BYD: Focus on European markets is undaunted

first_imgBYD entered the European market with its first order for an electric bus in 2013. Its plant in Hungary is driving its hopes for further market expansion, and will take on responsibility for all UK-bound chassisBYD believes that its electric buses have a prosperous future in Europe, with scope to produce a significant number of chassis for bodying by UK partner Alexander Dennis (ADL) at its Komárom plant in Hungary.Komárom’s current production capacity is 200 complete buses and 300 chassis per year. Both of those figures could be doubled by extension of the current one-shift system, while the manufacturer says that it is working on a programme of constant improvements across its range.In particular, BYD is developing an electric bus platform with a GVW of 14,000kg.While it will not give any more detail on what will come from that, when combined with other workstreams and a keenness to further its presence in the electric coach market, it shows the level of confidence that it has in European markets – the UK included.In the future, Komárom will produce all chassis for the BYD ADL partnership. It has already delivered Enviro200EV underframes, and it will also take on responsibility for the Enviro400EV platform; the first such chassis, for Metroline, were built in China.These are all promises to take seriously. Although BYD currently employs a modest 300 staff at Komárom, its group-wide global workforce is 220,000 and its annual turnover is €17.15bn.Manufacturing pedigreeAlthough BYD is a young company – it was established in 1995 – there is significant bus manufacturing experience in its part of north-west Hungary. The Komárom factory was opened in 2004, but only in 2016 was it transformed into a plant for the manufacture of electric buses and trucks. However, long-departed bus builder Ikarus had a factory in the area and BYD has leveraged that latent experience as it has grown its headcount.Chassis assembly takes place in its own part of the plant, away from complete buses. Viewing the latter, it is easy to see that the underframe is solidly-built and should stand up to a hard life.What integral buses and bare underframes have in common is their axles. A standard driveline is used. Although developed and built in Shenzhen, BYD says that the rear axle comes with a considerable amount of European-sourced componentry, including from Knorr-Bremse and Sachs.Examination of the drive axle shows that it is completely different to one used in diesel buses. Hub motors are fitted, and there is no physical link between the nearside and offside wheels. There is merely a flat plate there, allowing passengers to pass through the ‘throat’ easily.When chassis are completed in Hungary, they can be driven without a body affixed. One of the last stages of assembly is the uploading of the necessary software. After that, they are dispatched for bodying; an additional reason why BYD chose Komárom is its good transport links.What of the future?BYD is clearly committed to the European market. Besides Komárom, it has another assembly plant in Beauvais, which exclusively supplies the French market.Battery technology is something that it is working hard to constantly improve. The current design life is of at least 10 years, based on 4,000 recharging cycles, although to significantly improve energy density it may be necessary to utilise a different chemistry.BYD claims that its batteries have greater energy storage that its competitors’. It can also use heat pump technology to warm the saloon, which adds to overall efficiency.Autonomy is a further area that BYD is exploring. Work is currently being done in this regard at the Shenzhen factory, but a senior figure in Hungary points out that autonomous control is much easier to achieve with an electric driveline than it is with a diesel.Electric coaches soon?BYD has already delivered electric coaches, and it says that it would be able to fulfil orders for more from its Hungarian factory. It will soon install equipment at Komárom to create stretch panelling. Most notably, it believes that electric coaches could become suitable for use on high-mileage work, something that is currently beyond them.That would require buy-in from authorities to facilitate a network of rapid-charge stations, principally on or around motorways, but it could be achieved, says Yongping Chen, MD of BYD Electric Bus and Truck Hungary. It’s still a way off, however. The electric coaches that BYD has already built for Europe have a modest range between charges. When asked whether BYD will make coach chassis available for bodying by other companies, he adds that it is a possibility.BYD has a strong research and development (R&D) establishment within Europe. Besides its Komárom factory, it has its R&D headquarters in the Netherlands and an office at Iver in the UK, which it believes will allow it to respond to local needs quickly.Combined with the manufacturer’s ambitious product development plans, it believes that leaves it in a strong position to capitalise on the continent’s accelerating move towards zero-emission buses.last_img read more

