Alenka Bratušek, Slovenia's First Female PM?
Interim leader of Positive Slovenia (PS) Alenka Bratušek is well on the way to shooting from relative political obscurity only a year ago to becoming Slovenia's first female prime minister in the coming days.
The 42-year-old financial expert became an official candidate for prime minister-designate on Friday, after the PS reached agreement with three other parties to oust the minority government of Janez Janša by putting forward a proposal for an alternative prime minister.
If she musters an absolute majority in the 90-seat National Assembly to be appointed prime minister-designate in a vote that is expected to take place next week, she will be tasked with putting together a new cabinet in a time of ongoing economic turmoil.
Bratušek, a mother of two, was born in the eastern Slovenian city of Celje on 31 March 1970. She graduated from the Ljubljana Faculty of Natural Sciences and Technology in 2004 before obtaining a Master's degree in management at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences.
While holding several jobs in the public administration in the past decade, her first public office has been the position of MP in the current parliament formed following the December 2011 snap poll.
"It was not easy to decide to enter politics, which, unfortunately, is not a very esteemed profession. I hope and believe that the current class of politicians will be able to improve this image," writes Bratušek on the web site of the PS.
As an MP, Bratušek has headed the opposition-controlled Commission for Public Finance Oversight and has been a member of several parliamentary bodies, including the Finance Committee.
Most of her previous work in the public administration has been in the area of finance, as prior to joining the PS and running for parliament she served as head of the Budget Directorate at the Finance Ministry for six years.
Prior to that she was the head of the Budget Sector (2003-2005) and the head of the department for agriculture, finance and government services in the Budget Sector (1999-2003) at the same ministry.
Her first job in the public administration was advisor for small business at the Economy Ministry, a position she held from 1995 to 1999.
Bratušek was named interim head of the PS on 17 January, after leader Zoran Janković suspended his position in the wake of a damaging anti-graft report that found he violated the country's public office integrity law.
She has headed talks on a new government after the coalition headed by PM Janez Janša began to fall apart in mid-January over the same graft report, which also found that Janša failed to properly account for his assets.
While the talks among the break-away coalition parties and the opposition initially focused on forming an technocrat government, a failure to find a suitable and willing name to lead such a government put Bratušek in the spotlight as the head of the biggest party in the talks.
And although her confirmation for prime minister-designate now appears all but guaranteed, she will face a much more difficult task in forming a government because of the diverging views among the potential coalition parties on key issues.
To achieve this she will have to seek consensus with the SocDems, Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Citizens' List (DL) on the best way for dealing with Slovenia's ailing banks and restarting its sputtering economy.
Another hurdle will be agreeing on the length of her government's term, as all potential coalition parties agree that its role would be to guide Slovenia to an early parliamentary election to be held no later than in a year's time.
In a statement on the PS website, Bratušek states that her main driving force will be to restore public trust and trust in Slovenia while striving for a fair and equitable state for all.