Slovenia: Prime Minister Miro Cerar resigns over court ruling on referendum | News | DW | 14.03.2018
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Slovenia: Prime Minister Miro Cerar resigns over court ruling on referendum

Just hours after Slovenia's top court annulled a referendum on a government railway project, Prime Minister Miro Cerar said he was stepping down. The court had ruled the referendum campaign was one-sided.

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar announced his resignation on Wednesday shortly after the country's Supreme Court annulled the results of a referendum held last year.

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Over 53 percent of voters in September voted in favor of a government railway project that was set to cost €1 billion ($1.24 billion), making it the center-left government's biggest investment program.

"I have made a decision any trustworthy politician should make in such a situation," Cerar said during a press conference late Wednesday. "You [citizens] will have a chance in the elections to judge between right and wrong and who deserves your support."

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He said he submitted his resignation to parliament, but that he would stay in his position until a new government could be formed.

Slovenia is due to hold a parliamentary election in June, but the date will now likely be bumped up by a few weeks.

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Unfair advantage in referendum

The government planned to build a 27-kilometer (16.8-mile) railway line between the Italian border city of Divaca and the state-owned Adriatic seaport Luka Koper.

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But some were concerned the billion-euro price tag on the project was too high and that the government had given itself a leg-up in the campaign.

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The civil society group Taxpayers Don't Give Up brought the case to Slovenia's Supreme Court, arguing the government had an unfair advantage in the referendum because it used €95,000 of public funds to support its campaign.

The court agreed with them in a ruling earlier on Wednesday.

"The government's campaign was inadmissibly one-sided," the court ruled while ordering the State Election Commission to set a new date for the referendum.

Cerar's government also faced a recent wave of strikes by public sector workers amid Slovenia's economic recovery. Many schools in the country were closed on Wednesday as teachers went on strike for the second time in a month.

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rs/sms    (AP, Reuters)

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