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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

    SAT, 21 OCT 2000 00:11:30 GMT

    Slovenia and Elections

    Victory of the Left

    Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) of Janez Drnovsek won a convincing victory in parliamentary elections, and parties from the left part of the political spectre gained in strength. The six-month long rule of the Right headed by prime minister Andrej Bajuk ended in a fiasco. Just 15 minutes after closing of the polling stations, based on parallel voting it became clear that the new mandatary of Slovenian government was Janez Drnovsek. During the next four years he will rule much more easily and comfortably than in his previous term in office.

    AIM Ljubljana, October 15, 2000

    At seven o'clock in the afternoon, the voting ended and counting of the votes began. Fifteen minutes later, electronic media (unofficially) informed the citizens who the winner was, and who was defeated. The official outcome of the parliamentary elections was clear about two hours later. It was clear that parallel elections organised by both (rival) TV stations (national TV Slovenia and POP TV) were an excellent indicator. In the course of the day the first channel of national TV and POP TV had collected results of the so-called "exit" or parallel voting. A specialised agency had done the job for each one of them by putting up ballot boxes for (repeated) voting in front of a couple dozen official polling stations. After leaving the polling stations the voters were asked to simply fill out the ballots again at request and for the needs of television stations. Previously it had been explained to the public that such "exit" voting was a practice in Western democracies, and that they are characterised by a minimum percentage of error. The results may vary up to 5 per cent, and both agencies claim that in case of this vote in Slovenia the error will not exceed 1 per cent.

    By midnight votes were counted on about 90 per cent of the ballots (little less than one million voters). The results are not final yet, but they show that LDS won about 35.96 per cent of the votes or 33 seats in the parliament which has the total of 88 seats. The second best is Social Democratic Party of Slovenia (SDS) of Janez Jansa with about 15.75 per cent and 14 seats in the parliament. The third is the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD) which is the party of reformed League of Communists of Slovenia of Borut Pahor with 12.28 per cent or 11 seats. Then comes the greatest loser of these elections - SLS+SKD. This clumsy abbreviation conceals the Populist Christian Democratic Party of Joze Zagozen with about 10.13 per cent of the votes or nine seats. Nova Slovenia (N.Si) of former prime minister Andrej Bajuk follows with 8.55 per cent or eight deputies in the assembly.

    Three minor parties are at the bottom of the list having just crossed the threshold for entering the parliament (with 4 per cent of the votes). These are the party of pensioners DeSUS with 5.3 per cent of the votes or five seats, Slovenian National Party (SNS) of Zmago Jelincic with about 4.33 per cent of the votes or four deputies in the parliament and finally the biggest surprise of all - Party of the Youth of Slovenia (SMS) with 4.25 per cent or three seats in the parliament.

    The parliament is completed by the election of two representatives from the ranks of the official Slovenian minorities which is specific for Slovenia. Hungarian minority (with about 6600 voters) was expected to elect one representative out of five candidates, but it is certain that the seat will be taken by their former deputy Marija Poszonec. About 2600 voters of Italian minority from the region of Primorska (out of which one third turned out at the polling stations) had a slightly easier job to do; they had the possibility to elect one candidate out of the possible one, so that Robert Bateli will be their representative again.

    Commentators are, however, worried by the fact that Slovenian parliament is starting to resemble a trade union unit, since two “generation” parties – the party of the young and the party of the elderly – have invaded the political scene. Somewhat disappointed Janez Jansa (he fared worse than four years ago, in 1996) could not resist to note that no European state had experienced a similar phenomenon, and that in Slovenia it was obviously possible to make a profit from being old or young making a political platform out of it. DeSUS has already spent (many say – constructive) four years in power (it was even a coalition partner in Drnovsek’s government), but at the moment nobody knows what the party of the “young” (its president is in his early twenties and boasts that he has voted for the first time). While the “young” decide what they will do with their three (in relation to 88) votes in the parliament, the pensioners do not have such problems – they will like before primarily take care about preservation of their pensions, rights of the elderly and similar.

    The third curiosity of yesterday’s election is the new breakthrough of SNS of Zmago Jelincic. Jelincic is the only politician who has changed not only his party’s platform, but his part of the electorate, as well. He set out as an ardent nationalist, continued as a critic of growing appetites of the Catholic Church and on the eve of the elections rounded off his orbit as a critic of the European Union and delegate of “unrecognised” minorities which live in Slovenia, primarily the Serbs.

    Regardless of all the bizarre characteristics of this year’s elections, one thing is certain – LDS has won a big victory. All three parties of the Right from the government of Andrej Bajuk (SLS+SKD, SDS and N.Si) put together can hardly be a strong opposition, which was the case with the previous composition of the parliament. All three put together do not have as many votes as LDS alone, which will form coalitions, probably with ZLSD. It is interesting to make a comparison with 1996 elections: nowadays Drnovsek’s LDS is by about 8 per cent stronger than four years ago, Pahor’s United List by about 3.2 per cent, and Jelincic’s SNS (whose ruin was desired and forecast by many) has grown by about 1.1 per cent, while Jansa’s SDS ranks second, although it has “fallen” by about 0.2 per cent. The merger of Zagozen’s Populists and Christian Democrats has lost the most – 10 per cent of the votes. It is assumed that this party has lost these (potential) 10 per cent in municipalities where this party is traditionally strong who simply did not go to the polls.

    This time the voters punished both Zagozen and Jansa. Their poor rating is the result of numerous wrong moves the right parties have made since spring to this day. Let us be reminded. First, in March this year, the Populist Party of Podobnik brothers stepped out of the government and caused the fall of Drnovsek’s cabinet. A several-month long crisis followed and Drnovsek came out of it as a victim of conspiracy. Both parties from the Right of Christian democratic orientation created a new party in the meantime (SLS+SKD) and with a majority of a single vote in the parliament formed the new government led by Argentinian Slovene Andrej Bajuk. That is when the insulted LDS withdrew its support to the majority election system which brought about the split in the Right. SLS changed its mind and gave up on the majority election system which was the life of project of Janez Jansa. A month later Jansa returned the strike by giving Bajuk support in causing the split of SLS and founding New Slovenia. That is how Bajuk’s government from the very beginning lived miserably, torn by internal quarrels and ambitions of its leaders. To make matters even worse – it made increasingly unpopular personnel moves. The punishment that followed was expected.

    The large advantage and new force of LDS is already causing suspicion of certain commentators who are afraid that Drnovsek will “rule too comfortably”. On the other hand, such developments enable (the probable mandatary) Janez Drnovsek to establish the government very easily. The most probable coalition is that of LDS with United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD) and Zagozen’s Populist SLS+SKD which would give them superiority of about 59 seats in the parliament, and it can still count on the support of those two votes of the minorities, of the pensioners, the young and, maybe or at least occasionally – Jelincic’s SNS. The other, less probable coalition could be the one of LDS on the one, and SDS plus N.Si on the other side. There were speculations about this coalition before the elections, but now, due to stronger positions of parties of the Left, it is less probable. Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that in the next four, very important years, Slovenia will be led by left coalitions and the right will be in the opposition.

    Igor Mekina

    (AIM Ljubljana)