“Karma is a bitch!” says Robert Golob, who assumed energy as Slovenia’s new prime minster on June 1st. Slovenia’s biggest looming downside is lowering the nation’s dependence on Russian gasoline and oil, and never many individuals within the nation know extra about vitality than Mr Golob himself. With the information dominated by Ukraine, Slovenia’s election on April twenty fourth did not make a lot impression overseas. But the political demise of Janez Jansa, the previous prime minister and an enthusiastic fan of Donald Trump and of Hungary’s Viktor Orban, marks an about-turn for the tiny nation of two.1m folks.
In the previous few years Mr Jansa, who has been out and in of presidency since 1990, has railed in opposition to a supposed communist “deep state” and the media, each of which he mentioned had been out to get him. Like Mr Orban, he attacked his enemies as “puppets” of George Soros, a Hungarian-born billionaire and philanthropist. Like Hungary, Slovenia below Mr Jansa had been steadily transferring in an autocratic course.
When he took over a small Green celebration in January Mr Golob was a relative unknown, regardless of dipping out and in of nationwide politics for many years. Nonetheless his celebration received a whopping 34% of the vote in April. Along along with his coalition companions, Mr Golob now instructions a snug 53 of 90 seats in parliament.
In his youth Mr Golob was a whitewater kayaking fan and competed in Yugoslav groups overseas. Now he laments he has no time to chill out whereas he works to ensure that the “future is something to be joyous about and not to be afraid of”. In the meantime, he has to maintain the lights on. His father did the identical on a extra modest scale because the supervisor of a hydropower plant. Mr Golob studied electrical engineering and for 17 years ran a profitable vitality firm. Wrenching Slovenia away from its dependence on Russia for 30% of its oil imports and 90% of its gasoline will likely be laborious, he says, however certainly not unattainable.
Slovenia’s financial system is now roaring again post-covid-19. Its gdp grew by 9.8% within the final quarter yer-on-year, though inflation is operating at 8.1%. Tourists, who underpin round 10% of the financial system, are again in power. Business is cautiously optimistic, although unnerved by the presence of a celebration known as the Left in Mr Golob’s coalition. It desires lavish public spending.
In phrases of international coverage the federal government plans not solely to finish the period of Orban-imitation, but in addition to make new pals. Tanja Fajon, the brand new international minister, was a member of the European parliament for nearly 13 years and a journalist in Brussels for eight years earlier than that. The period of alliances with Poland and Hungary regardless of their questionable dedication to European values is over, she says. The focus is now on France, Italy and Germany.
Where Slovenia could make a distinction in influencing coverage is within the western Balkans. Ms Fajon has lengthy championed bringing the area into the eu, however a problem looms which might result in disagreements with the buddies she hopes to make. Ms Fajon worries that making Ukraine an official candidate to affix the eu will increase false hopes there. At the identical time, she thinks it is going to recommend to international locations within the western Balkans that accession rests on politics, reasonably than reform. As it’s, the eu has misplaced credibility within the area owing to its sluggishness to behave on its guarantees. This week she has been lobbying laborious for a trade-off. Give Ukraine candidate standing, she suggests, but in addition give it to Bosnia. Open long-delayed accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, too, and let Kosovars journey to Europe’s Schengen zone with out visas—one thing they had been promised again in 2018. ■