Oxford set to develop coach parking and drop-off strategy

first_imgOxford City Council (OCC) has allocated £20,000 from its 2021/22 draft budget to develop a coach drop-off and parking strategy for the city. The proposal forms part of OCC’s wider investment plans to help Oxford’s visitor economy to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic.OCC describes day-trip coaches dropping off as one of the “negative impacts of tourism in the city.” Its coach parking strategy for Oxford is likely to propose a two-stage approach to tackle coach congestion at key times, the local authority says.As part of its work in collaboration with Oxfordshire County Council and Experience Oxfordshire to develop the strategy, OCC will undertake a detailed study of coach routes and passenger destinations once tourist numbers return to near normal.In the short term, OCC’s aim is to increase the number of drop-off locations in Oxford city centre to ease pressure on the existing drop-off spot at St Giles’, and to encourage operators to use the location closest to their passengers’ destination.In the longer-term, OCC hopes to create what it calls “improved coach layover facilities” away from Oxford city centre. It also hopes to “encourage alternative options for visitors to travel the last mile of their journey into the city centre.”Tourism generated £988m for the Oxford economy in 2019, a 9.7% increase over the £901m it generated in 2018. OCC says.The draft budget also shows that no increases in charges at Redbridge coach and lorry park are proposed for 2021/22.last_img read more

Crumstown Highway bridge Over U.S. 20/31 Bypass in South Bend to close

first_img Pinterest Facebook WhatsApp Crumstown Highway bridge Over U.S. 20/31 Bypass in South Bend to close Twitter Google+ IndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend Market Google+ WhatsApp Facebook Pinterest (Photo supplied/Indiana Department of Transportation) INDOT crews plant to close the Crumstown Highway bridge over the U.S. 20/31 Bypass in South Bend on Monday, July 8, for a bridge deck overlay project.The road will close between Wilson Manor and Grant Road, reopening by mid-August.Eastbound drivers on Crumstown Highway (which turns into Sample Street) will detour north on Pine Road, east on State Road 2 and south on Mayflower Road to Sample Street. Westbound drivers on Sample Street wishing to access will be detoured north on Mayflower, west on SR 2 and south on Pine Road to Crumstown Highway.Drivers in Northwest Indiana can monitor road closures, road conditions, and traffic alerts at any time via the District’s social media channels: or Twitter @INDOTNorthwest. Or visit for INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service. By 95.3 MNC – July 8, 2019 0 464 Twitter Previous articlePorter County woman of accused of practicing midwifery without a licenseNext articleU.S. 33 in Elkhart County scheduled for road repair 95.3 MNCNews/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel is your breaking news and weather station for northern Indiana and southwestern Michigan.last_img read more

Jury selection begins in woman’s trial for bus stop deaths

first_img Pinterest IndianaLocalNews Facebook Twitter Facebook WhatsApp By Jon Zimney – October 16, 2019 0 263 Pinterest Previous articleOne dead, another injured in crash on U.S. 30 TuesdayNext articleCity Officials Warn to Think Before You Flush Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. Jury selection begins in woman’s trial for bus stop deaths Google+ Google+ Twitter WhatsApp (Photo supplied/Indiana State Police) ROCHESTER, Ind. (AP) – Jury selection is complete in the trial of an Indiana woman accused of killing three children by striking them with a pickup truck as they crossed a two-lane state highway to board a school bus.Alyssa Shepherd faces three counts of reckless homicide and other charges in the Oct. 30, 2018, crash. She has pleaded not guilty.Prosecutors and attorneys began selecting jurors Tuesday in the 24-year-old woman’s trial in Fulton County. Testimony is expected to start on Wednesday.Six-year-old twin brothers Xzavier and Mason Ingle, and their 9-year-old sister, Alivia Stahl, were killed and a fourth child was badly injured in the crash in Rochester.Shepherd told authorities that she didn’t realize she was approaching a stopped school bus, despite the activated stop arm and flashing lights.last_img read more

Man charged in beating of off-duty South Bend police officer

first_img Man charged in beating of off-duty South Bend police officer Google+ (Photo supplied/St. Joseph County Jail) An off-duty South Bend Police officer suffered injuries when an acquaintance punched him for allegedly kissing the acquaintance’s wife.The suspect, Kyle Briney, is a superintendent with the city’s street department.The victim was at Briney’s home, Saturday, watching the Notre Dame game when he went with Briney’s wife to the garage to get a drink. After the two did not return quickly, Briney went to check and saw the victim kissing his wife’s neck, according to the police report, as reported by 95.3 MNC’s news partners at ABC 57.Briney punched him several times, causing him to suffer a facial fracture, multiple cuts and a concussion, according to the report.Briney has been charged with one count of battery resulting in serious bodily injury. Pinterest Facebook IndianaLocalNews Previous articleMichigan budget standoff unlikely to end until DecemberNext articleThree Arrested In Elkhart After Drugs Discovered in Home Jon ZimneyJon Zimney is the News and Programming Director for News/Talk 95.3 Michiana’s News Channel and host of the Fries With That podcast. Follow him on Twitter @jzimney. Facebook Twitter WhatsApp By Jon Zimney – November 13, 2019 2 392 WhatsApp Pinterest Google+ Twitterlast_img read more

