Slovenia crisis deepens as new party quits coalition

Slovenia's political crisis escalated Tuesday as a second partner left Prime Minister Janez Jansa's shaky coalition after he rejected the party's call to resign.

The departure of DESUS leaves Jansa's three-party coalition with just 36 seats in the eurozone member's 90-seat parliament and from February 22 without a foreign or a health minister.

Last month, Jansa's coalition lost its majority after another party, the Civil List (DL), threw in the towel. A third, the centre-right People's Party (SLS), has also threatened to quit.

All three have called on Jansa to resign after Slovenia's corruption watchdog accused him in January of irregularities in his tax declarations.

Jansa, already on trial over an allegedly dodgy defence deal, has rejected the new accusations and has said he intends to stay in office.

DESUS party chief Karl Erjavec said he would hold talks with other parties to find a replacement if Jansa, 54, is ousted in a possible no-confidence vote.

If such a candidate is not found in the near future, "we will be closer to early elections," Erjavec said.

Jansa's lack of support in parliament makes it tough for him to implement austerity cuts and the deep structural reforms needed to pull the two-million-strong country out of recession.

Problems at Slovenia's banks, struggling under a mountain of bad debts, have raised speculation that the former Yugoslav republic, once a model newcomer to the European Union, may need a bailout.