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Party of Slovenia's only female PM seeking to avoid relegation

Ljubljana, 16 May - A social-liberal party founded by Slovenia's former prime minister four years ago, the Alenka Bratušek Party is tipped as the frontrunner among the marginal players jostling to squeeze into parliament.

Ljubljana
Alenka Bratušek, Slovenia's former prime minister now head of a political party carrying her name.
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA
File photo

Currently polling at anywhere between 0.2% and 3.5%, the party has centred its election manifesto on human rights, public education, accessible public healthcare, the rule of law and a successful economy.

The latter should be attained through innovation, sustainable development and creation of higher value-added jobs, sustainable public finances and transparent management of state assets.

Standing out as the only party not fronted by a man, the party has also been campaigning for equal opportunities, and a fairer distribution of the fruits of economic growth.

In a gesture that will not have passed unnoticed among a section of the electorate, the party has launched a petition for higher pensions.

The party was founded shortly before the 2014 election, which Bratušek precipitated herself by stepping down as prime minister after just over a year in the job.

This was after she lost a vote for the leadership of Positive Slovenia (PS) to the party founder, Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković.

Unlike its parent party, the splinter group that backed Bratušek managed to get into parliament with 4.38% of the vote, winning four seats.

However, the deputy faction fell apart in 2015 as two MPs defected. With only two of them left, Bratušek and Mirjam Bon Klanjšček joined the ranks of independent MPs.

In a bid to raise its profile, the party changed its name twice, first to Alliance of Social-Liberal Democrats in May 2016, and then back to the Alenka Bratušek Party in October 2017.

At the same time, it affirmed its position as a centrist group open to centre-left and centre-right alliances.

However, Bratušek expects that Slovenia's next government will be centre-left and will also include her party, which she says has experience to offer.

Indeed, Slovenia's only female PM to date, Bratušek led the country through its deepest financial crisis, when it narrowly avoided an EU bailout plan.

However, her legacy includes a controversial bank bailout that cost the taxpayer nearly EUR 5bn, wiped out junior creditors, and extracted a commitment for the privatisation of the country's leading banks.

Her government also set out a plan for the privatisation of 15 companies, nine of which have since been sold, one has gone bust and one ceased to exist.

This term Bratušek was the lead sponsor of a proposal that enshrined the right to clean drinking water in the Constitution in November 2016 in a bid to prevent privatisation of fresh water sources.

She also campaigned against restitution of natural assets to the Church in kind, and backed a proposal that would prevent full state funding for private schools.

In a major fiasco of her career Bratušek had herself nominated for the post of Slovenia's EU commissioner by her outgoing government.

She withdrew her bid after she was given the thumbs down from two European Parliament committees, but moral qualms surrounding her self-nomination made her an unwanted partner in the new government.

One member of her party did join the Miro Cerar government, as Metod Dragonja, her economy minister, joined Finance Minister Dušan Mramor as state secretary.

Both Mramor and Dragonja resigned in July 2016, but Dragonja went on to become general manager of 2TDK, the company set up by the outgoing government to manage the construction of the Koper-Divača rail track.

ep/sm
© STA, 2018