Slovenia debates no confidence vote against PM Jansa

Slovenia's parliament started debates Wednesday ahead of a no-confidence vote expected to spell the end of Prime Minister Janez Jansa's one-year-old government.

The motion was filed last week by the main opposition party Positive Slovenia as Jansa's five-way coalition crumbled under his refusal to resign over corruption claims.

The worst political crisis since Slovenia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, with tens of thousands taking to the streets in recent weeks, comes at a time of serious economic troubles for the small eurozone country, which could soon require bailout of its own, much like Greece, Ireland or Spain.

Wednesday's debates began at 10:00 am (0900 GMT) and were expected to go on for at least eleven hours, with the no-confidence vote expected only in the evening.

Slovenia's most prestigious daily Delo, said the vote of no-confidence was aimed at Janez Jansa as an individual, rather than the government as a whole.

"This session would not be taking place if Jansa could and wished to explain to the anti-corruption commission where he got the (undeclared) money... or if at least he had done the right thing after the commission’s report was published," columnist Marko Pecauer said in a front-page editorial.

Opposition and coalition parties called on 54-year-old Jansa to step down after the anti-corruption body found irregularities in his finances in January.

Observers say junior partners would have remained in the coalition if Jansa's Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) had found somebody else to head the government.

But the prime minister's stubborn refusal to resign eventually led to the entire government's downfall as coalition parties abandoned ship in protest, leaving Jansa's centre-right government with just 30 deputies in the 90-seat parliament.

If the no-confidence motion goes through on Wednesday evening, the task to form a new government will go to Positive Slovenia's Alenka Bratusek, who would become Slovenia's first female premier.

A former finance ministry official, she only just took over from Ljubljana mayor Zoran Jankovic, who was forced to resign as party head over corruption claims.

Bratusek's policy plans remain unclear, however, and she has said she will seek a confidence vote after one year, meaning Slovenia could still be headed for early elections.

Two-million-strong Slovenia, once a model EU and eurozone newcomer, is struggling against recession and high unemployment, which have prompted painful and unpopular austerity measures, while its banks are suffocating under a mountain of bad debts.