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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

    SUN, 30 NOV 1997 22:49:14 GMT

    Outcome of Presidential Elections in Slovenia

    MILAN KUCAN PRESIDENT OF SLOVENIA AGAIN

    AIM Ljubljana, 25 November, 1997

    That which was expected by all connoisseurs of political circumstances in Slovenia has in the end happened. Milan Kucan, president of the state, won the Sunday presidential elections, decisively and with no serious competition. Nobody that counts doubted that he would win, because for years Kucan has ranked first on all "top lists" of Slovenian politicians, but many believed that due to a large number of presidential candidates (eight), there would be two rounds of the elections. This did not happen and according to the preliminary official results (final results will be made public on 2 December) Milan Kucan has won with 55.55 per cent of the votes ahead of Janez Podobnik who ranked second and who is the chairman of Slovenian parliament and member of the Slovenian National Party, and who collected 18.39 per cent of the votes.

    Among the eight candidates, these two were the only serious ones, which is best illustrated by the results of the remaining six. The candidate who ranked third, Joze Bernik (candidate of Jansa's SDS and Peterle's SKD, former home guardsman and the man with both Slovenian and American citizenship) gathered only 9.48 per cent of the votes, independent candidate Marjan Cerar, manager of Belinka factory who called himself an "intellectual clown", won 7.05 per cent, and he is followed by an even sharper decline. In this year's presidential performance, the role of the populist clown belonged to Marjan Poljsak who won 3.07 per cent of the votes, and two intellectuals who cannot be called clowns even metaphorically, Tone Persak (writer and president of the Democratic Party) won 3.07 per cent, and Bogomir Kovac (professor of Ljubljana Economic Faculty and candidate of the ruling LDS) won just 2.70 per cent of the votes. The last on the list is Franc Miklavcic (the oldest candidate, retired judge and Christian Democrat) who managed to win only 0.55 per cent of the votes. The fact that 68.5 per cent of the electorate had voted in the elections whould be added to this.

    What gave Kucan such an advantage and such popularity among the people? It would be completely wrong to explain his success with personality cult of some kind. Nothing of the kind has ever existed in Slovenia, nor does it exist now. In fear of anything of the kind, the Slovenes refused to introduce the presidential system in their constitution. An average Slovene likes calm, stable politicians who are close to the people. All these attributes adorn the old new president Kucan. He is not a man who would either promise or threaten, he just analyzes and states things. He is also realistic and highly critical of the institutions of the system which do not operate as they should. He rarely loses his temper because of anything. He always avoids direct conflicts and prefers political dialogue. Although his opponents keep stressing his communist background, it should be underlined that his political generation initiated democratic changes in the former system, at first within the former League of Commuunists, and later in the republican administration. As they had no success in the federation, along with the existing political opposition at the time, they decided that independence was best for Slovenia. That is why they peacefully relinquished power and (the first in former Yugoslavia) introduced a multiparty system. These are, in brief, characteristics and some elements of Kucan's political work which have brought him credibility and respectability among majority of the Slovenes.

    All these virtues have not concealed some Kucan's mistakes in this year's election campaign. In this campaign Milan Kucan was not the same likable, short, white-haired elderly man who destroyed his rivals with a smile, good-humour and wit. He was mostly serious, at times even insulted and aggressive. Had he had serious counter-candidates, it could have been detrimental for him. But it was not. It is interesting that political parties did not take preparations for these elections seriously, due to the very prejudice that nobody could beat Kucan. To some of them, Milan Kucan even became a fixation. Janez Jansa certanly blazes the trail, and lately his political associate Lojze Peterle, president of SKD, joined him. These two have even devised that during the campaign, the parliament should in an emergency procedure consider their draft law on lustration the key idea of which is to forbid the former communist party cadre to take the most responsible posts in the present system. The main objective of the attack was Kucan, of course, but this demand put the president in the position of a victim which was more useful than harmful for him. That is why it can freely be said that the draft law on lustration brought more to Kucan than it took away from him.

    What does his re-election mean for Slovenia? In any case, a peaceful course of development with a steady policy of its first man, in Slovenia where most of the issues are in the hands of the parliament and the government anyway, and not the president of the state. And since the post of the president is nevertheless exceptionally responsible and influential, Slovenian parties should already begin preparations of candidates for the next elections for the president of the state. This is Kucan's last mandate, and Slovenia still has noone who could successfully succeed the current president. But five years is a sifficiently long period for some new candidates to develop politically.

    Janja Klasinc

    AIM