The Slovenia Times

EU Elections in Slovenia Overshadowed by Domestic Issues



The turnout in the European elections is expected to remain low in Slovenia, as a majority of public opinion polls suggest that around a third of the electorate is to show up at the polls on Sunday.

The election campaign is in full swing, but domestic topics have remained in the focus, according to the first televised debate involving top candidates for seats in the European Parliament.

Thursday's debate on the national television revolved about the break-up of the ruling Positive Slovenia (PS) and Bratušek's resignation, the fact that the left has splintered into a number of parties and lists, and the sentencing of opposition leader Janez Janša in the Patria bribery case.

The debaters were not able to avoid the number one topic both in the EU and nationally - the economic crisis, as well as the troika and austerity measures, salvaging of banks and the question of how to kick-start the economy.

Boštjan Udovič, a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences, has assessed for the STA that this year's EU election campaign has failed to reach the people. Ten years into Slovenia's EU membership, the trust of voters in the union is low and this will be hard to change, he said.

If someone "votes for a party which twice claimed that the EU is 'milk and honey', only to find out that this is not the case", distrust and disinterest, as well as the appearance of lists such as the Facebook list "Dream job", are logical consequences, according to Udovič.

"I think that the first campaign in 2004 reached the people the best. One of the reasons was that they were more interested then. Today they are not interested any more and you have to invest much more to get them interested."

It is not enough to come to an event and hold a speech, according to Udovič. "People do not trust the EU, they have become distrustful. If you want to keep this European experiment alive, you must convince them that it is good."

He says that the winners are usually determined by internal affairs, and that this year's elections have been particularly overshadowed by domestic topics. News about the EU elections are becoming marginal in the Slovenian media, Udovič added.

Labelling the campaign soft and reserved, Udovič projects that the turnout will be very low. "If I hadn't followed all the media, then as an average citizen I wouldn't even know that we will have an EU election in a week."

The common thread of the campaign is that "all of them want to change something, but the question is in which direction". "If you asked a candidate what concretely they would change in the EU, I'm afraid you will get no answer", which is a huge problem, he added.

The European elections will thus be an important overture to the campaign for the general election, and a basis for a good result in the elections which are most likely to be held in mid-July.

The haste surrounding the snap election could produce a number of coalitions. It is believed that the opposition People's Party (SLS) and New Slovenia (NSi) will continue to cooperate, while the coalition Social Democrats (SD) have just recently called on the "splintered left parties" to come together.


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