The Slovenia Times

Tentative deal reached on electoral reform


The majority of parties are in favour of abolishing electoral districts, leaving only electoral units in which MPs would be elected with relative preferential votes, the president's office said on Friday after President Borut Pahor hosted the third round of consultations with parliamentary parties.

The new system would mean that Slovenia would have eight electoral units like now. Voters would vote for a list and award an optional preferential vote to a single candidate.

However, the preferential votes would not be absolute, they would only apply if a certain number of preferential votes are cast, using a formula currently used in EU elections.

In the event that each list in a unit contains 11 names as planned, preferential votes would apply once a candidate gets preferential votes corresponding to 4.5% of all votes for their list, according to the Public Administration Ministry.

The president's office said there are some misgivings about the threshold for preferential votes and the obligation to field a full list of candidates in a unit, but the ministry says this is normal at this point.

Changes are also planned for the election of MPs for the Hungarian and Italian minorities, with the majority agreeing that a first-past-the-post system should apply.

The participants agreed that a consolidated version of the proposal would now be written and the next meeting held on 12 July.

The electoral reform talks come after the Constitutional Court decided that that Slovenia must re-establish the one-person-one-vote rule.

Under the current system, there are eight units with eleven districts each, but there are huge differences between district sizes, to the extent that the court held voters are in an unequal position.

What is more, voters merely vote for party lists, not individuals, giving political parties almost absolute leverage over who from their list will be elected MP.

The court decreed a two-year period in which electoral law must change, which gives MPs until December 2020 to put in place new legislation.

From the start of the talks there were only two serious options: either redraw the borders of the 88 districts, or abolish districts altogether and conduct elections at the level of larger units with preferential votes.

The option of absolute preferential votes (where there is no threshold at which preferential votes kick in) was soon abandoned because it would completely strip party leaderships of the power to favour certain candidates.

With relative preferential votes, they retain at least some leverage over who makes it to parliament.

While it now appears that the parties are on board for the abolition of electoral districts, the statement from the president's office indicates the second option - redrawing the district maps - remains on the table.

It said that while the consolidated version of the proposal will be written, a proposal for changing the borders of electoral districts will be drafted in parallel, presumably by the end of August.

"That way, MPs will have two versions on the table," the ministry said. Redistricting requires 46 votes in the 90-member National Assembly, while the introduction of a preferential vote requires a two-thirds majority.


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