LJUBLJANA, Slovenia -- Slovenia’s new, right-leaning government was sworn in on Friday, pledging stronger efforts to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.
The 90-member parliament voted 52-31 to approve a coalition government led by Prime Minister Janez Jansa, leader of the anti-immigrant Slovenian Democratic Party and an ally of Hungary’s hardline Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
Jansa, 61, promised a more concerted effort to contain the spread of the disease, criticizing the previous government which declared an epidemic on Thursday.
The outgoing government “flunked the test in recent days," Jansa said. “What was coming was underestimated and reactions were chaotic,” the official STA news agency quoted Jansa as saying.
Slovenia reported 141 cases of infections on Friday, with a surge of 45 new confirmed cases in less than 24 hours in the Alpine country of 2 million people that borders Italy, the focus of Europe’s coronavirus crisis.
Jansa's predecessor, Prime Minister Marjan Sarec, was a rare liberal head of government in Central and Eastern Europe. He announced he was stepping down in January, citing lack of support for his minority government.
Sarec, a former actor and comedian, had called for an early election, but his two former coalition partners instead agreed to form a new government with Jansa.
Jansa served twice as the prime minister in the past. He was convicted of corruption in a verdict that was later overturned by Slovenia’s top court, before turning harshly anti-immigrant ahead of the 2018 election that followed the mass influx of migrants into Europe in 2015-16.
Jansa's SDS won the most votes in the 2018 parliamentary election, but other groups in parliament initially refused to cooperate with the party because of its right-wing policies. Analysts in Slovenia say Jansa somewhat has toned down his rhetoric to position himself as an acceptable political figure.