Freedom in the World
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Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
In February 2013, parliament voted to dissolve the government of prime minister and Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) leader Janez Janša, whose coalition had been teetering amid public protests over government corruption and unpopular austerity measures introduced in 2012 to combat a dual economic and banking crisis. In March, parliament approved a new left-leaning government led by Alenka Bratušek, Slovenia's first woman prime minister and head of the Positive Slovenia party. Janša was subsequently convicted of taking bribes in a year that saw several high-profile corruption cases.
Also in March, Slovenia and Croatia reached a deal to end a 20-year dispute over a Slovenian bank, Ljubljanska Banka, which had received savings from Yugoslav citizens in the 1970s. When a Slovenian bank acquired its assets in 1994, thousands of non-Slovene customers lost their deposits, prompting several government-supported lawsuits in Croatia. After years of requests from Slovenia, Croatia suspended the suits in March 2013, and the countries agreed to seek a final ruling on the issue from the Bank for International Settlements.
Throughout 2013, fears persisted that Slovenia would need a bailout from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to shore up an ailing economy struggling with recession and some €8 billion in bad bank loans. In late October, the IMF urged Slovenia to immediately recapitalize its banks. In December, the Finance Ministry announced plans to inject €3 billion into the country’s three largest banks in a move welcomed by the EU.
Political Rights: 38 / 40 [Key]
A. Electoral Process: 12 / 12
An EU member since 2004, Slovenia has a bicameral Parliament. Members of the 90-seat National Assembly, which chooses the prime minister, are elected to four-year terms. Members of the 40-seat National Council, a largely advisory body representing professional groups and local interests, are elected to five-year terms. The president is directly elected for up to two five-year terms.
In early elections held in December 2011, the center-left Positive Slovenia, then led by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, won with 28 seats, upsetting the center-right SDS, which took 26 seats, followed by the Social Democrats (SD) with 10. However, Janković failed to secure a parliamentary majority to form a government or become prime minister. In January 2012, Parliament elected Janša prime minister and, a month later, approved a new SDS-led coalition government; Positive Slovenia went into opposition. Janša’s government lost a no-confidence vote in February, and a new center-left coalition headed by Bratušek, who had been elected Positive Slovenia’s leader in January, took power.
In a presidential runoff in December 2012, SD head and former Prime Minister Borut Pahor defeated incumbent Danilo Türk, a law professor and former diplomat, with 67.4 percent of the vote to Türk’s 32.6 percent.
B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 15 / 16
After 1990, center-left governments administered Slovenia for more than a decade, with Janez Drnovšek’s Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) dominating the political stage. Drnovšek served as prime minister almost continuously from 1992 to 2002, when he was elected president. In the 2004 parliamentary elections, Janša’s SDS finally unseated the LDS-led government, and he became prime minister. The LDS has since lost most of its support and failed to win enough votes in the 2011 election to enter parliament. Meanwhile, Positive Slovenia has gained significant support in recent years.
In the National Assembly, one seat each is reserved for Slovenia’s Hungarian and Italian minorities. Roma are automatically given seats on 20 municipal councils. In the 2010 municipal elections, Ghanian-born doctor Peter Bossman was elected mayor of Piran, making him the first black mayor of an Eastern European city.
C. Functioning of Government: 11 / 12
While less extensive than in some other Central European countries, corruption remains a problem in Slovenia, usually taking the form of conflicts of interest and contracting links between government officials and private businesses. Only 5,000 of Slovenia’s 80,000 public servants are subject to financial disclosure laws, according to the U.S. State Department. In January 2013, Slovenia's anticorruption commission accused Janša and Janković of failing to declare assets. Following his ouster as prime minister in February, Janša in June 2013 was sentenced to almost two years in prison for taking bribes in an arms deal in 2006, during his first term as prime minister. Just weeks later, Igor Bavčar, who served as interior minister in Slovenia's first democratically elected government, was sentenced to seven years in prison for a complex stock trading scheme that cost the Istrabenz conglomerate €24.3 million in 2007, when Bavčar was the firm's chairman. Slovenia was ranked 43 out of 177 countries and territories surveyed in Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index.
