The new liberal party of energy manager Robert Golob has won the parliamentary elections in Slovenia according to the first partial results. As a result, the right-wing Prime Minister Janez Janša could lose his office after just over two years. Golob’s freedom movement came on Sunday after counting almost half of the votes cast to 33 percent and 40 of the 90 parliamentary seats, according to the State Electoral Commission. Janša’s SDS party got 25 percent of the voters behind it at this count and can count on 31 seats.
Only two other parties, the conservative New Slovenia (NSi, 7 percent, 9 seats) and the Social Democrats (SD, 7 percent, 8 seats) also cleared the four percent hurdle, which is decisive for entering parliament. One seat in parliament is reserved for representatives of the Italian and Hungarian minorities. With this distribution of mandates, Golob could form a majority with the Social Democrats. Janša, on the other hand, would miss one along with the NSi, his traditional coalition partner. The counting status reflects the results in rural areas more closely, which is why there may still be shifts.
Golob spent the election day in domestic isolation in his hometown of Nova Gorica due to a corona infection. In the evening, the 55-year-old addressed his supporters, who were celebrating the election victory in a club in the capital Ljubljana, via video link. “People really trust that we are the only ones capable of fulfilling the hope for change,” Golob said. First there is dancing, but on Monday a new day begins and with it the hard work. Interior Minister Alejs Hojs, who is also Vice-Chairman of the SDS, acknowledged the election defeat with the proviso that the official result confirms the provisional count.
Party and government leader Janša, a 63-year-old veteran of Slovenian politics, is accused of suppressing media freedom and damaging the independent judiciary. He was Prime Minister from 2004 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2013. He used government resources for the SDS election campaign. He repeatedly rudely attacks political opponents and journalists via the short message service Twitter. The police, controlled by his people, often hit peaceful demonstrators with legally questionable, sensitive fines.
Janša, defense minister during the short Slovenian war of independence in the summer of 1991, is a close ally of right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Hungarian businessmen who depend on Orbán have been financing SDS television stations, newspapers and online portals for years. Under Janša, EU member Slovenia moved closer to the “illiberal” axis formed by the EU-sceptical governments in Budapest and Warsaw. Janša became prime minister again in early 2020 following the collapse of the centre-left coalition formed in 2018. MPs from two small parties defected to Janša, enabling him to unite a wafer-thin majority with a right-wing coalition. His challenger Golob studied electrical engineering and entered the electricity trade with his own start-up. Since 2006 and until recently, he was the general director of the state-owned electricity trading company Gen-I. At the end of last year, Janša arranged for his contract not to be extended. Golob then took over a small Green Party and transformed it into the now victorious freedom movement.