The Slovenia Times

Analysts disagree on whether Fajon will manage to rally SD


Valicon pollster Andraž Zorko believes that Fajon could serve as an integrating element in the left-leaning party, which has been facing an identity and leadership crisis lately, while conservative columnist Rok Čakš is not as convinced, saying that much would depend on the reaction of the SD membership.

According to Čakš, the SD is a party with "deep grassroots", and the problem is that Fajon has not been present there as she has been serving as an MEP in Brussels for a long time.

"One could even say that, in a way, she is alienated from the very roots of the party," he said, adding that for this reason, it was not a given that the membership will accept her and that she will make the party more cohesive, as she herself announced.

On the other hand, Zorko believes that Fajon is probably a long-term solution for the SocDems. He noted that she "doubled the party's result and number of seats in the last European elections compared to the parliamentary election."

In 2014, she defeated the then SD president Igor Lukšič, who topped the party's EU election list, with preference votes, which "was a strong message back then", so he is convinced that Fajon can significantly boost the party's popularity.

Asked whether she was prime-minister material, as the outgoing SD president Dejan Židan sees her, Čakš said this depended on whether she manages to bring together the "cosmopolitan, urban left" and voters from the "main base of the SD - workers."

It may also be expected that Fajon will be able to take away a part of the supporters of the Left, but her success will largely depend on whether she manages to approach the "more moderate, left liberal base, which currently free and fluctuating."

The analysts agree that replacement at the helm of the SD was needed for a breakthrough, as it has shown in recent years that the party with Židan as its president has what Zorko labelled as a "certain limitation".

He expects Fajon to advocate a more urban direction of the party, but that she is also able to address its rural part, which is why she could be more successful than Židan. "I think that she will be able to integrate the party more than anyone else."

Čakš sees one of the reasons why the party failed to make a breakthrough in Židan "letting himself be drawn into a competition for voters with the more radical Left", which constrained the party in its expansion towards the centre.

Senior SD members welcomed Židan's decision to take over to Fajon after six years at the helm of the party, with deputy group head Matjaž Han saying that he had shown his intelligence "by withdrawing and helping the party in the process."

Han said that Fajon was able to take social democracy in Slovenia forward as she "has connections in Europe and the thing that Židan perhaps does not have - she knows how to articulate things differently."

SD secretary general Dejan Levanič said there was no pressure to replace the leadership, while admitting that talks on the party's future had been conducted for a while and that feedback from the ground suggested that the SD needed some fresh blood.

SD deputy and vice-president Matjaž Nemec labelled Fajon's appointment as a change on the Slovenian political map, while vice-president Andreja Katič said it was time to do things differently - pointing to Fajon's promise that she would engage people, NGOs and trade unions more.

MEP Milan Brglez thinks that Fajon is the right person to grow the party, and that taking over the government after the next election was an attainable goal.

Former SD president Igor Lukšič thinks that Fajon should seek confirmation at the party congress, so that she could go to the next election with a full mandate. He thinks that Fajon has the willpower and support to organise a good campaign.


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