Slovene opposition nominates its candidate for new PM

By Marja Novak

LJUBLJANA, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Slovenia's main opposition party on Friday proposed financial expert Alenka Bratusek as candidate for prime minister to replace conservative leader Janez Jansa, whose majority in parliament is dwindling as parties drop out of his coalition.

Jansa, whose reputation has been damaged by a corruption scandal, lost a second member of his ruling coalition on Friday when pensioners' party Desus formally quit. He is expected to lose the third party on Monday.

The defections will leave him with only 30 out of parliament's 90 seats, unable to govern effectively but still clinging to power.

The centre-left Positive Slovenia (PS) is seeking the support of other opposition parties to vote Bratusek in - and Jansa out - in a "constructive no-confidence vote" after parliament goes back into session on March 4.

The opposition parties are expected to agree, with a few conditions, including that Bratusek promises to bring forward to next year national elections originally scheduled for 2015, which she has pledged to do.

"There is a good chance that Bratusek will be voted in because the parties simply want to get rid of Jansa," Meta Roglic, a political analyst of daily Dnevnik, told Reuters.

So far only Desus has confirmed that it will support Bratusek. The Social Democrats and the centre-right Civic List are withholding their backing until PS leader Zoran Jankovic, also implicated in the corruption scandal, resigns.

Jankovic late on Thursday said he would step down, but only after the vote, and it was unclear whether the promise would satisfy the parties.

The four parties together hold 49 out of 90 seats in parliament. They need 46 to win the vote.

If elected Bratusek, 42, who oversaw the state budget at the finance ministry for six years before entering parliament in December 2011, will become Slovenia's first female premier.

The new government will have to reform the banking system, which is struggling with a rising amount of bad loans, increase labour flexibility in the country, sell some state firms and possibly increase the value added tax to reduce the budget gap.

Export-oriented Slovenia was badly hit by the global crisis and fell into a new recession last year due to lower export demand and a fall in domestic spending caused by budget cuts.

It hopes to reduce the budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP this year from 4.2 percent in 2012.

In October the government managed to issue its first sovereign bond in 19 months, avoiding having to go to its European Union partners for a bailout at least until June.

"This is a step forward towards avoiding a bailout but the new government will soon have to take further steps to overcome it," Roglic said. (Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Sonya Hepinstall)