Slovenia

Consolidated Democracy
79
100
DEMOCRACY-PERCENTAGE Democracy Percentage 78.57 100
DEMOCRACY-SCORE Democracy Score 5.71 7
Last Year's Democracy Percentage & Status
81 100 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 2022

  • National Democratic Governance rating declined from 5.75 to 5.50 due to the government’s ongoing practice of ruling through decrees and omnibus legislation in the absence of a stable legislative majority.
  • Electoral Process rating declined from 6.50 to 6.25 due to irregularities in the administration of the referendum on the government’s amendment to the Water Act.
  • Judicial Framework and Independence rating declined from 6.00 to 5.75 due to the government’s undermining of public confidence in the Constitutional Court, and delayed implementation of court rulings ordering delegated prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office and the resumption of payments to the Slovenian Press Agency.
  • Corruption rating declined from 5.25 to 5.00 due to efforts to limit scrutiny of public spending, as seen in the government’s refusal to name EPPO delegates, along with revelations of corruption in pandemic-related public procurements.

As a result, Slovenia’s Democracy Score declined from 5.86 to 5.71.

header2 Executive Summary

The government of Slovenia openly asserted the interests of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), led by Prime Minister Janez Janša, in 2021. This prompted the government to break with European Union (EU) norms, align itself with the illiberal politics of Hungary, ignore recommendations of expert advisers on managing the COVID-19 pandemic, adopt a combative style of communication with citizens and foreign politicians, clash with protesters and public media, support pro-SDS educational institutions, and slow-walk the nomination of prosecutors to the newly minted European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO).

With the exit of the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS) from the SDS-led ruling coalition in late 2020 and the withdrawal of four members of parliament (MPs) from junior coalition partner Modern Center Party (SMC) in 2021, the ruling coalition’s majority rested on shaky ground. At the same time, the opposition also failed to secure a majority. A stalemate prevailed in the National Assembly between the ruling coalition, with its insecure majority, and the opposition. Each instance of decision-making in the parliament involved tense vote counting on both sides. In practice, DeSUS and other MPs outside the ruling coalition often voted in line with the coalition parties.

The government continued to rule through decrees instead of preparing appropriate acts to be adopted by the parliament. On several occasions, the Constitutional Court required the government to opt for acts rather than decrees, especially on decisions that would limit citizens’ rights. The government’s strategy instead was to undermine the Constitutional Court by blaming it for future victims of COVID-19.

Demonstrations became a regular feature of political life during the year. Besides antigovernment “Friday protests,” demonstrators also rallied in regional centers for the elimination of COVID-19 public measures. The government pushed for restrictive fines against protesters and singled out those who expressed political slogans. A new wave of protests began in September that united a diverse group of antivaccination activists and those denying the existence of COVID-19. This wave saw violent riots, which police responded to with tear gas and water cannons. Some questioned whether the police response was appropriate. Meanwhile, the government continued to champion a group of far-right progovernment protesters.

Dissatisfaction with the current government could be seen not only in the increasing protest activity but also in the relatively high participation in a popular referendum on a government amendment to the Water Act. Despite some irregularities in the administration of the referendum, voters overwhelmingly rejected the amendment.

The government involved itself more deeply in education policy, especially higher education. After authorities extended the accreditation of the private, ideologically sympathetic New University in an unrelated 2020 omnibus bill on COVID-19 measures, the Constitutional Court repealed the move in early 2021. In January, the government delayed enrollment at certain higher education institutions for the next coming year.1 2 In August, authorities announced plans to establish a new public university based in Novo Mesto staffed by people close to the SDS party.3 The government also took issue with the re-appointment of Igor Ž. Žagar as the director of the public Educational Research Institute, although he was supported by the institute’s board of directors and scientific council.4

Relations between the government and public media continued to be strained. Authorities undermined the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) by refusing to pay for its service for most of 2021, defying the parliament, the Supreme Court, and the European Commission (EC). After the agency’s director resigned and his replacement signed a new contract with the Government Communication Office, the STA was finally paid in November for four months of work. A new government appointee also made changes to the work of the national public radio and television (RTV SLO).

