Parliamentary elections in Slovenia: According to forecasts, liberal opposition in front

“Referendum for Democracy”
Prognosis: Liberal opposition clearly ahead in parliamentary elections in Slovenia

Robert Golob, leader of the liberal opposition party in Slovenia

© Jure Makovec / AFP

The election in Slovenia is overshadowed by the runoff in France. But it also has a European dimension. She decides whether an ally of Hungary’s Viktor Orban stays in power.

In the parliamentary elections in Slovenia, the opposition Freedom Movement (GS) led by the liberal-leaning political newcomer Robert Golob is clearly ahead, according to a forecast. In the forecast published on Sunday evening by the television station Pop TV, which is based on a survey of voters leaving the polling stations, the GS comes to 35.8 percent. The SDS party of right-wing populist Prime Minister Janez Jansa only has 22.5 percent.

A head-to-head race between the head of government’s party and the freedom movement had been expected in the south-eastern European country. Almost 1.7 million Slovenes were called on Sunday to elect a new parliament. The outcome of the vote will decide whether Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who has been in power for two years, will remain in power. By 11:00 a.m., 21 percent of those entitled to vote cast their votes, according to the State Electoral Commission. That is four percentage points more than in the previous election in 2018.

During the election campaign, Jansa had promised stability and created a mood with slogans like “No experiments”. But the head of government is controversial both domestically and in the EU. The opposition accuses Jansa of undermining democratic institutions and restricting press freedom since he took office two years ago.

“Referendum for Democracy”

Since Jansa took office, there have been repeated large demonstrations directed against authoritarian tendencies in Slovenia. In the EU, Jansa’s close relationship with Hungary’s right-wing populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban is viewed extremely critically. Opposition leader Golob had previously described the election as a “referendum on democracy in Slovenia”.

Jansa cast his vote on Sunday morning in his commune of residence, Sentilj near Velenje. “This election will not only decide about the next four, but about the next ten years,” he told journalists. Golob (55) had to vote by post because he had contracted the corona virus. On Sunday he was still in domestic isolation in his hometown of Nova Gorica in western Slovenia. He only had mild symptoms and was looking forward to recovery, Golob emphasized.

Until recently, the qualified electrical engineer was general director of the state electricity trading company Gen-I, which he had managed since 2006. At the end of last year, Jansa arranged for his contract not to be extended. Golob then took over a small Green Party and transformed it into the freedom movement, with which he now challenged Jansa.

Ally of Viktor Orban

The 63-year-old Jansa was Prime Minister from 2004 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2013. Critics accuse him of corruption and authoritarian government. During the short Slovenian war of independence in the summer of 1991, the defense minister tried to bring the media and the judiciary under his control. During the election campaign, he used government resources for his SDS party. He often rudely attacks political opponents and journalists via the short message service Twitter.

Jansa is a close ally of right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Hungarian businessmen who depend on Orban have been financing the SDS party’s television stations, newspapers and Internet portals for years. Under Jansa, EU member Slovenia moved closer to the “illiberal” axis formed by the EU-sceptical governments in Budapest and Warsaw.

Jansa came to his last government office in early 2020 due to the collapse of the centre-left coalition formed in 2018. MPs from two small parties who were part of this coalition defected to Jansa. In this way, his right-wing coalition achieved a wafer-thin majority in the 90-seat parliament.


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