The triumphant ‘error’ that is Liechtenstein

first_imgRita Kieber-Beck is Liechtenstein’s minister of foreign affairs. Liechtenstein’s credibility has grown to the point where no voices question our right to exist as a sovereign state.One of Liechtenstein’s most impressive statistics is that with roughly 34,000 inhabitants, it provides approximately 29,000 jobs and depends on some 14,000 workers who come to work in Liechtenstein each day and return to their home country in the evening. Liechtenstein is a stable and growing location for business development for the whole region, notably in specialised, research-intensive market niches. Hilti AG is the global market leader in fastening technology. Hovalwerk AG is one of the leading manufacturers in boilers, ventilation systems and waste incineration systems and ThyssenKrupp Presta AG leads the world market in steering columns and camshafts. Far from being dependent on so-called mailbox companies, 40% gross domestic product stems from industrial products and goods made in the principality. Of course, finance plays a role in Liechtenstein’s economy, which has evolved into a model as a competitive and secure financial centre. Indeed it is assisting other countries in building up anti-money-laundering structures and fighting organised crime.The high percentage of foreigners living here makes demands on our society’s capacity for integration. But there is no doubt that, whether cross-border commuters or residents, these foreign workers have contributed a great deal to the prosperity of our country and at the same time broadened our horizons in many respects. In Liechtenstein we believe that what we have achieved over two centuries of sovereignty is worth celebrating and is a more than adequate answer to those who still think in the same dismissive terms as Sir Alexander Cadogan. The fact is that we are still here, two centuries after the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, when almost all the small German states vanished from the map. Liechtenstein was accepted as a sovereign state in Napoleon’s newly-created Confederation of the Rhine. It was in part a political gesture to Prince Johann I von und zu Liechtenstein and, perhaps, also to small entities – Napoleon himself being a Corsican. Closely linked to the Austrian Empire and, after its collapse, to Switzerland, Liechtenstein somehow survived intact through two centuries of turbulent history. Especially since the Second World War the principality has been eager to find its place in Europe and in the world, joining the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (1975), the Council of Europe (1978), the United Nations (1990), the European Free Trade Association (1991), the European Economic Area (1995) and the World Trade Organisation (1995) and signing up to the main international conventions, especially in the field of human rights, the fight against terrorism and its financing.last_img read more