In 2021, the government avoided delegating prosecutors to the EPPO, ignoring the outcomes of two successive calls for prosecutors (as well as an administrative court ruling) before finally, albeit temporarily, naming two candidates in November.

In July, Slovenia took over the presidency of the Council of the EU. Reflecting the pro-European position of a majority of Slovenian citizens, a return to core EU principles was expected. However, the country’s foreign policy moved even closer to the politics of the so-called Visegrád Group, or V4 (Poland, Hungary, Czechia, and Slovakia). For example, in September, PM Janša decided to participate in the Budapest Demographic Summit instead of attending the United Nations General Assembly.5 The conference in Budapest was attended by an array of right-wing leaders from Europe and the United States.

Towards the end of the year, Slovenia’s political parties began preparing for the possibility of early elections. In November, however, President Borut Pahor announced that he will call the next regular elections to the National Assembly on the earliest possible date, April 24, 2022.6 Despite the high rate of public dissatisfaction with the government, it is hard to predict which party might win the elections, and harder still to predict the composition of the next ruling coalition.

header3 At a Glance

Despite the illiberal tendencies of the current government, Slovenia remains a robust democracy where the parliament is representative and the public administration is broadly accountable. Elections are generally free, but the organization of a referendum on changes to the Water Act showed some irregularities. Protests against the government were regular and gradually more intense throughout 2021, a sign of civic-sector vibrancy. The status of the public Slovenian Press Agency was jeopardized when the government refused to pay for its service; meanwhile, the private media sector is diverse. Municipalities enjoy substantial autonomy. During the year, the government refused to respect decisions by the Supreme and Administrative courts, neglecting the rule of law. Corruption remains a systemic problem.

