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UPDATE 1-Centre-left political novice proposed as Slovenian prime minister

Tue 19th August, 2014 1:20pm
* Miro Cerar nominated by president as new PM 
    * Legal expert won convincingly in July election 
    * Uncertainty over privatisation process, crisis measures 
 
 (Updates with quotes, details, background) 
    By Marja Novak 
    LJUBLJANA, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Slovenian President Borut 
Pahor nominated law professor Miro Cerar as prime minister on 
Tuesday after his centre-left SMC party ran away with a July 
election just weeks after he entered politics. 
    Parliament has seven days to confirm the appointment of the 
50-year-old political novice, who has expressed reluctance to 
sell some of the bigger state assets slated for privatisation 
under a drive to steady Slovenia's finances after the euro zone 
member narrowly avoided an international bailout for its banks 
late last year. 
    "I am aware of the great ... challenge to ensure that we 
exit the crisis, to overhaul the country in a way that enables a 
life of quality and sustainable development," Cerar told 
reporters after his nomination. 
    Parliament is expected to confirm his appointment on Monday, 
after which Cerar, a professor at the Ljubljana Law Faculty and 
a legal advisor to parliament, will have 15 days to present his 
cabinet, which will also be put to lawmakers for approval. 
    Cerar is expected to wrap up coalition talks with the Desus 
pensioners' party, the centre-left Social Democrats (SD) and the 
Alliance of Alenka Bratusek (ZAB) later this week or next. 
    "For now we can say that Desus and the Social Democrats will 
surely be in the coalition, while it remains unclear whether the 
Alliance of Alenka Bratusek will join," said Tanja Staric, a 
political analyst of Radio Slovenia. 
    Bratusek was prime minister when the crisis came to a head 
in December last year, when the government injected 3.3 billion 
euros of its own money into banks drowning in bad loans. 
    Staric said privatisation would pose the biggest challenge 
to the new government, given resistance from the SD and Desus 
despite a pressing need to consolidate public finances. 
    Cerar has said he opposes the privatisation of strategic 
firms such as telecoms operator Telekom Slovenia  TLSG.LJ , 
airport Aerodrom Ljubljana  ARPO.LJ , port Luka Koper  LKPG.LJ  
and the railway, though he has backed the sale of smaller state 
enterprises. 
    Some analysts, however, believe the Telekom and Aerodrom 
sales will go ahead later this year, given the process had 
already been launched by the previous government. 
    "I believe that the firms that have already been set for 
privatisation will be sold while it will be very difficult for 
the government parties to agree on which other companies to 
privatise in the future," Staric said. 
     Slovenia has agreed with the European Commission to reduce 
its budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP in 2015, down from some 
4.2 percent this year. 
    The deficit soared to 14.7 percent in 2013 on the bank 
recapitalisation, prompted by an increase in bad loans after the 
global crisis ravaged Slovenia's export sector and exposed 
widespread cronyism and corruption in an economy of which some 
50 percent is still controlled by the state. 
    Successive governments since Slovenia declared independence 
from socialist Yugoslavia in 1991 have avoided selling state 
assets, including banks. 
 
 (Editing by Matt Robinson and Robin Pomeroy) 
 ((Marja.Novak@thomsonreuters.com; +386-8-205-6369; Reuters 
Messaging: marja.novak.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)) 
 
Keywords: SLOVENIA GOVERNMENT/
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