The son of one of Slovenia’s greatest ever sportsmen faces an Olympic task in turning around the small alpine nation’s struggling economy after winning Sunday’s general election.
Miro Cerar only formed his small party of academics and entrepreneurs a few weeks ago, as corruption scandals tarnished mainstream parties.
The 50-year-old lawyer is hostile to the big privatisation targets the EU says are necessary for a long-term economic fix, such as the country’s main airport and a state telecoms firm.
Now he says Slovenia will follow the EU’s recommendations to beat the crisis, but by looking for the most appropriate means to comply.
Cerar, who has begun talks with potential coalition partners, says his own privatisation programme will be in place this year.
Reaction to the victory of his novice centre-left party has been sceptical.
“The infernal mandate”, ran one headline. Cerar has to deal with an explosion of public debt after billions were poured into Slovenia’s banks to keep them afloat.
“It remains to be seen whether Cerar’s party will be able to do anything different… because the economy is simply always the same. It is a question of what can they do” said one Ljubljana resident.
“It seems like a small step forward, but otherwise I do not expect any changes in the current policies. I think that in all areas the policies will continue as they were until now,” said Uros Pirnat, an engineer from the capital.
Slovenia was once a model eurozone country. But the crisis hit exports badly, and exposed a failure to reform and reckless behaviour by the banks.
The ensuing turmoil has seen three governments in as many years, and the EU step in with a last-ditch reform package.