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. 5.506 7.007
  • In February 2021, in an irregular session, the 90-seat National Assembly (lower house of the parliament) took up a constructive vote of no confidence in the current government of Prime Minister Janez Janša (Slovenian Democratic Party, SDS) and put forward Karel Erjavec, president of the Democratic Party of Pensioners (DeSUS), SDS’s former coalition partner, as the next PM.1 Despite the support of the Constitutional Arch (KUL) coalition—consisting of opposition parties List of Marjan Šarec (LMŠ), The Left, Social Democrats (SD), and Party of Alenka Bratušek (SAB)—the proposal was supported by only 40 deputies, 6 votes short of a winning majority.
  • Subsequently, Erjavec resigned as DeSUS president and left the party, which then struggled with its ideological identity. While rank-and-file party members repeatedly declared disagreement with the government, DeSUS MPs often voted in line with government proposals during the year.
  • In April, four opposition parties filed an impeachment motion accusing PM Janša of mismanaging the COVID-19 pandemic, attacking the media, and undermining the state prosecution. Janša survived the impeachment with 42 votes in favor and 42 against.2
  • Throughout the year, the opposition unsuccessfully tried to dislodge individual government ministers. In March, opposition parties filed no-confidence motions against the Minister of Labor, Family, Social Affairs, and Equal Opportunities3 for alleged irresponsible work during the pandemic as well as allocating funds in a tender awarded to the Iskreni Institute, linked to the minister himself;4 the Minister of Education, Science, and Sport5 for alleged irresponsible educational work during the pandemic;6 and the Minister of Culture7 for withholding payments for film production, depriving self-employed workers of benefits, and the attempted eviction of civil society organizations (CSOs) housed at a state-owned property in the capital Ljubljana.8 The opposition was unable to gather enough votes, however, and all ministers remained in their positions. In November, the opposition moved to oust the Minister of Education, Science, and Sport (again)9 and the Minister of Justice.10 In December, the opposition brought no-confidence motions against the Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning11 and the Minister of the Interior.12
  • In March, the government faced further loss of votes in the parliament with the exit of three MPs, including National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič from coalition partner Modern Center Party (SMC) due to the SMC president’s disagreements with the government.13 Along with a deputy who quit DeSUS, they established a new parliamentary group of unaffiliated MPs.14 By the end of the year, MP Mateja Udovč had also left the SMC parliamentary group, which was renamed Konkretno (Concrete).15
  • With Zorčič’s departure from the SMC, the ruling coalition sought to replace him as president of the National Assembly with an affiliated party member. The coalition parties (SDS, SMC, and NSi) proposed on two occasions (in March16 and May17 ) to install NSi MP Jožef Horvat in Zorčič’s place but only managed both times to gather 45 votes (one short of a majority). These results also showed that neither the coalition nor the opposition has a guaranteed parliamentary majority.
  • Policymaking throughout the year was rather constrained since the government opted to issue decrees instead of preparing acts that would need to be adopted in the parliament. This form of decision-making engendered much criticism and concern,18 and to some extent undermined effective control over the executive by the legislative branch.
  • Since these government decrees lacked public legitimacy, a number were sent for review to the Constitutional Court, which on several occasions ruled the decrees unconstitutional, mostly those connected to COVID-19 measures (see “Judicial Framework and Independence”).
  • No national elections were planned for 2021. However, a popular referendum was organized on the initiative of environmental nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to amend legal protections for water resources (see “Electoral Process”). Although the referendum was held on July 11, during summer vacations, some 46.5 percent of voters participated. The majority voted against changes to the Water Act,19 which, to some extent, also reflected attitudes towards the current government.
  • The year was still largely marked by the COVID-19 crisis. While the government sometimes coordinated with experts, citizens became very critical and resistant to measures adopted to prevent community spread. There was much dissatisfaction over the government decree that citizens meet a recovered, vaccinated, or tested standard in order to reenter public life,20 including workplaces, which led to violent protests in mid-September (see “Civil Society”).21 In order to successfully deal with the consequences of the pandemic, the government increased budget expenditures by more than a billion euros during the year without a supplementary budget approved by the parliament.22
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. 6.256 7.007
  • In 2018, the Constitutional Court mandated changes to Slovenia’s electoral framework to ensure that votes cast in different electoral districts would count equally, setting a deadline to implement the decision by December 2020. While two attempts to change the electoral system in 2020 did not receive enough support in the parliament, a more moderate proposal for changes to the boundaries of constituencies brought by SDS, SMC, and DeSUS was adopted in February 2021. Modifications to the boundaries of 15 constituencies were adopted such that the ratio between the smallest and largest districts was reduced from 1 to 3.7 to 1 to 2.7. The opposition argued that these changes were made to secure more seats for the SDS.1
