Slovenian lawmakers elect conservative parliament speaker


LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) – Slovenian lawmakers on Friday overwhelmingly elected a conservative as the country’s new parliamentary speaker as talks continued on forming a coalition government after this month’s inconclusive election.

Matej Tonin from the New Slovenia party won support Friday from 80 of the 90 lawmakers in the assembly, with only nine votes against. Tonin said his election could be only temporary, until more is known on who will form the new government.

The right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party of former Prime Minister Janez Jansa gained the most votes in June 3 ballot, winning 25 parliamentary seats but not enough to rule on its own.

Most other groups have excluded a coalition with Jansa, who has close ties with Hungary’s anti-immigrant Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Instead, they have launched talks to form a centrist government in the small European Union nation.

Tonin, whose candidacy was initiated by the centrist bloc, said his appointment sends out a positive message to the Slovenian public that politicians could overcome their differences to avoid political instability.

“We have an obligation to talk and cooperate for the benefit of Slovenia,” he said.

Leading the moderate parties is the second-placed List of Marjan Sarec with 13 seats. If supported by Tonin’s center-right party, Sarec’s alliance could garner a parliamentary majority of 50 seats.

The election success of Jansa’s right-wing SDS party is seen as a reflection of a wider populist surge in central and eastern Europe.