The Slovenia Times

Opposition reveal candidates for EU election

The European Parliament in session in Strasbourg, France. Photo: Thierry Monasse/STA

Unlike the ruling coalition, Slovenia's two opposition parties have begun preparing for the June elections to the European Parliament in earnest by pitching their campaign points and unveiling their candidates.

Slovenia currently has eight members in the European Parliament (MEP), half of whom are affiliated with the centre-left coalition currently in power in the country, and the other half come from the two opposition parties and a fellow conservative party that is no longer represented in the national legislature.

Running on a joint ticket with the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS), the opposition Democrats (SDS) won a plurality in the 2019 election with 26.25% of the vote to win three seats, two of which went to the SDS and one to the SLS.

Both of these parties are members of the European People's Party, along with New Slovenia (NSi), the other opposition party, which has one MEP in the current European Parliament.

All four conservative MEPs will run for re-election, but on separate tickets as the three parties will contest the 9 June election solo, after attempts by the NSi to pair with another akin party have failed. This time Slovenia will have nine seats in the European Parliament.

Tomc lead candidate for SDS

The SDS has revealed that MEP Romana Tomc will top its list of candidates ahead of MEP Milan Zver and party vice president Aleš Hojs, who served as interior minister in the 2020-22 government of SDS leader Janez Janša.

The list also includes MPs Franc Breznik and Branko Grims, former Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler, former Health Ministry state secretary Alenka Forte, party's youth branch member Karin Planinšek and Zala Tomašič, the youth branch's secretary for international affairs.

"Being the lead candidate, I accept this with great responsibility. We bring together knowledge, experience and wisdom, as well as youthful energy, elan and new ideas," Tomc wrote on X on 6 February, expressing confidence that the candidates would prove to be a winning team in the election.

NSi to run with party leader and Novak

NSi released the names of its candidates in early January, naming MEP Ljudmila Novak and party leader Matej Tonin, along with three other NSi deputies in the National Assembly, Janez Cigler Kralj, Vida Čadonič Špelič and Jernej Vrtovec. Novak has been serving as the party's MEP since 2019.

The party plans to determine the order in which they will appear on the ballot in spring. At the time the party said Novak no longer made her running conditional on being the lead candidate, something that she had in the past. "The NSi is heading into the election strong and united," the party said.

Bogovič to seek third term

SLS MEP Franc Bogovič will run for another term but will not top the party's ticket. Instead, the top candidate will be Peter Gregorčič, who headed the programme council of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija until it was disbanded as new governing bodies took over under legislation adopted by the current government.

Commenting on the party's decision in November to put Gregorčič, who is not an SLS member, on top of the party ticket, Bogovič said he was happy Gregorčič accepted the invitation to stand. "In this way we're broadening our ranks and giving younger people an opportunity to enter politics," he said.

Bogovič has managed to get into the European Parliament twice by winning enough preferential votes on two-party tickets, once as the SLS paired with the SDS and once with the NSi.

Most parties yet to reveal candidates

Other parties have not revealed their candidates yet, except for Vesna, a small non-parliamentary green party, which said on 7 February that its top candidate will be Vladimir Prebilič, the mayor of Kočevje who picked 10.6% of the vote in the first run of the 2022 presidential election as the fourth strongest candidate.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether Anže Logar, an MP for the SDS and the former foreign minister, has any intention of taking part in the election after he formed his own debate forum called Cooperation Platform with a group of like-minded people in May 2023 which everyone appears to expect will turn into a party.

Migration main campaign topic

Judging by the advocacy points set out so far by the two opposition parties, migration will be a major campaign topic, along with how to proceed with green transition.

SDS leader Janez Janša set the tone of debate at a 17 January event in Koper, when he singled out migration as the main topic ahead of the European election, describing the issue as a social, economic and security problem.

He said most of "those who we come across are not coming to look for a better life for their families, but to live at someone else's expense". He accused the mainstream media of blurring the distinction between different groups of migrants and of serving "cultural Marxism" that looks to "decompose the nation".

He said left-wing parties across Europe were inviting migrants to increase their voter base, claiming that the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), for instance, had seats mostly in districts where the German population was in the minority.

Meanwhile, the NSi looks set to mobilise its voters with a campaign dubbed We won't give up our firewood and gas against the government's plan to ban biomass and gas boilers as the primary heating source in new homes as part of the efforts to implement European green deal commitments.

Even though Prime Minister Robert Golob has announced that the government will remove the ban on biomass from the reform energy bill, the party has filed for a consultative referendum on the bill, arguing that the changes will affect people's daily lives so much they should be involved in the decision-making process.

Neglecting the fact that the proposal only affects new homes, the party has been claiming that the bill is prohibiting the use of firewood and pushing the nation into poverty, stripping people of the freedom of choice.

SDS projected to win most seats

While the major pollsters have not yet released any polls on the European elections yet, a seat projection study commissioned by the European Council on Foreign Relations and released in late January forecasts a shift to the right in Slovenia like in the rest of Europe.

The SDS is projected to win four seats, and the NSi one, with the Freedom Movement, the party of PM Golob, which is part of the Renew group, forecast to win three seats and its coalition partners Social Democrats (SD), part of the S&D, one.

Meanwhile, a poll commissioned by the Nova24TV station in late January projected for the SDS to win 29.7% of the vote, followed by the SD with 16.1% and the Freedom Movement with 13.9%.


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