  • There were no regular elections during the year. However, a popular referendum was organized on a government-initiated amendment to the Water Act. Introducing changes to the rules governing construction on properties with water resources, the amendment was adopted under an abbreviated procedure in March2 despite warnings from experts and NGOs about possible harms to the environment. The referendum was organized at the initiative of NGOs, which gathered more than 9,000 signatures to initiate the petition;3 in accordance with law, the President of the National Assembly set 35 days within which 40,000 signatures of voters needed to be collected in support of the request to call a referendum.4 Ultimately, 48,479 signatures were collected,5 and the parliament decided to hold a referendum on whether to allow the amendment on July 11.6
  • Since the referendum was organized during summer vacations, the initiators expressed concern that the quorum would not be met.7 NGOs launched a strong campaign to inform voters they could make use of early voting and postal voting. As a result, a record 4.96 percent of eligible voters participated with early voting,8 which heralded a high interest in the environmental issue. On July 11, 104,312 Slovenians (13.3 percent) voted for the amended Waters Act and 682,760 (86.8 percent) voted against the changes, thereby blocking the amendment.9 In total, 46.5 percent of eligible voters participated.
  • Although elections in Slovenia have historically been free and fair, the referendum campaign was characterized by several controversies. The most noticeable was the effective disenfranchisement of retirement home residents, where polling stations were not organized. Furthermore, the state informed retirement home administrators about the deadline for postal voting only a few hours in advance.10 NGOs and taxi drivers sought to address this barrier by offering free transportation between retirement homes and polling stations.11
  • Complications also arose in voting from abroad, where eligible voters did not receive any notification about the referendum. Additionally, the online application for voting outside one’s place of residence was largely unavailable. The National Electoral Commission corrected the mistake on the day of the application deadline.12 Environmental NGOs also expressed dissatisfaction with the unbalanced campaign debate presented on the national public television RTV Slovenia; support and opposition to the amended Water Act were allotted the same overall amount of time, which meant that individual organizations backing the referendum had limited time to present their views.13
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. 5.756 7.007
  • Slovenian civil society organizations (CSOs), while vibrant, active, and well organized, have continued to struggle amid increasing government constraints and interference. Authorities are significantly less open to communication, which negatively affects advocacy attempts. The Ministry of Culture even prepared a 2022 draft budget that, despite increasing overall funding, would actually decrease funding for NGOs working in the field of culture.1 Notwithstanding these obstacles, CSOs have nevertheless been able to connect quickly and develop effective advocacy coalitions and campaigns, including redefining sexual violence and organizing a successful referendum to block an amendment to the Water Act.2
  • After the government’s Office of Religious Communities was disbanded, the parliament transferred the state’s religious freedom portfolio from the Ministry of Culture to (as of 2022) a new government office responsible for religious communities.3
  • “Friday protesters,” gathering since April 2020, continued to regularly demonstrate in front of the National Assembly demanding the resignation of the government and free elections. Their activity was to some extent interrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown during the winter, but organizers maintained at least some form of protest. Police applied restrictive measures against protesters, while the prime minister and interior minister blamed them for the spread of the virus as well as for protest activities organized by other groups. When Jaša Jenull, an informal “Friday” leader, participated in a parliamentary hearing in October, MPs from SDS and NSi left the meeting and obstructed voting. The SDS subsequently demanded that the speaker of the parliament not allow those who promote violence and endanger public health and safety to participate in future sessions, despite the fact that the Friday protests had been nonviolent.4
  • At the end of May, the Ministry of Culture granted the status of NGO “in the public interest” to the Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values, an organization controversial for its far-right positions.5
  • On August 20, the prime minister and interior minister exchanged heated words with a group of protesters near Triglav, the highest peak in Slovenia. The incident led the government to propose an amendment to the Protection of Public Order Act that would set fines of 500–1,000 euros for indecent behavior toward government officials and their relatives. After strong criticism, the ruling coalition suggested changes to the proposal,6 which still received insufficient support.7
  • Restrictive police measures at Friday protests encouraged CSOs to establish in January the Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy, which besides offering legal counsel to protesters also provided independent monitoring of protests.8 In November, the civil initiative Glas ljudstva (Voice of the People) established a coalition of more than 100 NGOs to confront political parties during the 2022 election campaign with concrete demands for improving Slovenia’s social, political, economic, and environmental situation, and also began to participate in the Friday protests.9
