Veber New Speaker of The Parliament
Janko Veber of the Social Democrats (SD) was elected speaker of parliament on Wednesday, in the first step the emerging centre-left coalition took as it seeks to form a new government.
Veber was elected in a 52-34 vote, mirroring the outlines of the new coalition which is expected to elect interim Positive Slovenia (PS) leader Alenka Bratušek as prime minister-designate in the evening.
Members of the probable new coalition - the PS, SD, Citizens' List (DL) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) - argued that it was necessary to elect a new speaker with full powers given the political situation.
They also argued that Veber, who has been a member of parliament since 1996, had the experience required for the top job in the National Assembly.
They also argued he was a uniting figure and tolerant, qualities which the other parties claimed he does not possess.
In his inaugural address, Veber emphasised his commitment to bipartisanship, stressing that he would strive to manage the differences.
"I will endeavour to leverage constructive dialogue in order to craft the best possible solutions, regardless of whether they are proposed by the opposition or the coalition," he said.
He said his priority would be to move along measures that require a large majority in parliament.
"If we are successful as politicians, this will reflect on economic growth and prosperity," he said.
Veber succeeds Gregor Virant, who stepped down as speaker in January after his Citizens' List left the coalition of Janez Janša.
The Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) expectedly voiced reservations to Veber's appointment during the debate.
SDS deputy group leader Jože Tanko said the speaker should be elected by a coalition that has at least the outlines of a programme.
Moreover, NSi deputy group leader Matej Tonin suggested Veber had been a source of conflict in parliament rather than a uniting force.
He said the party would have endorsed a different speaker from the new coalition if he or she had been more uniting.
Veber, 42, assumes the post of parliamentary speaker after spending 16 years in the National Assembly, most recently as the head of the SD deputy group.
A resident of Kočevje, where he served four terms as mayor between 1994 and 2010, Veber has a degree in civil engineering from the Ljubljana Faculty of Architecture and Civil Engineering.
Before he was elected MP, he worked at the local utility Hydrovod Kočevje-Ribnica, including six years as director.
Veber has already received congratulations from President Borut Pahor, who wishes that he will facilitate democratic debate and the adoption of key decisions benefiting the majority of the people.