Pahor tells Electoral Commission he’ll call general election for 24 April

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor has formally informed the National Electoral Commission (DVK) that he will sign a presidential decree for a general election on 9 February, setting Sunday, 24 April, as the election date. This is in line with his earlier announcement that he would call this year’s election at the earliest possible date.

Pahor believes that despite the Covid epidemic, the DVK has enough time to prepare and organise the election so that no shadow of doubt would be cast on the election outcome.

He recalled in Thursday’s press statement that all but one deputy group agreed 24 April was the best possible date when consulting them in November, and he shared their view.

Before Pahor’s November announcement of the election date, there were mounting calls for an early election due to the government’s handling of the epidemic and its perceived undermining of the rule of law.

However, opposition SNS leader Zmago Jelinčič would still like the election to be held on the last possible date, 5 June, arguing the epidemic would subside by then.

Pahor said that while “this is a legitimate stance, it’s within my powers and it’s my responsibility to decide, sign the decree and call the election”.

He said that over 40 local, regional or general elections had been held in Europe over the past two years, with the countries finding various ways to held them smoothly.

He is grateful to DVK members for today’s constructive discussion, saying he did not doubt they would do their best for the election to be held so that “we’ll all trust the outcome, and that despite the Covid situation, everyone will have a chance to exercise their right to vote”.

DVK president Peter Golob said the commission members had assured Pahor they would do everything in their power for the election to be held legally and flawlessly.

They also told Pahor “the electoral legislation does not envisage all electoral procedures to be carried out in these (Covid] circumstances”.

They thus suggested that the legislation be changed or that the government intervene with certain decisions, Golob was quoted as saying by the president’s office.

In this view, Pahor was asked that as a political and moral authority, he urges all stakeholders to start tackling the challenges as soon as possible.

Earlier this week, the DVK discussed ways of making sure people can cast their ballots even if they have to isolate or quarantine, deciding to seek additional inputs from health authorities before proceeding with the debate.

Slovenia does have a system of mail-in voting and absentee voting, but the way these rules are designed, voters have to register well in advance, which may not be suitable in a time when thousands are sent into quarantine or isolation on a daily basis.

Under Slovenian law, a scheduled general election is called 135-75 days before four years have passed since the first sitting of the current parliament. The vote must be held between 60 and 90 days after the election is called. The last general election, a snap vote, was held on 3 June 2018.