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Category: Slovenia

Centre-Right Government for Slovenia

Five Slovenian parties have agreed to form a government following drawn-out coalition negotiations.  The December 4th elections produced a surprise victory for Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Jankovic’s Positive Slovenia party.  However, he failed to form a government after his coalition was rejected by parliament on 11th January.

There were no such problems yesterday: the new coalition was supported by 50 of Slovenia’s 90 members, a comfortable majority which should enable the government to push through tough austerity measures.  However, there is considerable ideological variation within the coalition, which brings together four centre right parties (SDS, SLS, Virant List and New Slovenia) with the centre-left pensioners’ party DeSUS.  The Virant List is keen to reign in public spending, while DeSUS have resisted cuts in pensions.

Slovenia’s previous government fell when a referendum in June 2011 rejected proposals to gradually raise the retirement age from 57 (58 for men) to 65.  DeSUS left the coalition early.  Since then, the small nation’s economic problems have worsened, with the EBRD predicting that the economy will contract by 1.1% in the coming year.


Russian, Slovenian, Croatian elections: Final Results

Russia: The ruling party, United Russia, finishes with 238 seats in the 450 seat Duma.  Shares of the vote: United Russia, 49.54%; Communist Party of the Russian Federation, 19.6%;  A Just Russia, 13.22%, Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, 10.66%.  Although United Russia narrowly maintains its majority in the Duma, significant election violations were reported and the party’s real level of support is likely to be much lower.  Russia’s presidential elections in March 2012, when Vladimir Putin looked set for a coronation, may yet turn out to be interesting.

Slovenia: A brand new political party, Positive Slovenia, run by Ljubljana’s millionaire mayor, Zoran Jankovic, won Slovenia’s election with 28.53% of the vote.  The centre- right Slovenian Democratic Party, which was expected to win the election, received 26.26%.  The governing Social Democrats won just 10.5% of the vote, crashing from 30.5% in the 2008%. Another new party created by former government minister, Gregor Virant, came fourth with 8.4%, while several smaller parties crossed the 4% threshold.  The electoral arithmetic means that forming a coalition is likely to be difficult: Positive Slovenia has promised to improve the welfare state, while the Slovenian Democratic Party pledged to balance the books and there is also a history of personal animosity between the party’s leaders.  Early elections cannot be ruled out.

Croatia: The opposition coalition won 83 of the 151 seats in the Hrvatski sabor, while the outgoing government, HDZ, won only 40 seats.  Seats also went to a number of small parties.

Election Update: Dramatic Upset in Slovenia, Victory for Opposition in Croatia, Result as Expected in Russia

Slovenia: Exit polls suggest that today’s Slovenian election will be won by a new centre left party led by the Mayor of Ljubljana, Positive Slovenia.  This is a major upset because the centre-right opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party, had expected to be the biggest party following the election.  The Slovenian economy has faced major austerity measures in recent years, but Positive Slovenia has promised to create a safe and successful welfare state, an election promise that will be hard to fulfil should Positive Slovenia form a government.

Croatia: As expected, the centre-left opposition Kukuriku party has won an overall majority, winning 83 seats in Croatia’s 151-seat parliament.  HDZ, which has ruled Croatia for 16 of its 20 years of independence, won only 40 seats.

Russia: Exit polls suggest that United Russia has won 45% of the vote in the Duma elections.  This has been reported in some sections of the UK media as an upset but, in fact, the result is precisely as predicted by Russia’s Public Opinion Research Centre, VTsIOM, which produced a ‘forecast’ indicating that United Russia would win 45% of the initial vote but 59% after votes were ‘redistributed’ to account for the 7% threshold.  Some of the less democratic vagaries of Russia’s electoral system were discussed in this blog earlier this week.

Populist Parties on the Rise in Early Slovenian Elections

In the context of a deepening economic crisis across the European Union, the fall of Slovenia’s government received little international attention.  Yet rising borrowing costs and falling demand for exports have battered the Slovenian economy, and the centre-left government lost a vote of confidence in September.  On Sunday Slovenia will hold its first early elections since its democratic system was founded in 1991.

The centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) is likely to win the biggest share of the vote.  It has pledged to take urgent action to prevent the country from sliding back into recession, raising the pension age, trimming public services and easing the credit crunch by setting up a ‘bad bank’ to take over state owned banks’ non performing assets.  However, these reforms will be difficult to implement.  The retirement age in Slovenia is currently the lowest in the European Union (57 for women and 58 for men) and the outgoing government’s pension reform plan was rejected in a referendum in June.

A brand new party, Positive Slovenia, is likely to take second place in Sunday’s elections.   It plans to close the 5.8% budget deficit by raising value added tax by 1%.  Another new party, Citizen’s List, will also do well by promising to cut red tape and white-collar crime while reducing public expenditure in an ‘intelligent’ way.  All of the parties involved in Slovenia’s previous government (SD, Zares, LDS and DeSUS) are being punished severely by voters for presiding over the economic crisis since 2008.

These developments are significant because, until now, Slovenia has been one of the post-communist region’s most politically stable democracies.  Although the voters’ tendency to blame governing parties for Slovenia’s economic woes is understandable, the emergence of populist parties claiming to have easy answers is troubling.  As a small, export-dependent economy, Slovenia’s economic situation is likely to worsen as the euro-zone crisis deepens.  Parties claiming to have easy answers may win votes now, but they are likely to have a hard landing in a few months’ time.

For further details of parties’ policies, see: http://www.sloveniatimes.com/looking-for-the-magic-formula

For an analysis of the political situation in Slovenia, see:http://www.robert-schuman.eu/doc/oee/oee-735-en.pdf