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Slovenia's new PM, a fresh face in tough times

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Alenka Bratusek, Slovenia's first female prime minister, has made a meteoric rise from local government to establish herself at the heart of national politics.

The 42-year-old entered parliament only last year after a decade in local politics, and was reluctant to make the change at first.

"It was not easy to enter politics, a profession that isn't very appreciated in Slovenia," the mother-of-two states in an official biography on the website of her centre-left opposition Positive Slovenia party.

"But I believe and hope that we, politicians, will manage to improve that image."

Talks to form the new government dented her initial optimism as she had trouble in filling the key post of finance minister.

"I'm disappointed with those experts that keep talking about what should be done (to recover from the crisis) but were not prepared to join (the government)," Bratusek said shortly after filing her cabinet's list only three hours before the final deadline.

"I had the biggest doubts or problems over whom to choose as finance minister. I wanted a women to take it but I failed to get her," Bratusek added.

Her main objective as a politician remains to "restore hope and trust in our state since, without that, all the government or parliament's measures have no sense," Bratusek said.

A former finance ministry official in charge of the country's budget, Bratusek graduated from Ljubljana University with a degree in textile engineering before doing a masters in management.

"I'm a woman who knows what she wants. I am decisive, very direct, I can't lie or make empty promises," she said a few years ago.

Born in Celje, in the northeast of the country, she joined Positive Slovenia (PS) in 2011 and was elected to parliament later that year.

Before that, she was a local councillor in northern Kranj, where she was elected twice for four-year terms, in 2006 and 2010.

Bratusek's big break came courtesy of Slovenia's anti-corruption authority which pointed the finger in January at both centre-right Prime Minister Janez Jansa and PS leader Zoran Jankovic over financial irregularities.

Ljubljana mayor Jankovic resigned first, making room for Bratusek to take over as PS leader. Jansa was ousted in a no-confidence motion in parliament on Wednesday evening, completing the newcomer's rapid rise to the top.

Bratusek now has a difficult task ahead, trying to strike alliances with parties that just recently abandoned Jansa's sinking coalition ship.

She will also have to step out of the shadow of former party leader Jankovic, who is seen as keen to intervene in decision-making despite his resignation from the party helm.

"Under normal circumstances, she could be a rather decent prime minister," political analyst Vlado Miheljak told AFP.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130320/slovenias-new-pm-fresh-face-tough-times