longer be able to run for any political position.8 The proposed changes also detailed procedures in the event that a candidate is convicted in the time between the approval of his candidacy and election day. It also establishes legal protections in cases of termination of the mandate of the deputy. Each MP subjected to termination will have the right to file a complaint to the Constitutional Court, and the court will have to make a decision within 30 days.
Civil Society 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Assesses the organizational capacity and financial sustainability of the civic sector; the legal and political environment in which it operates; the functioning of trade unions; interest group participation in the policy process; and the threat posed by antidemocratic extremist groups. 6.256 7.007
  • Slovenia has an active civil sector,1 but most civil society organizations (CSOs) struggle financially. The situation is slowly improving as more publicly financed and foreign-funded projects become available.
  • Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) representing patients played an important role in forcing transparency at the University Medical Center in Ljubljana, the country’s largest hospital. Under pressure from CSOs, an international audit of the children’s cardiac surgical ward revealed a number of irregularities and even four deaths due to medical errors.2
  • A number of NGOs were actively involved in the crisis that reached Slovenian borders in mid-September when thousands of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan, and other countries tried to cross the Schengen border from Croatia into Slovenia. The Slovenian Red Cross, Caritas, and other humanitarian organizations provided thousands of migrants with food, shelter, and medical assistance.3 CSOs and NGOs called on the government to suspend the implementation of European migration rules and asylum legislation, including the Dublin Regulation and readmission agreements. They also pointed out that when the current EU asylum and migration system was established, it did not take into account this kind of mass arrival of migrants. NGOs organized several protests along the border and advanced proposals to the government to register migrants, temporarily accommodate them, and then allow them to freely move forward without any obstruction.4
  • The attempt to close the government’s budget gap has led to repeated cuts in public-sector spending, which have in turn led to conflict with public-sector unions. In December 2014, the government reached a compromise with unions on public-sector savings, agreeing to cut the number of civil servants by one percent in 2015. The agreement also included prolonging a freeze on public-sector wages and salary supplements, except in cases of promotions introduced during the economic crisis.5 In March 2015, negotiations between both sides continued as the government sought to reach a compromise with unions that would allow greater flexibility in public-sector wages and employment procedures for the period 2016–20.6 Thanks to these compromises, there were fewer strikes in 2015 than in previous years. The most publicly resonant were two strikes organized by medical staff and doctors in April and May, with doctors demanding an average salary equal to three times the average Slovenian salary. Both strikes resulted in prolonged negotiations with the Ministry of Health on adjustments to the remuneration and recruitment systems.7
  • In late November, policemen went on strike to demand substantially higher wages, better equipment, and more personnel. The government responded with surprisingly harsh public statements, saying that no strike should take place in the midst of a migration and security crisis, although the interior minister was forced to concede the strike would not disrupt services, as police are required by law to provide services even during a strike. There was no resolution to the dispute on the horizon at year’s end, as neither side was prepared to give in.8
Independent Media 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Examines the current state of press freedom, including libel laws, harassment of journalists, and editorial independence; the operation of a financially viable and independent private press; and the functioning of the public media. 5.005 7.007
  • The most prominent issue concerning the media in 2015 involved accusations against journalists over the publication of classified information. In 2011, just before the parliamentary elections, Delo published a series of articles by journalist Anuška Delić describing alleged connections between the Slovenian neo-Nazi group Blood and Honor and members of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). The Slovenian Intelligence and Security Agency (SOVA) sought to prosecute Delić for publishing classified information, and her trial was held at the beginning of 2015. She defended the articles, saying they were published in the public interest and that the information was obtained legally. In April, the state prosecutor dropped all charges against Delić, citing lack of evidence. In a statement in court after dropping the charges, however, the prosecutor said that she was sure Delić was still “guilty,” which Delić said was unjust and set a dangerous precedent, despite her acquittal.1
  • In July, in response to the Delić case, the parliament overwhelmingly passed a law establishing a public interest exception for the publication of classified information. The law also amended the criminal defamation statute to oblige officials to bring such cases as private citizens, rather than through the state prosecutor.2 This will shift the burden of paying for failed cases to officials and thus raise the bar for bringing them. One of Slovenia’s journalist unions noted that although the legislative reforms were a positive step, they did not fully decriminalize libel, which can still be punishable by jail.3
  • Another journalist who reported on the extreme right, Erik Valenčič of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenia, was questioned on January 28, 2015, by the public prosecutor, but no sanction or judicial procedure followed. Just one day before, SDS leader Janez Janša posted on Twitter accusing Valenčič of being a terrorist.4