  • Besides Friday protests, several other minor protests were organized around public dissatisfaction with the current government as well as its measures for curbing the spread of COVID-19. The most controversial event was a protest of students from a well-recognized high school in Maribor who demanded to return to classrooms in February after most of the school year had been conducted online. The students kept socially distanced and most wore masks during the protest. However, a few days after, some students were fined €400 and four minors were called to court. Facing widespread public outrage, a district judge eventually terminated the proceedings.10
  • On April 15, the Constitutional Court partially suspended the government’s decree temporarily restricting public movement, thereby lifting a ban on rallies. The appeal to the Constitutional Court was prepared by the Legal Network for the Protection of Democracy.11 Based on this decision, the government allowed protests of up to 100 people from April 19 on the condition that epidemiological measures were respected.12 On July 19, the Constitutional Court additionally ruled that government decrees banning and limiting the number of participants in rallies are unconstitutional.13
  • Beginning September 15, a new type of protest was regularly organized on Wednesdays, led informally in part by the nonparliamentary Resni.ca party. While they started as a response to the government-required condition of being recovered from COVID-19, vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, or tested for COVID-19 in order to reenter public life, the protests attracted a heterogeneous group, including those with antivaccination positions as well as those who denied the existence of COVID-19 or rejected wearing masks.14 From the very first Wednesday the demonstrations turned violent, but they were particularly controversial on September 29 when a group of protesters broke onto a highway and stopped traffic. Besides demanding the resignation of the government, they also attacked journalists. Police reacted with water cannons and tear gas.15 On October 5 (a Tuesday), Interior Minister Aleš Hojs even activated Article 9 of the Police Tasks and Powers Act, which allows police to restrict or prohibit movement in certain areas when a serious breach of public order are highly probable, and also limited movement in Ljubljana due to the EU summit held nearby that day. The protesters nevertheless mobilized, and police responded with water cannons and tear gas, detaining some individuals. This response was viewed by some as an exaggerated use of force.16 While the protests continued the following Wednesday, they remained peaceful and ended altogether by mid-November.
  • The government developed a negative attitude towards the protesters, especially the Friday participants. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, in particular, often viewed them as opposition members of left-wing parties. After an official event celebrating Slovenia’s 30 years of independence, boycotted by antigovernment forces who organized an alternative celebration, Hojs referred to them as “swine” on Twitter. At the same time, he referred to the yellow-vest protesters (representing radical-right groups close to the SDS) who tried to obstruct the alternative celebration as “pearls.”17
  • After authorities extended the accreditation of the private New University close to SDS as part of the unrelated omnibus “Act Determining the Intervention Measures to Contain the COVID-19 Epidemic and Mitigate its Consequences for Citizens and the Economy” in 2020,18 the Constitutional Court in April 2021 repealed the article on accreditation.19
  • During the year, Slovenia’s trade union officials warned that the government was deliberately violating rules of social partnership and stipulated that authorities must cooperate with social partners in the preparation of laws, especially those concerning the public’s socioeconomic situation, before adopting and forwarding acts to the National Assembly. They appealed to MPs to reject laws that are not coordinated with social partners beforehand.20
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. 5.255 7.007
  • The government—in particular, the Government Communication Office—refused to fund the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) through most of 2021 for its public service as authorized by the parliament.1 Additionally, in September, the Supreme Court decided the government must pay the STA for its service on a monthly basis even without a signed contract.2 Furthermore, the European Commission (EC) contacted Slovenian authorities directly to ensure the independence and adequate funding of the STA.3 On September 30, STA director Bojan Veselinovič resigned,4 and in October, the agency reported severe financial circumstances that jeopardized the jobs of its nearly 100 employees.5
  • On October 31, Igor Kadunc took over as STA director and immediately met with the head of the Government Communication Office, Uroš Urbanija, who offered a new contract that would arrange for the agency’s funding.6 In November, the office transferred €676,000 to the STA for its public service in January–April 2021.7
  • At the beginning of the year, the controversial far-right Association for the Promotion of Traditional Values established a “National Press Agency” that aimed to replace the STA. This move was presumed to be connected with the SDS,8 though the party denied any involvement. As of year’s end, the agency had not been entered into the Ministry of Culture’s media register.
  • In May, state-owned Telekom Slovenije halted its sale of TSmedia, which publishes the nation’s second-largest portal, Siol.net, without choosing a buyer. Supposedly, Telekom Slovenije was unhappy that the best offer had come from the multinational United Media. The preferred buyer was the pro–Viktor Orbán Hungarian TV2, which had already bought Planet TV from Telekom Slovenije and submitted the second-best offer.9
  • In July, at a foreign press briefing on the occasion of Slovenia’s taking over the presidency of the Council of the EU, Prime Minister Janša presented a video showing the alleged left-wing bias among media and the alleged hostility of the political left to freedom of the press in the country. Journalists expressed their indignation and assessed it as one of the most unusual moments in the history of such events.10