Civil Liberties: 53 / 60
D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 14 / 16
Freedoms of speech and the press are constitutionally guaranteed, though defamation remains a criminal offense, journalists can be legally compelled to reveal their sources, and hate speech is outlawed. The government maintains stakes in a number of media outlets. Janša’s government in 2012 dismissed four members of public broadcaster Radio Televizija Slovenija’s supervisory board before the expiration of their terms, prompting criticism from Reporters Without Borders; the four had been appointed by the previous government. Internet access is unrestricted.
The constitution guarantees freedom of religion and contains provisions that prohibit incitement to religious intolerance or discrimination. Approximately 58 percent of Slovenians identify themselves as Roman Catholics. In June 2010, the Constitutional Court annulled certain provisions of the 2007 Religious Freedoms Law, including requirements for legal registration of religious communities and the payment of social security contributions to priests working in prisons and hospitals. Though societal discrimination against the small Muslim community has been problematic in the past, interfaith relations were generally civil during the year. After a 44-year struggle to build a mosque in Ljubljana, construction began in 2013, with Prime Minister Bratušek helping to lay the foundation stone during a groundbreaking ceremony in September. There were no reports of government restrictions on academic freedom during the year.
E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 12 / 12
The government respects freedoms of assembly and association. Numerous nongovernmental organizations operate freely and play a role in policymaking. Workers may establish and join trade unions, strike, and bargain collectively. The Association of Free Trade Unions of Slovenia has some 300,000 members and controls the four trade union seats in the National Council. On January 23, 100,000 public-sector employees held a strike over wage cuts, following months of antiausterity demonstrations.
F. Rule of Law: 14 / 16
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government respects judicial freedom. Introduced in 2005, the Lukenda Project has helped the judiciary steadily reduce case backlogs and was partially extended through 2014. Prison conditions meet international standards, though overcrowding has been reported.
A two-decade border dispute with Croatia—which concerns the delineation of the countries’ maritime border in the Bay of Piran, and parts of their common territorial border—remains a key foreign policy issue in Slovenia. In 2009, former prime minister Pahor and his Croatian counterpart at the time, Jadranka Kosor, agreed that Slovenia would lift its veto of Croatia’s EU accession and allow an international arbitration panel to settle the dispute. Following parliamentary approval in both states and a successful 2010 referendum in Slovenia, the Arbitral Tribunal held its first meeting in April 2012. No decision was reached by year’s end.
The so-called “erasure” of citizens of the former Yugoslavia remains an issue. More than 25,000 non-Slovene citizens, mostly from other constituent republics within the former Yugoslavia who had remained in Slovenia after independence, were removed from official records after they failed to apply for citizenship or permanent residency during a brief window of opportunity in 1992. In 2009, Pahor’s government began enforcing a 2003 Constitutional Court ruling intended to provide retroactive permanent residency status to those who had been “erased.” In March 2010, Parliament adopted legislation to reinstate the legal status of those “erased” in 1992, but implementation has been problematic. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the “erasures” had been grave human rights violations and ordered Slovenia to pay six applicants compensation of €20,000 each. Subsequently, an additional 648 suits were filed with the ECHR, and the Slovenian government gave the “erased” until July 24, 2013, to request compensation. Roma face widespread poverty and societal marginalization.
G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 13 / 16
Of the post-communist countries that joined the EU in 2004, Slovenia enjoyed arguably the fastest and most stable economic transition, even meeting the bloc’s strict euro adoption criteria to join the currency union by 2007. However, the post-2008 global slowdown sent Slovenia into recession and, despite rebounding in 2010, its economy contracted in 2012 and 2013. Unemployment is 12 percent. Much of the economy remains state controlled.
Women hold the same legal rights as men, but they are underrepresented in political life and face discrimination in the workplace. There are 31 women in the National Assembly and 3 in the National Council. Domestic violence remains a concern. Prostitution has been decriminalized in Slovenia. Slovenia is a transit point and destination for women and girls trafficked for the purpose of prostitution.
Although discrimination based on sexual orientation is technically illegal, in practice members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community face discrimination and even occasional attack.
X = Score Received
Y = Best Possible Score
Z = Change from Previous Year