Head of hardship

first_img Fact File Curriculum vitae1945: Born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands1968: Graduates in political science from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland1970: Master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Enters the Dutch diplomatic service.1995: Appointed political adviser to the commander of NATO peacekeepers in Bosnia; further assignments for NATO in the Balkans and Brussels2001: Deputy director-general in the Council of Ministers secretariat, Brussels2004: Personal envoy of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana for Sudan/Darfur2005: Head of EU expert team for Iraq2006: Head of Aceh monitoring mission2007: Appointed civilian operations commander for all EU civilian crisis missions2008: Appointed EU special representative (EUSR) and head of the International Civilian Office (ICO) Pieter Feith may be the international community’s top trouble-shooter in Kosovo, but even trouble-shooters have to live somewhere. Feith’s last prospective landlord in Pristina, Kosovo’s booming capital,  abruptly hiked the rent by several hundred euros per month when he realised just who this 63-year-old Dutchman was. Perhaps that is what Feith means when he notes the “energy” of the town.Feith’s fate – for several weeks after his arrival in Pristina in January he lived in temporary quarters – is shared by many of his colleagues. Landlords in Pristina are cashing in on the anticipated influx of staff at the International Civilian Office (ICO) – the ad-hoc organisation which Feith heads – and the EU’s much larger judicial and police mission, Eulex.Feith’s difficulties in unpacking his suitcase mirror those of the ICO, which is scheduled to take over many of the functions of the widely unloved UN mission in Kosovo (Unmik). The longer Unmik has stayed on as a surrogate government to help maintain the fiction that Kosovo is still part of Serbia, the more unpopular it has become. Cases of sleaze and worse (Romanian UN police killed two demonstrators in Pristina in February 2007 and were whisked out of the country rather than being prosecuted) did little to reconcile Kosovo’s overwhelmingly Albanian population to being governed by foreigners.Feith has now walked straight intothe tight spot in which the EU found itself following Kosovo’s 17 February declaration of independence – the Kosovars’ exasperated reaction to lengthy and unsuccessful negotiations with the Serbian government. The new country is inevitably going to remain a ward of the international community for years to come and, given its location, the ‘international community’ in questionis, of course, the EU. On the recommendation of Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign-policy chief, Feith has now been sent to Pristina to sort out the situation, leaving his wife and three daughters back home.Sorting out this situation bristles with problems. On top of the unhappy heritage of violence, ethnic distrust and unwelcome international supervision, acute questions remain over the status of Kosovo and consequently over the new supervisory mission itself. Even among the EU’s 27 member states, only 18 have so far recognised Europe’s youngest country and there is no immediate prospect of EU unanimity on the question. “Soon we will have the EU insignia all over the place,” Feith says briskly, acknowledging that the respective roles of the various EU agencies active in Kosovo are not always clear to the people who live there. An official says that Feith is “very good at making the transition from a political decision to an operational reality, to implementation”.But what if the political decision itself is muddled? Feith is what policymakers call “double-hatted” – as head of the ICO, he is accountable to an international supervisory board which includes non-EU countries. The ICO itself includes senior staff from third countries, notably the US. But, as EU special representative (EUSR), Feith reports to Solana and has to convey and defend the views of all 27 member states. “It is not possible to be clear in which capacity Pieter speaks,” a diplomat says, while another confirms that the ICO has “difficulties with the other hat since it’s linked to recognition”. The international community’s top man in Pristina cannot very well preface each sentence with a clarification as to whose views exactly he is now communicating. And Feith himself admits that the environment he is working in is “much more controversial than we had hoped”.But a challenging working environment is no deterrent to Feith. Those who know him say he has a clear idea of what he wants to achieve in this job, just as in previous postings. “You are not going to hire Pieter if you want a representational diplomat,” a Brussels insider says. Indeed, his CV reads like a catalogue of hardship postings: Bosnia, Darfur, Aceh, Iraq and perhaps the toughest of them all – Brussels. People hire him if they need someone who can get results under taxing conditions.As the personal envoy of George Robertson, the then NATO secretary-general, Feith was instrumental in defusing a potentially deadly conflict in ethnic-Albanian areas of Serbia, just outside Kosovo, in 2001. For weeks, he and his small team shuttled back and forth in the Preševo valley between armed insurgents and Serbs until they reached an agreement under which the guerrillas put down their weapons in return for an amnesty. He then helped start up negotiations between ethnic-Albanian insurgents and the government in neighbouring Macedonia, at a time when a bloody civil war appeared a real possibility. In 2005, he helped implement a peace plan which put an end to separatist violence in Aceh, Indonesia. In all this, his role was that of a facilitator rather than that of an involved party, which is very much how he sees his tenure in Kosovo. “He does not want the ICO to become a one-stop shop for all of Kosovo’s problems,” a diplomat says.The office is keeping a fairly low profile: its staff drive round in blue VW Golfs rather than the 4x4s typical of the UN. The ICO has sweeping powers to intervene in the country’s domestic politics, to ensure implementation of the plan for supervised independence drawn up by UN envoy Martti Ahtisaari. But Feith has made it clear that he will only use these powers as a last resort. “Everyone knows what’s in Ahtisaari,” a diplomat said. “But Pieter wanted to set the tone as one of co-operation.” Part of that approach is his stated desire to travel widely outside Pristina and its bubble of international civil servants and workers at non-governmental organisations. Former colleagues say he is a good listener who is prepared to take advice. Building up a complex organisation from scratch in a less-than-serene environment will demand maximum use of this character trait. “I am happy to live here,” Feith says, “Kosovo is an interesting place.”last_img read more

