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What crisis? A look at the Slovenian economic situation

by David Brown

Abstract

As protests die down in Slovenia, it is a moment to take a serious look at the economic situation that is very much at the heart of this recent unrest. As reports come in that some families are unable to provide newshoes for their kids, that students are missing school because the school bus is too expensive, it is clear that there is a deepening social and economic crisis unfolding.
People are genuinely struggling to meet their basic needs on a daily basis. Yet one might be forgiven for looking at the general economic situation in Slovenia and asking: where is the crisis? But this is precisely the question that needs to be asked.
Slovenia is in a moment when the state has passed austerity measures in two separate rounds despite reports from the International MonetaryFund (IMF) now questioning the effectiveness of austerity measures. Furthermore, the constitutional court's controversial decision to restrict any referendum on the bad bank (slaba banka) and the union muted resistance, suggests the location core of the crisis is perhaps not so obvious. In short, there are no alternatives being offered by state institutions and opportunities for the public to create and demand alternatives also appears to be closing.
On basic economic indicators, Slovenia projects a mixed picture, but is far from disaster. Sovereign public debt is 10 percent below the maximum allowed by the Maastricht treaty. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth is low, around 1 percent annually, yet Slovenia has seen only one year of negative growth (2009) since the start of the global crisis and holds a positive current account balance. It is one of only 10 countries in Europe to do so.

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