Former comedian set to become Slovenia’s next prime minister

Slovenia’s parliament has nominated a former comedian, Marjan Šarec, to be the country’s new prime minister. Mr Šarec was backed by 55 of the country’s 90 MPs. He will lead a minority five-party coalition comprising his own nominally centre-left LMS party, which will be joined in government by the Social Democrats, the Modern Centre Party, Desus and the Alenka Bratusek List. The five parties together have 43 seats.

Mr Šarec now has 15 days to get a cabinet past parliament. With the Left Party also backing Mr Šarec – although choosing to remain outside of the government – Slovenia looks set to have a government after months of political stalemate following an inconclusive parliamentary election in June.

The nomination of Mr Šarec comes as a blow to the populist Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) of former prime minister Janez Janša – the largest in parliament – which failed to find any coalition partners. The SDS has strong links with Fidesz in Hungary, and even adapted a Fidesz slogan during its campaign: Slovenia and the Slovenians first.

Accepting the nomination Mr Šarec told parliament that he was not afraid to take responsibility. “Deeds, not words, will be counted,” he said, adding that reforming the healthcare service would be his priority.

Also close to the top of the new government’s agenda will be the sale of Slovenia’s largest bank, state-owned Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB). Slovenia has committed to sell a 75 per cent stake in NLB in exchange for European Commission approval of state aid to the bank in 2013.

Mr Šarec first came to public attention as an actor and stand-up comedian satirising Slovenian and foreign politicians, including Mr Janša, whom he mercilessly ridiculed for his poor command of English.

After abandoning comedy in 2010, Mr Šarec recast himself as an anti-establishment politician and was elected mayor of his hometown of Kamnik the same year. He ran for president in 2017, making a second round run-off which he narrowly lost to Borut Pahor.

Photo: Marjan Šarec Official Facebook Page.