Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Jansa (L) meets Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda at the latter's official residence in Tokyo April 23, 2008. REUTERS/Dai Kurokawa/Pool (JAPAN)

Ljubljana - Another junior partner will leave Slovenia's minority government this month over a corruption scandal involving Prime Minister Janez Jansa that has engulfed his cabinet.

Jansa's conservative alliance, struggling to avoid being the latest euro zone government to seek an international bailout, lost its majority in parliament last month when the Civic List and its two cabinet ministers quit. Pensioners' party Desus said on Tuesday it would also leave the coalition on February 22.

The opposition parties now have an opportunity to nominate a new prime minister but no candidate has been agreed so far. Analysts already expect an early election later this year unless the opposition agrees on a new premier.

“The exit of Desus would clearly make it that much more difficult for Jansa to remain in office,” Timothy Ash, an analyst at Standard Bank, told Reuters.

Karl Erjavec, who is the head of Desus and foreign minister, said after a party board meeting it was already in talks with the opposition on nominating a new prime minister.

Desus also has the post of health minister and both ministers will resign on February 22.

Erjavec also said he hoped the parliament would by then ratify Croatia's EU accession treaty, allowing its neighbour to join the EU on July 1 as planned.

Ratification has been on hold due to a row over debt related to a Slovenian bank that closed in 1991, when the two countries declared independence from Yugoslavia. Talks on finding a solution could be successfully completed next week.

“I fear that if the treaty is not ratified by then (Feb. 22) it will be very hard to ratify it in time (for Croatia to join the EU on July 1),” said Erjavec, who is meeting his Croatian counterpart, Vesna Pusic, for talks on the matter on Wednesday.

The treaty needs support of at least two thirds of the Slovenian parliamentary members. - Reuters