Bloomberg News

Slovenian Police Union Seeks Referendum on Austerity Move

May 18, 2012

Slovenia’s police union is demanding a referendum on the government’s austerity program, a move that would risk delaying the implementation of about 800 million euros ($1.02 billion) of savings.

Lawmakers on May 11 approved budget measures and other legislation to cut this year’s shortfall to about 3 percent of gross domestic product. Slovenia is seeking to allay investor concern over the sustainability of its debt load, which more than doubled since 2007, when the country adopted the euro.

“The legislation to balance public finances is intruding in the lives of all inhabitants of Slovenia, not only workers in the public sector,” the Ljubljana-based union said in an e-mail today after submitting more than 4,700 signatures. The parliamentary speaker must set a deadline to collect more than 40,000 signatures before approving a referendum.

A popular vote may derail the government’s efforts to trim public spending and enact a so-called fiscal compact inspired by Germany as concern mounts the 17-member euro region may splinter following the inconclusive vote in Greece.

The majority of public-sector unions gave their support to the measures in talks with the government last week.

“The situation is very serious,” Prime Minister Janez Jansa said, according to Delo newspaper. “Self-willed trade unions could give a fatal blow to Slovenia.”

Voters in Slovenia rejected pension changes in a referendum last year that would have extended the retirement age to 65. That decision and the intensifying debt crisis in Europe caused a collapse of the government of then-Prime Minister Borut Pahor in September. After that, Slovenia had its credit ratings cut and saw its borrowing costs on the benchmark bond surge to over 7 percent.

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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