The Slovenia Times

Looking for the Magic Formula



The snap elections of 2011 have left political parties somewhat unprepared. Based on the early opinion polls it seems that there will be three parties competing for the top position with the rest merely hoping to climb above the parliamentary threshold. Among those which have slipped to the sidelines are the majority of the past term's coalition parties. This reshuffle is also causing the migration of politicians to the strongest parties.
Here's a brief overview of the options available to Slovenes voting in the election. Included are all existing parliamentary parties and the three newbies which, according to the polls, have the best prospects of success.

The established players

SDS (Slovenian Democratic Party) has presented a comprehensive list of ideas in a programme dubbed "10+100". The idea is that the party would focus on ten measures in the first 100 days of its administration and on another 100 measures in the rest of the term. Leader Janez Janša has stressed that the party will strive to cut state expenditure. The aim is to thereby secure a high standard of living and reduce the burden on the economy so that it can grow and provide new jobs.
Among the most important measures would be reducing the number of ministries to ten, restoring social and intergenerational dialogue, supporting the creative and the enterprising, overcoming the credit crunch and reducing the time needed for zoning. Public spending would be limited to 45 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), labour costs would be cut, and those deemed responsible for bad management of banks would be held accountable - the party wants to see convictions for large-scale corporate crime.
SDS deputy and former economy minister Andrej Vizjak has announced the reduction of general corporate income tax to 15 percent and the introduction of tax holidays, 40 percent tax breaks for investments and 100 percent tax breaks for investments in research and development. The party would also introduce a social cap which it says would enable more competitiveness, lower costs and higher income for the employees creating the highest added value.
The ruling Social Democrats have not yet made public any particular priorities for the next term. In general, they remain committed to building a modern welfare state with welfare for everyone and fairer distribution of profit, a flexible environment, rational use of public funds and sustainable economic growth. Their programme calls for more equality in wages policy, less tax inequality, as well as modernisation of the pension system. The party also wants to bolster public education and public institutes in science and increase the amount of government investment in science and education.
The LDS (Liberal Democrats) has divided its platform into eight areas to be covered by eight ministries. Each area will have five priorities, which is why the programme is called "8x5". Their leader Katarina Kresal has labelled the programme "concrete and very to the point". She says it is different to that of other parties because it emphasises not only efficiency but also democracy and freedom. The focus is on classic human rights and freedoms, with women holding a special place in the programme, "as women were equal to men only on paper in Slovenia," says Kresal, who believes no progressive government can be formed without liberal values.
DESUS (Pensioners Party) will enter the general election race in an alliance with the non-parliamentary Slovenian Union (SU). DeSUS believes that the crisis can only be overcome with serious changes in social and economic affairs. Like many others, it wants to cut down the number of government agencies and ministries - the latter to a maximum of 10. It also plans to create a favourable business environment, consolidate public finances and the banking system, and hold the central bank accountable in matters of oversight. DeSUS would abolish the National Council - the upper chamber of parliament - and is against a wage freeze in the public sector or the privatisation of public services. It believes there should be greater worker participation in profit.
Zares is the only party that is seriously reconsidering the global neo-liberal model, including using GDP as the measurement of a country's success. Their manifesto declares that change is needed at all levels to create a sustainable and socially responsible economy, starting with reforms of "predatory legislation". Their plans include introducing a financial transaction tax, "green" tax reform, local self-sufficiency, and setting a maximum ratio between the highest and lowest salary.
The People's Party (SLS) also promises to trim down the number of cabinet departments to ten and to start streamlining the state from the very top of the public sector. It plans to take on challenges such as pension and health reform, but only based on active dialogue involving everyone. The party believes the state should keep controlling stakes in strategically important companies in the financial, infrastructure and food industries and ensure responsible management of these assets.
The National Party (SNS), embodied by its eccentric leader Zmago Jeličnič, remains faithful to a programme which emphasises "a sovereign and independent Slovenia". This is reflected in a sceptical approach to both Europe and Nato. The party also believes in the preservation of national heritage and authenticity and demands the changing of national symbols.

The debutants

Former public administration minister Gregor Virant's new party - the List of Gregor Virant - is focused on trimming the state at all levels and cutting spending. It says it would make no compromises in the fight against white-collar crime and corruption and is proposing complete state withdrawal from the media. The party has also promised "brutal penalties" for employers who fail to pay welfare contributions for their employees. Virant's measures to cut red tape include new e-services, for example in healthcare. Notary signatures would be made by administrative units and the land register and land cadastre merged. The party would reduce the number of institutions in public administration, abolishing certain agencies and cutting the number of ministries to ten. Public expenditure would be reduced in an "intelligent way" but taxes would not be increased. The party is committed to pension reform but says it should be carried out in a fair manner and in agreement with trade unions.
The list of Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković - named Positive Slovenia - is promising the creation of a safe and successful welfare state. It contends this goal can only be achieved with a strong economy with new jobs: four percent economic growth and a budget deficit under three percent of GDP. Janković promises new steps in the prosecution of crime and improvements in the work of the judiciary. The key plank of the party's manifesto is a clear economic strategy, streamlining of public administration and rescuing of NLB bank, though not with taxpayer money. Tax breaks for investments creating jobs with high added value would be introduced along with a rise in value added tax (VAT) by one percentage point to 21 percent.
The Party for Sustainable Development of Slovenia (TRS) has been the first new party to make some impact in the opinion polls, but not for long. Founded by journalist Manca Košir and former human rights ombudsman Matjaž Hanzek, the stated aim of the organisation is to restore honour in politics. Members say they believe in the values of solidarity, creativity, know-how, tolerance, justice and human rights. The party says it would strive for transparency in political and all other institutions, work to prevent concentration of unlawful power in social groups or individuals, and promote environmentally responsible action. It intends to support the development of those parts of the economy that are in tune with the needs of people and the environment, to reduce regional inequality, and to increase Slovenia's self-sufficiency in food and energy production.


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