  • In September, Valenčič resigned from RTV claiming that management had failed to support him during his case and was using budget cuts as an excuse to eliminate critical voices.5 Slovenia’s journalist unions echoed Valenčič’s complaint about the broadcaster and challenged other editorial decisions relating to the amount of news programming offered.6
  • Economic pressures on the media sector also affected private outlets. In June, the financial management company FMR, a key owner of the Slovenian industrial conglomerate Kolektor, acquired the country’s largest newspaper publisher, Delo, at auction for €7.3 million. The previous Delo owner, brewery Pivovarna Laško, which put its 100-percent stake in Delo up for sale, paid €95 million for the publisher more than ten years ago. FMR has no media-ownership experience and is owned by Stojan Petrič, who is believed to be politically well-connected and is under investigation by the National Bureau of Investigations for alleged economic crimes.7
  • The number of regularly employed journalists in Slovenia decreased by 11 percent from 2008 to 2013, and fell another 16 percent in 2014 alone. At the same time, the number of self-employed journalists increased by 25 percent.8 In September 2015, news about pending layoffs at public broadcaster RTV Slovenia, as well as at the daily newspapers Večer and Delo, have confirmed a mostly economically driven crisis within Slovenian journalism. At the end of December, Delo journalists even held a public protest against layoffs, which they said were unacceptable and opaquely implemented with no clear criteria.9
Local Democratic Governance 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Considers the decentralization of power; the responsibilities, election, and capacity of local governmental bodies; and the transparency and accountability of local authorities. 5.506 7.007
  • In 2015, the Cerar government focused on reducing the bureaucratic burdens of local government without resorting to decreasing the number of municipalities, as previous governments had done to reduce the costs of municipal financing. The government’s measures failed to substantially lower costs, however. The minister of finance announced that a new proposal on property tax would be delayed until 2017, after the Constitutional Court had declared a new property tax unconstitutional in 2014.1 Municipalities continue to receive a 35-percent share of income tax revenue (with some adjustments according to the level of municipal development) and payment for the use of local property for new construction. The latter is still the only substantial revenue source over which municipalities have independent control. Both the Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia (SOS) and the Association of Municipalities of Slovenia (ZOS) opposed government proposals to lower state co-financing of local governments.2
  • In September, both associations of municipalities filed before the Constitutional Court a lawsuit against the state asking it to fulfill its contractual financing obligations for 2015. The amount of state financing to municipalities for 2016 is still under discussion, with the government’s plans and municipalities’ desires still very far apart.3 Municipalities rightfully claim that they are autonomous according to the constitution and European Charter on Local Self Government, adopted in Slovenia in 1996, and the government is therefore required to provide adequate financing.
  • In spring 2015, the Ministry of Public Administration prepared a first draft of the Public Administration Development Strategy and conducted three open-call debates with stakeholders and the public. One of the most important goals of the strategy is to develop closer cooperation between municipalities in the fields of public services (particularly in water supply and public utilities), tourism, municipal administration, communal services, and inspectors.
  • One of the most controversial proposals, originating from mostly left-wing parliamentary political parties, which have been losing the battle for control over municipalities against nonpartisan mayors and lists, is to limit the number of consecutive mandates for mayors to two.4 The proposal thus far lacks support from local communities and academics.
Judicial Framework and Independence 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Assesses constitutional and human rights protections, judicial independence, the status of ethnic minority rights, guarantees of equality before the law, treatment of suspects and prisoners, and compliance with judicial decisions. 5.255 7.007
  • In 2015, the Constitutional Court actively addressed a number of high-profile cases (see “Electoral Process” and “Corruption”). The downward trend of new cases reaching the Constitutional Court that began in 2009 continues, and the decline in the number of cases was significant, although not as large as in previous years. The court received 1,392 cases in 2014, which is 7.8 percent less than in 2013. Unlike in previous years, the reduction was achieved not through a smaller number of complaints received but through a significant reduction in applications to review the constitutionality and legality of regulations (22.3 percent decrease from 2013).1
  • Although there have been improvements in judicial efficiency in recent years, with faster case resolutions and a reduction in the backlog of cases, according to the European Commission’s country report, “Slovenia had the second-highest backlog and highest number of incoming civil, commercial, administrative and other non-criminal cases per inhabitant in the EU.”2
  • The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has ruled in 304 cases against Slovenia since it joined in 1995, and most of the violations concern the right to a fair trial within a reasonable time and the right to an effective legal remedy.3 In the first six months of 2015, the court received 171 applications from Slovenia, 164 of which were declared inadmissible or struck down.4 Public perceptions of judicial independence have declined in recent years, with Slovenia ranking fifth lowest on this measure in the EU.5
