The Slovenia Times

The Alpine Tiger has cast its vote


According to various estimates, the parliamentary elections actually failed to produce a winner as the votes cast were dispersed across numerous political parties. As a result, none of the parties received sufficient support to form a coalition and govern comfortably. Others believe the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) was the convincing winner and that their victory indicates that the Slovenian electorate desires a shift to rightist and more conservative politics that would firmly represent Slovenian national interests. Then there are those who say that the voters have expressed their support for the left political parties, clearly voicing their opposition to the "Orbánisation" of the state, i.e. state leadership that follows the example of Viktor Orbán, the Hungarian Prime Minister.

Participating in this year's parliamentary elections were 25 political parties, which is the most Slovenia has seen in the 27 years of its independence. Successfully making it into the parliament were 9 parties, which is also a record. The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) won 25 seats with the majority of votes, followed by the List of Marjan Šarec (LMŠ) lagging far behind with 13 seats, and the remaining seven parties that each received more than four percent of the votes, the threshold for making it to the parliament. For a better picture of the power relations - the Slovenian Parliament seats a total of ninety members of the parliament.

If you are not an overly enthusiastic follower of Slovenian politics - which seems highly likely for a reader of The Slovenia Times - then this data is most probably of little help. At the moment, Slovenia is in very good economic shape, economic growth numbers are impressive and the forecasts by international institutions are promising. It would be a long shot to designate Slovenia as the Alpine Tiger by analogy with Asian and Celtic counterparts, but it is not far from the truth. Therefore, it seems sensible to ask why Slovenians are so agitated, stressed and constantly quarrelling about politics when, in reality, the country is not doing too badly at all - on the contrary, it is doing extremely well. The unemployment rate continues to drop, foreign investments are on the rise, tourism has developed to the point where the myriad of visitors are starting to get on people's nerves, and company revenues are increasing dramatically. With all this, politics should be the last thing that the public is concerned about, people should be focusing on other, more entertaining and useful things.

But that is not the case. Slovenians are willing to debate and fight for hours on end about political questions, partisans and home guards, Janša and Kučan, the Left and the Right, liberals and conservatives, patriotism and multiculturalism, and safety and human rights. Paradoxically, the passion for political debate is not reflected in electoral participation. The latter has been dropping since Slovenia gained independence in 1991. These parliamentary elections were only attended by a little more than half of all eligible voters (52 percent). Such a low turnout cannot be explained by suggesting that Slovenians are so satisfied that they do not think it is necessary to vote. Just the opposite - it is a sign of revolt and dissatisfaction with politics and the politicians who are, supposedly, all the same. I could write an extensive essay on the reasons for such perception, but that is not the purpose of this article and so I will leave it be. Certainly, the general decline in the reputation of politics and the consequent electoral boycotts have become such a serious problem that Slovenia will have to start actively resolving it.

What kind of a government is Slovenia to expect after the June elections? Perhaps a better question would be whether the formation of a new government is even possible, seeing how all the parties belonging to the so-called Left Wing - whatever that means in Slovenia - have proclaimed that they are not willing to abandon their cause and cooperate with SDS and Janez Janša, the party's controversial leader. The convincing victory of SDS can only be credited to Janša himself but, paradoxically, he also happens to be his own biggest obstacle in preventing him from taking the lead in the parliament for a third time. Janša is an experienced politician who will not let this opportunity - which might just be the last in his extensive political career - simply pass him by. Thus, it will be interesting to observe how he will go about tackling what has already been coined 'Mission Impossible'. But we must not forget that 'never say never' is not a saying in politics - just remember the 2017 German elections where Martin Schulz, the then-leader of the Social Democrats, claimed firmly that he would not form a government with Angela Merkel. But in Slovenia the alternatives are scarce. If the triumphant SDS fails to form a coalition, the six left-wing parties are the next in line, and should they also fail, the only remaining option is another round of preliminary elections. At the moment, nobody dares to make any predictions as to what they might bring, aside from an even lower turnout!


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