The Slovenia Times

Preparation for EU Elections Gearing Up



All eyes are currently on the liberal parties, in particular the coalition Positive Slovenia (PS) and Citizens' List (DL), and the prospect of them joining forces under the umbrella of the European political grouping ALDE, the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats.

The PS will join the ALDE after a year of wavering between the European liberals and socialists, an indication of the significant internal diversity of a party that was put together quickly ahead of the 2011 general election.

The party is currently assembling a list of potential candidates but has been mum about the names. It is also keeping quiet about potentially running Janez Potočnik, the European commissioner for the environment, who himself has been reluctant to comment.

As things stand now, it suggests the PS will form an independent list despite calls from ALDE that Slovenian liberal parties (two non-parliamentary parties are also ALDE members) should consider joining forces.

The DL is also keeping open the option of joining a single list under the ALDE banner as all options remain open, including candidacy of its president, Gregor Virant.

The non-parliamentary Liberal Democrats (LDS) plan to put MEP Jelko Kacin on the top of their list if they decide to run independently, but LDS president Tone Anderlič suggested for the STA a joint ALDE list would be a good solution.

The fourth Slovenian ALDE member, Zares, has had a torrid start to the campaign as their MEP, Ivo Vajgl, broke rank and decided to run with the support of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS).

A joint ALDE list could improve the electoral changes of the entire liberal bloc, but it appears riddled with difficulty considering the fraught history of the parties and quite open animosity between some of the key players.

On the right, meanwhile, the People's Party (SLS) and New Slovenia (NSi) look close to forging an alliance. The talks are still ongoing and a final decision is expected in mid-March, according to NSi president Ljudmila Novak.

If the two parties join forces, Lojze Peterle, currently serving his second term as MEP, will top the list, and he will be the top candidate in a possible independent NSi list as well.

Peterle, a former prime minister and foreign minister, is the most high-profile Slovenian member of the European Parliament and has proven to possess huge drawing power.

With him at the helm, the NSi has achieved results far above its usual reach, winning the 2004 election with 23.6% of the vote and coming third in 2009.

The joining of forces has led to increased friction on the right, bringing the two parties in conflict with the Democrats (SDS), long the dominant rightist party and winner of the 2009 EU election.

Nevertheless, the SDS is reckoned to be the top candidate for a win considering recent approval ratings and the way it has dominate the political discourse in the opposition.

Another aspect that speaks in its favour is the archives referendum, which could be held on the same day as the EU vote and has pitted the SDS against the NSi in arguments about just how closed Yugoslav-era archives would be under the challenged amendments to the archives law.

The SDS has been secretive about its candidates, but unofficial information suggests MEP Milan Zver will top the list alongside Zofija Mazej Kukovič.

There are also rumours that Dimitrij Rupel, former foreign minister, would be near the top of the candidates' list.

The big parties can realistically hope to get two or a maximum three of the eight seats, suggesting that two-term SDS MEP Romana Jordan is unlikely to be elected even if she is put on the ballot.

One of the parties likely to rank high according to the latest polls is the Social Democrats (SD).

Around 30 potential candidates have been registered, among them party head Igor Lukšič, but it is not yet clear whether he will top the list.

It is already clear that the current MEPs, Tanja Fajon and Mojca Kleva Kekuš, will seek a second term.

There will be several minnows in addition to the big established players, including the National Party (SNS) and the Youth Party - Greens (SMS), which plan to field independent lists.

Perhaps the biggest unknown is the parties and groups that have grown out of the anti-establishment protests in late 2012; for them this will be the first test of electability.

The recently founded Solidarity plans to join forces with the Sustainable Development Party (TRS) and the Initiative for Democratic Socialism under the United Left banner, though that is by no means certain considering how fractitious they have been in recent months.

"It would be wise to band together, but until we meet it is impossible to say how realistic that option is," Uroš Lubej, one of the three co-presidents of Solidarity, told the STA.

The collection of signatures starts on Monday and the vote is scheduled for 25 May.


More from Nekategorizirano