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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    TUE, 26 NOV 1996 21:11:31 GMT

    What have Slovenian Elections Brought About


    AIM Ljubljana, 16 November, 1996

    This year's elections in Slovenia which took place on 10 November, are the third multi-party elections in Slovenia and the second in the independent Slovenian state. Never have results of elections put Slovenia in such a stalemate position. When a little less than a week after the elections final results were publicized, it became definitely clear that everything was uncertain. Although majority of votes were given to the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS with 27.02 per cent), three parties which rank after it (Podobnik's Slovenian National Party - SLS with 19.39 per cent, Jansa's Slocial Democratic Party - SDS of Slovenia with 16.13 per cent and Peterle's Slovenian Christian Democrats - SKD with 9.59 per cent of the votes) and which like to call themselves "parties of Slovenian spring", claim that they are the ones which have won, although they formed their coalition only after the elections, and not before. Therefore, there are two possible candidates for mandatary of the new government in circulation at the moment - President of the LDS Dr Janez Drnovsek and President of the SLS Marjan Podobnik.

    Of course, this is a matter of specific interpretations of the mentioned right parties which are on shaky foundations. As the first counter-argument, it should be stressed that the Liberal Democrats have won in 62 out of 88 electoral districts, which means in a large majority of Slovenian municipalities. The second counter-argument for the stance of the participants of the "Slovenian spring" is their so-called coalition itself. Coalitions are formed before elections, because the obvious intention is to tell the voters who to vote for. Although primarily the President of the Slovenian Social Democratic Party, Janez Jansa, had several times tried before the elections to persuade his friends from the Slovenian National Party and the Slovenian Christian Democrats to sign the pre-election coalition agreement, he had never succeeded.

    Nowadys, when these parties have realized that each on its own can accomplish nothing, it occurred to them that a coalition would be a good thing after all. In the past few days they have completely ignored the fact that the Liberal Democracy of Dr Drnovsek has won and that it is customary (although nowhere explicitly stated in writing) for the President of the state to give the mandate for composition of the new government to the president of the winning party. These parties agreed that they would form a joint government with the LDS only if they would take the lead in it and if Drnovsek joined them. They were the ones who chose Marjan Podobnik, young President of the SLS, to be the mandatary, who is an agronomist and in the past few years proved to everybody to be an amateurish and incapable politician. The success of his party can be attributed to his "human" approach to the election campaign, during which he went among the people and sang patriotic Slovenian songs, which he had published on a record, accompanying himself on his guitar.

    And while the musically talented Podobnik is already busy distributing ministerial posts in his government, which he can hardly get a mandate for, news arrived from the USA that among possible candidates for the new secretary general of the OUN was Dr Janez Drnovsek. Therefore, Slovenia can now make the choice between these two candidates. Who it would choose is clearly shown by the public opinion poll made by the daily Delo, according to which 58.2 per cent of the pollees think that Dr Drnovsek is a more appropriate candidate for the prime minister than Marjan Podobnik, just 22.3 per cent think the opposite, more than ten per cent do not know or do not wish to choose between them, only 5.4 per cent think that both are equally good, and 3.2 per cent claim that neither would do.

    The dilemma about the future government would not be so significant if it were not for the high possibility of a blockade of the future parliament. The Slovenian parliament has 90 seats. Out of that number, the LDS has won 25, Podobnik's SLS 19, Jansa's SDS 16, Peterle's SKD 10, Kocijancic's ZLSD 9, the party of pensioners 5, Jelincic's SNS 4, and representatives of the Italian and the Hungarian minority have one seat each. This means that the three "spring" parties have the total of only 45 votes, which is exactly a half, and therefore cannot outvote the other half of the parliament. This would mean complete blockade of operation of the parliament and it would leave the President of the state the only possibility - to dissolve the parliament and schedule new elections. This is what the division between the "right" and the "left" in Slovenia is like at the moment.

    Drnovsek does not wish to make such a division. As it can be heard from well informed circles, along with his LDS, he wishes to call Podobnik and Peterle to take part in his government. In this case he would have 54 votes in the parliament. But Jansa, whom Drnovsek does not wish to have in his government is now pressuring Podobnik and Peterle to remain together with him no matter what happens. So far, he seems to be successful in his effort. In any case, Drnovsek can form a new minority government with parties from the "other half", but that government would not be able to operate either, due to the division of seats 45 : 45. Absence of a single deputy would essentially disturb the process of decision-making.

    If the present stalemate position is not wisely resolved, it is quite possible that from its current stability, Slovenia would move towards instability, threatening of democratic principles, because it is well known that majority of attacks on the democratic system had arrived from among Jansa's and Podobnik's party, and that these two parties are against Slovenia's joining the European Community. This was immediately after the elections observed by foreign journalists who sent a signal to the world that parties oriented against Europe had won a considerable number of votes. This could be decisive for the future development of Slovenia which has so far earned the greatest number of points among all central and eastern European countries concerning all aspects and is therefore becoming one of the major candidates for joining the European family. It would be a shame if its part which expresses Slovenian provincialism and amateurism managed to stop it on its way.

    Janja Klasinc, AIM