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Slovene Opposition Seeks to Take Power, Avoid Elections

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Slovenia’s largest opposition party, whose public support is tumbling, wants lawmakers to back its candidate for premier to avert early elections as it seeks to topple the minority government.

The Positive Slovenia party filed a motion today to ask the 90-member Parliament to simultaneously vote as early as next week on ousting Prime Minister Janez Jansa and choosing Alenka Bratusek to lead a new government. It hopes to cobble together a majority with former coalition partners who quit the Cabinet over corruption allegations against Jansa. Stocks fell the most in more than two months.

Slovenia’s political leaders are scrabbling to avoid an early vote as the largest parties are engulfed in scandal. Jansa and former Positive Slovenia leader Zoran Jankovic were both accused by the anti-corruption agency of hiding private assets as the nation tries to avoid a financial bailout and emerge from recession with no finance minister at the helm.

“The government is in a state of disarray,” Timothy Ash, an emerging markets economist at Standard Bank Plc in London said in a report today. Positive Slovenia is “most eager to avoid early elections.”

The benchmark SBITOP stock index fell 3.12 percent to close at 612.14, the lowest level since Dec. 17 and the biggest drop in the world today, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Slovenia’s dollar-denominated bond maturing in 2022 was unchanged from yesterday at 5.15 percent at 4:19 p.m. in Ljubljana, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

‘Key Decisions’

While its leaders jockey for power, the Adriatic nation that was the first post-communist country to adopt the euro, needs to continue efforts to fix its ailing banking industry. Slovenia faces a 2 percent decline in gross domestic product this year and has to ratify neighboring Croatia’s bid to join the European Union on July 1.

“Really key decisions need to be taken” such as “Croatia’s European Union accession and issues around the crisis in the banking sector,” Ash said.

The Pensioners Party is quitting the governing coalition today, leaving Jansa short of the 46 votes needed to pass legislation. Positive Slovenia would need a majority in parliament to topple Jansa’s government as well as to form the new administration.

The banking industry, struggling under the burden of bad loans, reported a pretax loss of 664 million euros for 2012, according to the country’s central bank.

To contact the reporter on this story: Boris Cerni in Ljubljana at bcerni@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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