Cypriot phoenix

first_imgThe years that Dervis Eroglu spent as a student in Turkey shaped not just the professional career, but also the politics of the man who now leads the Turkish Cypriots. There had already been clashes between Cyprus’s Greek and Turkish inhabitants before Eroglu left Cyprus for Turkey in the late 1950s, but it was during his medical studies in Istanbul that the inter-communal violence escalated. Nationalist fervour about the ‘national cause’ – partition of the island between Greece and Turkey – was much higher in Turkey than it was in Cyprus. The news and images of atrocities against Cyprus’s Turks at the hands of the Greek Cypriots, deliberately depicted in graphic detail by the Turkish press, swiftly provoked him to a hard-line attitude. When he returned to the island in 1963, the federal Republic of Cyprus, established in 1960 after the departure of the British, was at breaking point. What followed were the worst years for most Turkish Cypriots: they no longer had seats in parliament, many were forced to leave their villages and live in enclaves surrounded and frequently harassed by Greek Cypriots, and, sometimes, deprived of even their most basic needs. As a doctor, Eroglu had to tend to some of those needs and, during those years, he forged personal relationships with many of his fellow Famagustans, relationships that helped his later political career. Eroglu was born in a village outside the city and into difficult circumstances. His parents divorced, his father – who fought with the British – died in a German camp (he is buried in Krakow), and he was brought up by his grandmother. Poverty, and education, shaped his early life. Despite his strong response to the ethnic conflict, he began to play an active role in politics only in 1976, after returning from another stint of study in Turkey, this time in Ankara where he specialised in urology. By then, the country had de facto been partitioned. In 1974, a Greek Cypriot junta, backed by Athens, launched a coup with the aim of integrating the island into Greece. The coup proved short-lived, because Turkey invaded more than one-third of the island. Eroglu was among the champions of Turkey’s intervention. When in 1976 the Turkish Cypriots declared their own state, Eroglu stood for its parliament, representing the most powerful Turkish Cypriot party, the National Unity Party (UBP). Helped both by his youth and the strong support of Rauf Denktas, the long-time Turkish Cypriot leader, Eroglu rose quickly, becoming first the party’s chairman in 1983 and then, in 1985, the territory’s prime minister. Even as prime minister, Eroglu remained in the shadow of his mentor, Denktas¸. A hero to Turks and Turkish Cypriots for his role in leading the resistance to the Greek Cypriots, Denktas was the community’s president, its undisputed leader and an able, cunning and resolute negotiator. The two initially acted in concert. Denktas attended to international diplomacy and relations with Turkey, while Eroglu took care of local affairs. Denktas¸ turned into the symbol of Turkish Cypriot intransigence abroad, while Eroglu – softly spoken, but even harder-line than Denktas – became the guardian of the status quo at home. They continued to work closely in defence of the ‘national cause’, but tensions emerged. In 1992, a faction of the UBP broke away and formed the Democratic Party, under Denktas’s son. In elections in 1993, the Democrats ousted the UBP from power; Eroglu won back power in 1998. In 2000, Eroglu challenged Denktas in presidential elections, withdrawing (probably under Turkish influence) just days before the second round. It was when that ‘national cause’ was re-defined by a new Turkish government in the mid-2000s that the political ground under Eroglu (and Denktas¸) began to shake. The Justice and Development (AK) party government, which came to power in 2002, concluded that Turkey’s EU aspirations were doomed as long as the Cyprus problem remained unresolved. Its policy left little room for pro-status quo leaders like Denktas and Eroglu, and the launch of UN-led negotiations based on the Annan Plan, aimed at reunifying the island, strengthened a tide that eventually swept Eroglu out of office in elections in 2003 and that helped to convince the 83-year-old Denktas¸ not to stand for the presidency in 2005. Eroglu’s election defeat was crushing; his political career seemed over. Eroglu gradually came to think the same, resigning as leader of the UBP in 2005 after 22 years and suggesting “it was time for younger blood to take control”. Aged 67, he seemed set for retirement, and the opportunity to enjoy his hobbies – particularly football (he was a goalkeeper in his youth) – and his family (he and his wife of 50 years have four daughters and five grandchildren). But Eroglu returned, first as party leader (2008), then as prime minister (2009), and finally – this April – became president. Eroglu’s rise from the ashes is simply explained: he did not change tack, but, rather, jumped in at the right time. His successive victories sprang from popular disillusionment at his rivals’ failure to improve the economic prospects, to end clientelism and, most importantly, to end 40 years of political and economic isolation. Eroglu’s views on the solution to the north’s status – a two-state solution or, that not being possible, a loose confederation of two sovereign states – were now shared by the overwhelming majority of Turkish Cypriots, who had voted for the UN’s reunification plan in 2004 only to see the Greek Cypriots vote against it and be rewarded with EU membership. But a two-state solution is not the basis of the peace talks, which have pursued a bi-zonal, bi-communal federal solution. Eroglu’s victory therefore caused many to fear for the prospects for talks, which, most recently took Eroglu to the UN’s offices in New York in mid-November to meet his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Demetris Christofias. As the Turkish Cypriot leader, Eroglu has not sought to torpedo the process, but nor has there been much progress – and less progress than was achieved by his predecessor Mehmet Ali Talat. The difference is in part personal: Talat and Christofias are both men of the left, both come from the same area, and they conversed easily. Though Eroglu, a right-wing politician, speaks some English and Greek, conversation flows less naturally. However, their wives, who both lost brothers in the conflict, have reportedly established a rapport and helped introduce some personal points of connection into their husbands’ relationship. So the impasse persists. But Eroglu, a man much shaped by Turkey, knows that he cannot forget that Turkey’s membership to the EU will never be a reality without progress in Cyprus. Fact File Curriculum Vitae1938: Born, Ergazi, Famagusta 1963: Degree in medicine, Istanbul University 1972: Master’s degree in urology, Ankara Numune Hospital 1976: Member of parliament of then- Turkish Federated State of Northern Cyprus from the National Unity Party (UBP) 1976-77: Minister of education, cultural affairs, youth and sports 1977-83: Local head of the UBP in Famagusta 1983-2005: Elected member of the constituent assembly of the self- declared Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus 1983-2005: Leader of the UBP 1985-93: Prime minister 1998-2003: Prime minister 2008: Re-elected leader of the UBP 2009: Elected prime minister 2010: Elected presidentlast_img read more

