Slovenia Ex-Premier Starts 2-Year Term on Corruption Conviction

Former Slovenian Premier Janez Jansa, the country’s highest elected official to be convicted of corruption, begins his prison term today.

Jansa, who will remain leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party, will serve his two-year sentence at the Dob penal facility, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the capital Ljubljana after the Constitutional Court rejected his appeal on June 18 of last year’s guilty verdict for taking a bribe in the procurement of military vehicles from Finland’s Patria Oyj in 2006. Jansa, who said the case was “politically motivated,” is the second ex-premier from former Yugoslav republics after Croatia’s Ivo Sanader to be locked up.

Jansa’s jailing may backfire on ruling parties during early elections set for July 13, said Otilia Dhand, an analyst at Teneo Intelligence in London. Voters will head to polling places after Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek quit in May because she failed to win the leadership contest of her Positive Slovenia party. Opinion polls suggest one of the newly-formed parties would win the vote while Jansa’s party would come in second.

“Many voters perceive Jansa’s prosecution as politically motivated and will turn out to vote in support of their party,” said Dhand in an e-mailed response to questions. “Should the overall turnout be low, SDS might still record a decent result.”

The Party of Miro Cerar, a legal expert who formed the group bearing his name on June 2, would win 17 percent, according to a June 9 survey by Delo Stik polling agency. Jansa’s party would come second with 13 percent, followed by Social Democrats with 6.5 percent.

New Politics

“The rise of new parties is a trend across the region, yet Slovenia stands out in terms of a rocket start for these parties their relative success in general elections and equally swift collapse,” Dhand said.

Positive Slovenia, for instance, became the largest party after early elections in 2011 after it was founded only weeks before the vote, and may now be beaten by Cerar’s party, Dhand said.

Bratusek, the first female leader of the Adriatic nation since it broke from Yugoslavia in 1991, steered Slovenia away from an international bailout last year by recapitalizing the banks with 3.2 billion euros ($4.35 billion).

She oversaw the start of an asset-sale program that is meant to recoup some of the money spent on the bank rescue as the economy started to recover and yields on government bonds plunged to lowest on record.

Bratusek has formed her own party, Alliance for Alenka Bratusek, after losing the Positive Slovenia leadership contest to Zoran Jankovic.

Lawmakers who joined her group have filed a legislative motion to parliament that would prevent people sentenced to a crime from running for public office. Jansa has said he is running on his party list to become a lawmaker.

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