The Slovenia Times

Židan Elected Leader as SocDems, Announces More Radical Opposition to Privatisation



The 47-year-old Židan, who is currently serving his third term as agriculture minister, secured 252 votes from 286 delegates who were present at the congress after a debate lasting almost seven hours.

The congress also elected MEP Tanja Fajon and Defence Minister Janko Veber as deputy leaders, with the former beating out former MEP Mojca Kleva Kekuš and Veber defeating incumbent vice president Bojan Kontič in close races.

Six months after being tipped as the interim leader, Židan now takes over the party for a full four-year term. His priority will be completing the nudge back towards the left and bolstering the party's local network.

In addition to Židan, the election of Veber and Fajon rounds off a younger image for the SD, which has in recent years worked to reconcile positions of its traditional elements - the party emerged from the Communist Party of Slovenia after independence - and more moderate membership represented by a younger guard.

The debate earlier in the day focused on the party's platform after its lead on the left was eroded by new political parties which emerged from the anti-establishment protest movement of late 2012 ahead of the the snap poll in July of last year.

Promising to make common good the foundation of the party and labelling jobs as the main priority, Židan called for cooperation among political forces to set joint goals for the country.

Meanwhile, party officials denounced the populism of the radical left and called for stronger positions on key issues such as the sale of state assets and public services in an effort to fight back against the rise of its main rival on the left, the United Left (ZL).

Privatisation in particular was raised by a number of speakers as a make-or-break issue for the party.

After the vote, Židan told the press after the election that the SD will "no longer accept a debate on the fire sale of state assets and would be ready to debate only the strategy of managing [state] assets".

The document has been in the making for some time and the SD hopes it will be finalised quickly to set once and for all the strategy for handling and disposing of state-owned companies in the face of mounting debates about whether Slovenia is overly eager to sell its family silver.

A veterinarian by vocation, Židan entered politics in 2010 after a stint as chairman of food company Panvita. He has become one of the most popular politicians in Slovenia since and will hope to tap into his popularity to bolster the standing of the party which led the government only four years ago.

He announced after the vote that his sights are on controlled growth of the party through the expansion of membership, especially after some of the local committees were hit by departures last year.

A large share of the responsibility in that department will go to Dejan Levanič, the former MP who was elected the secretary general of the party today and will take over from long-term party strategist Uroš Jauševec.

Židan said that he expected Levanič to breathe fresh air into the workings of the party, so that it will open up to the ideas of civil society and bolster contacts with like-minded parties in the EU.


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