Merkel begins third term

first_imgAngela Merkel was sworn in for her third term as Germany’s chancellor on Tuesday (17 December). Also sworn in were 15 ministers from Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democratic Union, its Bavarian sister party, the CSU, and the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD), whose leader, Sigmar Gabriel, became vice-chancellor and minister for energy and economy in the new government.In a party ballot that ended on Saturday (14 December), SPD members approved its participation in the new coalition with 75% in favour. Few policies of the previous coalition between the CDU/CSU and the pro-business FDP are expected to change drastically, although the SPD leader will be put in charge of a slower shift away from nuclear energy. The biggest surprise was the promotion of Ursula von der Leyen, labour minister in the previous government, to defence minister. She is the first woman to hold the job.The new grand coalition holds a sweeping majority in the Bundestag, with the opposition far-left Die Linke and the Greens reduced to 64 and 63 seats respectively in the 631-seat chamber. This would allow the governing majority, in principle, to change the parliament’s rules of procedure if it wished to marginalise the opposition even further. Merkel addressed the Bundestag yesterday morning (18 December), outlining the positions she will take during a two-day summit of the EU’s national leaders that starts in Brussels today. She then travelled to Paris for talks with François Hollande, France’s president.Merkel is expected to present her government’s programme to the German parliament in January.last_img read more

Slovenia’s new government wins parliament backing

first_imgToday’s vote was held just as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development raised Slovenia’s growth forecast from zero to 0.7% following unexpectedly strong growth in the first two quarters and healthy exports. Year-on-year growth in the second quarter was 2.9%. Slovenia’s parliament has approved a new coalition government led by Miro Cerar, a law professor whose eponymous party, the SMC, won a landslide victory in a snap election in July.Cerar, whose ideological profile is fuzzy, pledged fiscal discipline as he seeks to close a budget deficit caused by a €3.2 billion bank bail-out last year. The Parliament took the vote late last night (18 September).The new prime minister said that his government would cut public expenditure and improve tax collection. He pledged to make Slovenia more attractive for foreign investors and to sell off state assets. A privatisation programme was halted earlier this year as the country was sliding into political paralysis. Cerar’s government is the fourth since the 2008 financial crisis which threatened to push the small eurozone economy into a bail-out from the European Union.The new coalition, which includes a pensioners’ party and the Social Democrats, won the backing of 54 parliamentarians, with 25 voting against and six abstaining.The parliament had approved Cerar as prime minister in a vote late in August following the resignation of his predecessor, centre-left Alenka Bratušek. Bratušek is Slovenia’s appointee for the European Commission, in line to be the Commission’s vice-president for energy union. Her nomination was among the last acts of the outgoing government, which had been in office for a bit over a year.The snap election was triggered when Bratušek lost control of her party, Positive Slovenia, in the spring. Positive Slovenia, now led again by its founder, Zoran Janković, the mayor of Ljubljana, was wiped out at the polls, while Bratušek’s break-away faction won just a few seats.Janković, a controversial tycoon, is under investigation for corruption.The main opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party, is led by Janez Janša, Bratušek’s predecessor as prime minister, who is currently serving a two-year jail sentence for corruption. The Democrats did not vote for Cerar’s government,last_img read more