  • On September 3, antivaccination protesters broke into a broadcasting studio at the national public radio and television (RTV Slovenia). Police intervened and 20 protesters were removed from the premises.11 Following the incident, the Ljubljana administrative unit revoked the rally permit for Aware People of Slovenia, the movement responsible for the break-in.12
  • At the Wednesday protest on September 29, demonstrators for the first time directed their protest beyond the government to journalists, who became targets for thrown objects and spitting. Protesters called for “five minutes” of press coverage to voice their demands.13
  • After a May 2020 Supreme Court decision blocking the prime minister’s attempt to dismiss a defamation lawsuit brought by Mojca Šetinc Pašek and Eugenia Carl, both RTV SLO journalists whom the PM had called “prostitutes” on social media, the trial resumed in 2021,14 although no verdict was rendered during the year.15
  • In February, Politico Europe published an article assessing that PM Janša had created an atmosphere of fear by attacking journalists. Janša responded on Twitter accusing the article’s author of lying. Among other groups, the international press association API-IPA took to Twitter to strongly condemn the “unfounded and rude attack” on the journalist and Politico.16
  • RTV Slovenia also underwent changes in 2021. In August, General Manager Andrej Grah Whatmough, who took office at the beginning of the year, unilaterally dismissed the public television director Natalija Gorščak.17 In October, three of the five editors of the public television’s information program resigned. A few days earlier, the information program’s editor-in-chief also resigned over disagreements with proposed changes to the program’s production plan that critics argued would reduce government scrutiny.18
  • Independent, critical media have also become targets of punitive lawsuits. The media portal Necenzurirano.si has received several dozen lawsuits filed by businessman Rok Snežič, a personal friend of PM Janša.19
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. 6.507 7.007
  • During the winter months, government measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 continued to prohibit citizens from leaving their municipalities. This ban was lifted only in late April.1 However, many exceptions were allowed for crossing municipalities, such as for work but also to go to shops, pharmacies, or for services unavailable in the immediate municipality.
  • With increasing access to vaccines, large differences emerged between municipalities in the rates of vaccination and practices introduced to promote and effectively vaccinate.2
  • Long-discussed administrative-territorial reforms remained low on the government agenda, but in November, the National Assembly adopted an amendment to the Act on the Establishment of Municipalities to grant Krško the status of city municipality.3 In the same month, inhabitants of the town Golnik expressed interest in seceding from the municipality of Kranj to establish their own municipality, but the National Assembly rejected a proposal to call a referendum on establishing a Golnik municipality.4
  • The next regular local elections are planned for 2022. Many municipalities have already started to invest more in infrastructure5 since the proposed 2022 budget envisages an increase in expenditures for municipalities.6
  • Local-level corruption remains an issue. In 2021, Slovenia’s Commission for the Prevention of Corruption found several cases of conflicts of interest among mayors7 as well as integrity violations.8 Furthermore, a January 2022 investigation by TV Slovenia found that Franc Kangler, currently state secretary of the Interior Ministry, was not convicted in any of 26 separate proceedings related to alleged misdeeds while mayor of Maribor.9
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. 5.756 7.007
  • In February, the NGO Inštitut 8. marec (Institute 8 March) started a campaign to collect voter support for a proposal to redefine sexual violence in a way that would enforce a model of affirmative consent, or “only yes means yes.” The proposal was then adopted by the opposition and submitted to the parliament in March. The government proposed its own amendments to the criminal code, but the NGO’s proposal received nearly uniform political support and in June was incorporated into the criminal code.1
  • The government and progovernment commentators have harshly criticized the work of the Constitutional Court. However, in March, when a judge adjudicated a case that he had previously ruled on, law professor Jurij Toplak commented, “The organization of work on the Constitutional Court has become so poor that the rule of law and the protection of the rights of all of us suffer. The backlog is getting longer and the judges obviously don’t know what they are judging anymore.”2
  • From March 2020 to September 2021, the government adopted more than 2,700 decrees.3 Some were filed for constitutional review. In April and July, the Constitutional Court struck down government decrees banning or restricting assemblies (see “Civil Society”).4 In June, the court ruled that government decrees restricting movement and assembly of the population were unconstitutional.5 In September, the court withheld a decree that would oblige state administration employees to meet the recovered or vaccinated condition in order to go to work.6