  • In September, Slovenia reached its first settlement in cases involving the Yugoslav-era Ljubljanska Banka after the ECtHR’s July 2014 ruling that the country must compensate the bank’s deposit holders, including those in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. In line with the settlement, Slovenia passed a law in June implementing a compensation scheme of €385 million.6
  • Slovenia is among the few EU countries that do not have a central probation service. In August, the government tasked Minister of Justice Goran Klemenčič with setting up a project group that will draw up plans for a central probation service by June 2016.7
  • Two high-profile corruption cases fell apart in 2015 in ways that undermined the credibility of the judiciary. First, the case against former prime minister Janez Janša for alleged bribe-taking in a procurement deal with Finnish defense manufacturer Patria in 2006 completely collapsed. After Janša’s temporary release from prison in December 2014 pending appeal, the Constitutional Court ruled in April to overturn the guilty verdicts against Janša and his two co-defendants, and ordered a retrial at the district court under a new judge.8 The court held that all three previous judicial instances had failed to establish facts that would conclusively show the defendants accepted a kickback or promised action in exchange for one. The court ruled that the circumstantial evidence did not provide adequate grounds for conviction; it also ruled that the presence on an appeals panel of a judge who had spoken out against Janša at a public event violated the defendant’s right to a fair trial.9 This ruling essentially cast doubt on the effectiveness of years of work by prosecutors in the country’s most politically sensitive corruption case.
  • Following the reopening of the Patria case, the District Court of Ljubljana dropped all criminal charges against the three defendants in late August, stating that the statute of limitations had been exceeded.10 In September, Janša filed a complaint regarding the ruling of the District Court and announced that he would also seek damages. In his complaint, he demanded the decision should be set aside and returned to the district court for reconsideration, arguing that he should be acquitted, not just have the case dropped on the basis of statute of limitations.11 In December 2015, the High Court rejected Janša’s appeal.12
  • The second high-profile case concerned former CEO of Istrabenz Holding Company Igor Bavčar, who was sentenced in 2014 to seven years in prison for corporate crimes, money laundering, and abuse of power. In January 2015, the High Court overruled his appeal, challenging a district court ruling from December 2014 and ordering him to report to prison. Because of repeated health problems, however, Bavčar did not go to prison. This drew criticism from the general public and mainstream media.13 In September 2015, the Supreme Court quashed part of the verdict against Bavčar and his co-defendant Kristjan Sušinski due to the misinterpretation of substantive law and ordered a retrial.14 Again, the Supreme Court found errors in a high-profile case that had occupied years of work on the part of the prosecutorial and judicial organs.
Corruption 1.00-7.00 pts0-7 pts
Looks at public perceptions of corruption, the business interests of top policymakers, laws on financial disclosure and conflict of interest, and the efficacy of anticorruption initiatives. 4.254 7.007
  • Perceptions of corruption in Slovenia are lower than in many other countries in Central and Eastern Europe but are relatively high for the EU, according to Transparency International.1 A series of scandals over the last several years has exposed surprising levels of graft in the political sphere, exacerbating public frustration with austerity measures and fueling antigovernment and dissatisfaction with the political establishment. The creation of an independent anticorruption watchdog, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (CPC),2 was intended to help address this issue. The CPC mandate includes oversight of lobbying, whistleblower protection, and integrity of the public sector. After a leadership change and problematic appointment of a chief commissioner and deputies in 2014, the functioning of the CPC stabilized somewhat in 2015.
  • In January, the government adopted a two-year action plan of government measures for combating corruption. The government also adopted a report on anticorruption measures already implemented, including the modernization of several key anticorruption laws and amendments to legislation in a variety of areas on the basis of recommendations by the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO).3
  • In a case separate from the abovementioned, the Supreme Court also ruled in favor of Janez Janša’s appeal regarding a 2013 CPC report, which had described alleged corruption on the part of then prime minister Janša, among others. Although the court took no position on the facts stated in the report, it found that Janša’s constitutional rights had been violated because he was given no opportunity to review the report before its release. Janša threatened to take legal action against former CPC head Goran Klemenčič (now Minister of Justice) and has demanded that he resign.4 The former mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Jankovič, won a similar ruling from the Supreme Court in June 2015.5

Author: Miro Haček

Miro Haček is Professor of Political Science and Head of the Political Science Department at the University of Ljubljana. He is the author of numerous articles and books on Slovenia’s political system, democratic transition, and consolidation of public administration reforms.

Note

The ratings reflect the consensus of Freedom House, its academic advisers, and the author(s) of this report. The opinions expressed in this report are those of the author(s). The ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 representing the highest level of democratic progress and 1 the lowest. The Democracy Score is an average of ratings for the categories tracked in a given year. The Democracy Percentage, introduced in 2020, is a translation of the Democracy Score to the 0-100 scale, where 0 equals least democratic and 100 equals most democratic.

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