Cause and Effect in European Politics and Law

Slovenian interior minister steps down over corruption allegations

Dessislava Dimitrova, August 17, 2011

To step down as an interior minister because of corruption allegations, despite the fact that the prime minister has rejected your resignation, seems quite normal in some countries. Slovenia’s interior minister Katarina Kresal resigned on Wednesday evening (August 10) and at a first sight it seemed like a reasonable act of a responsible politician.

Kresal disagreed with the state anti-corruption commission's allegations on the controversial lease of a building for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), known also as Slovenia’s FBI, from an acquaintance of hers. Upon her resignation, she said she respected the commission’s decision, but disagreed with it. “I step down as an interior minister after the commission had doubted in my own and my team’s work,” is said in a statement on the Slovenian Ministry of the Interior's website.

Her decision would have been quite logical and expected, if her name had not led to rather controversial reactions in Ljubljana.

In a column with a headline “Farewell!”, the local business daily Finance says that the big loser from her resignation is Prime Minister Borut Pahor himself, as by rejecting it he has taken over all allegations against her and has shown that he supports his corrupted ministers.

Kresal has also confirmed the power of the circles of influence in the Slovenian politics. She has never been a real politician, but a symbol of the rich and powerful Slovenians that walk on the verge of law, following the model: “money-power-more money,” the daily commented.

In Ljubljana Kresal’s name is a synonym of a living standard that cannot be achieved with her salary of a minister only and is linked with her partner – Miro Senica, a lawyer whose name is linked with several affairs.

Her resignation has deepened the political crisis in the country after the recent withdrawal of three ministers from the minor coalition partner. Earlier this year the ministers from the Pensioners’ party DESUS also stepped down. DESUS, the liberal party Zares, the ruling social-democrats and Kresal’s liberal democrats formed Slovenia’s coalition government, the very existence of which now is seen to be at end in several months' time. Currently the government has only 33 members in the country’s 90-seat parliament.

It is still not clear whether Kresal, whose political career started when she was nominated to run for the presidential elections in 2007, will keep her post as a leader of the liberal democrats, as the party is expected to hold a confidence vote in end-August or in the beginning of September. According to the party’s leadership, her stepping down as interior minister does not necessarily mean the liberal democrats will leave the ruling coalition.

Prime Minister Borut Pahor said that the main challenge his team was facing was the adoption of the budget for next year, which will be extremely important for the stabilisation of the country's public finances after a key pension reform was rejected in a referendum in June.

In an editorial for local daily Vecer from August 12, Pahor points out three major steps Slovenia needs to take. Firstly, according to him, Slovenians are tired of historical changes and have stopped believing in them the moment it turned out that in fact they do not define their future. The second major point, he says, is that people have lost their confidence in the political class and in the ruling class in particular.

Besides, Slovenia has been underestimating the global events in economical, political and cultural aspect. His main conclusion is that under the current circumstances, the country cannot afford another political crisis, although it is a normal event for a democratic society.

We should not repeat our mistakes from the past and focus on political wrangling as we did in the autumn of 2008, while more important processes are taking place in the world”.

It is good when politicians confess their old mistakes but it would be better if they do not repeat them or recall them only when an election campaign starts. It would be even better if those same politicians try to see what is happening in their own country via the global processes. The best thing would be if all this leads to some tangible results. The hot political autumn in Slovenia should show whether this will happen.