  • Throughout the year, the government obstructed the appointment of two delegated prosecutors to the newly established European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO). At first, authorities avoided meeting with the candidates proposed by the Council of Public Prosecutors, then annulled two consecutive calls after both were answered by only two candidates, Tanja Frank Eler and Matej Oštir. After the government annulled the first call, the sitting justice minister resigned, and the two candidates initiated an administrative dispute. In October, an administrative court annulled the government’s decision annulling the first call, but the government stated that the judgment could not be enforced. Following the decision, the government decided to publish a third call.7 The saga appeared to come to an end in November when the government decided to nominate Frank Eler and Oštir, yet authorities stated these nominations were temporary.8 However, the EPPO proceeded to appoint Frank Eler and Oštir as European Delegated Prosecutors for full five-year terms. While the new justice minister initially congratulated both candidates, he filed an amendment to the Public Prosecutor’s Office Act on the same day that would allow the ministry to nominate EPPO prosecutors even if they had not applied, and the final selections forwarded to the EPPO would be made by the government and no longer by the Council of Public Prosecutors.9
  • In July, Prime Minister Janša, in an official meeting in Brdo at the start of the Slovenian presidency to the Council of the EU, showed photos from a picnic attended by Slovenian MEPs from the Social Democrats party group as well as judges, claiming that the judiciary in Slovenia is still in the hands of the SD. Attending the event, EC Vice-President Frans Timmermans expressed dissatisfaction with these remarks and even refused to take a group photo.10
  • In a fourth attempt, President Borut Pahor succeeded in proposing a candidate to replace Constitutional Court judge Dunja Jadek Pensa, whose term expired on July 14, 2020. In November 2021, the candidate Rok Svetlič gained the required 46 votes in the parliament. However, Svetlič was criticized by the opposition for not having the necessary qualifications for a constitutional judge and for holding inappropriate attitudes towards the treatment of refugees. Before Svetlič, Pahor proposed Andraž Teršek and Anže Erbežnik as candidates on the basis of a public call, as well as his own choice of Janez Kranjec, but none of these received sufficient support.11
  • In failing to respect the Supreme Court decision on the status of the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) and the administrative court decision on EPPO delegated prosecutors, the government directly violated the rule of law and the constitutionally guaranteed right to effective judicial protection.
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. 5.005 7.007
  • In September, the media published private photos of Prime Minister Janša and his family on the yacht of Andrej Marčič, one of the chief suppliers of the Slovenian healthcare system. The meeting was unreported as a lobbying contact. The photos were taken in 2016 when Janša, his family, Marčič, and lobbyist Božo Dimnik were on holiday together on the Adriatic Sea. Additionally, journalists found other photo evidence of regular contacts between Janša, Marčič, and Dimnik. Close contacts between the lobbyist and the prime minister triggered suspicions of corruption.1 (However, in 2022, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption did not confirm violations of the Integrity and Prevention of Corruption Act.)2
  • Corruption continued in the area of healthcare in 2021. The government offered supplemental salary to medical workers who served during the COVID–19 crises. It was later revealed that some doctors received thousands of euros in allowances, including not only those on the front lines but some who did not work with Covid patients at all. Some of the busiest and highest paid in Covid departments also found time to work in private companies.3
  • The 2021 Global Corruption Barometer, published by Transparency International in May, revealed that more than half of Slovenians believed that corruption increased in the country in 2020, the highest share after Cyprus in the EU. Among respondents, 83.9 percent evaluated that corruption is widespread in the government and a serious problem. Compared to 2016, when only 17 percent of citizens believed that the prime minister and his cabinet are involved in corruption, 38.6 percent held this view in 2020. At the same time, the share of citizens who believe they can contribute to the fight against corruption increased from 28 percent in 2016 to 66.1 percent in 2020.4
  • The amendment to the Integrity and Prevention of Corruption Act adopted in November 2020 came into force in July 2021, with bans and restrictions on accepting gifts for all officials and other civil servants. These rules also apply to family members of officials.5 In September, new rules of procedure were adopted for the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption.6
  • In September and October, the commission, as part of investigations related to the April 2020 procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent the spread of COVID-19, found an integrity violation by Aleš Cantarutti, former secretary of state of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. Cantarutti unjustifiably privileged certain businesses when ordering PPE.7 In November 2020, the commission launched 21 investigations against eight officials for purchasing PPE.8 However, 12 investigations were suspended in November 2021.9
  • A report prepared by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) revealed in October that Slovenia had not satisfactorily fulfilled or addressed any of the 15 recommendations from the report of the Fifth Evaluation Round.10
  • In October, the privately owned television POP TV published a 2007 conversation between Andrej Vizjak, current Minister of Environment and Spatial planning, and former economy minister and entrepreneur Bojan Petan. In the conversation, Vizjak encouraged Petan not to pay taxes. While Vizjak at first denied the authenticity of the recording, it was later confirmed as real.11

Author: Meta Novak is an assistant professor and researcher at University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Social Sciences. Her main areas of research are interest groups and civil society.

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