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31.12.2011 14:30
REVIEW, EVENTS, WEEK
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Weekly Review of Events Involving Slovenia, 24-30 Dec

Ljubljana, 31 December (STA) - Review of major events involving Slovenia in the week from 24 to 30 December:

CONSTITUTIONAL COURT ALLOWS REFERENDUM ON FAMILY LAW
        The Constitutional Court announced on 27 December it had rejected the parliament's request to stay a referendum on the controversial family law. The proponents will resume collecting the requisite 40,000 signatures and the referendum is slated to be held in early March.
        Parliament had petitioned the court to stay the referendum demanded by conservative pro-family groups, arguing that rejection of the law would create unconstitutional conditions that needed to be prevented. Only a handful of the provisions of the law are controversial, most notably the right of gay couples to adopt children.
        In a rare 5:4 split vote, the Court did not dwell on whether the results of a rejection of the law would be unconstitutional. Instead, it focused on the fact that the law would not be applied until one year after its publication in the Official Gazette anyway.
        This means, according to the court, that the family law would not have legal effects for one year after its publication in the Official Gazette, hence rejection of the law in the referendum would not have a legal effect in this time either. The one-year window also gives parliament ample time to find a new solution, the court opined.
        The reactions from both sides of the aisle were predictable: the government and gay rights groups expressed regret, but voiced the hope that the people will endorse the legislation; the main opponents of the law, a pro-family group and the Catholic Church, meanwhile interpreted the court's decision as an endorsement of their view that a referendum in which the majority will decide on the rights of a (sexual) minority is not unconstitutional.

COALITION BUILDING STUCK
        Slovenia will not enter 2012 with a new government. President Danilo Tuerk held consultations with deputy groups on 27 December but deferred naming a PM-designate since there is no one candidate with the requisite majority in parliament.
        The election winner, Positive Slovenia president Zoran Jankovic, had been seen as the natural first choice for PM-designate. But he bungled the first major task, the appointment of the parliament speaker, due to a tug-of-war with a potential coalition partner, Social Democrats' (SD) president Borut Pahor.
        This created an opening for the smaller parties, which banded together and, with the help of the Democrats (SDS), succeeded in appointing Gregor Virant, the head of the Virant List, to the top post in the National Assembly.
        Emboldened by the success, the Virant List, Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and People's Party (SLS) joined forces and made the surprising move of airing an initiative for a national unity government.
        The other parties dismissed the proposal but the trio gave them until next week to reach a final decision, in effect stalling the formation of government since neither Jankovic nor SDS president Janez Jansa can form a government without them.
        Virant in particular came under fire from the media, which accused him of derailing the democratic process for the sake of raising his own price. The party did back-track a bit and announced it was open to all options if its proposal for a national unity government fails.

CHRONOLOGY

SATURDAY, 24 December
        LJUBLJANA - PM Borut Pahor was readmitted to hospital and had renewed surgery after his middle ear infection worsened again.
        
SUNDAY, 25 December
        CAIRO, Egypt - Slovenian Ambassador to Egypt Robert Kokalj and his driver were mugged by locals of Cairo's Shubra suburb. The two were eventually rescued by police and some of the residents.

MONDAY, 26 December
        SKOFJA LOKA - Three portraits by impressionist Ivan Grohar (1867-1911), worth some EUR 200,000, were stolen from the Skofja Loka Museum.

TUESDAY, 27 December
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court said it had rejected a request to stay a referendum on the controversial family law.
        LJUBLJANA - The first round of consultations held by President Danilo Tuerk with parties showed he will probably give Zoran Jankovic the mandate to put together a government coalition, even though Jankovic has not yet secured a majority in parliament.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's largest hospital, UKC Ljubljana, confirmed it was looking into reported abuses of patient data by its staff, who are suspected of selling confidential patient data to law firms specialising in damage claims.

WEDNESDAY, 28 December
        LJUBLJANA - The Citizens' List said it planned to treat potential centre-left and centre-right coalitions as equal, but it will also continue to look for support for a national unity government.
        LJUBLJANA - The government earmarked EUR 22.57m to the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute (ZPIZ) so that the pension purse can break even in 2011.
        LJUBLJANA - An estimate by the Surveying and Mapping Authority (GURS) on the basis of the first property census (2006-2009) in Slovenia's history put the total market value of real estate in the country at EUR 140bn.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana District Court sentenced Pavel Koder, a former executive of sports equipment maker Elan, to five years in prison for embezzling almost EUR 1.2m from three companies in 1999-2001.

THURSDAY, 29 December
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided to temporarily halt the implementation of the 2012 budget as of 1 January in the face of changes in economic trends.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate stood at 2% in December, down from 2.7% a month earlier, on the back of across-the-board reduction of goods prices due to winter sales, the Statistics Office said.
        LJUBLJANA - General government debt stood at EUR 15.88bn at the end of the third quarter of 2011, which represented 44.4% of Slovenia's GDP, the Statistics Office said.
        LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of rail operator Slovenske zeleznice confirmed the company's strategy through 2020. The company is planning a turnaround in 2012 which would enable it to operate in the black in 2013.
        LJUBLJANA - The Trade Union of Slovenian Police Officers said it would not start collecting signatures for a referendum on the fiscal austerity law, as announced the week before following the passage of the law in parliament.
        LIENZ, Austria - Slovenia's best skier, Tina Maze placed second in the women's World Cup slalom race to take her second podium finish this season and 30th in her career.

FRIDAY, 30 December
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Borut Pahor called for the immediate formation of a new government in his New Year's message, saying that Slovenia was at a standstill because of the current political situation.
        KOPER - Port operator Luka Koper signed with three commercial banks a deal on a long-term EUR 37m loan which will be used to repay a short-term loan.

sm/gj/sm
31.12.2011 14:30

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