In the early life of this blog, I promised to keep a watch on the electoral fortunes of Labour’s sister parties in Europe. And whilst it isn’t big (but is certainly beautiful), and the current incumbent of the White House isn’t quite sure about its identity, our first point of call is the republic of Slovenia, pop. 2.02 million and the richest of the former Yugoslav states.
Slovenia went to the polls yesterday in a parliamentary general election for the Drzavni zbor (National Assembly), with a turnout of 62.2%. Whilst the results are not yet official, at least in part due to the need to await overseas votes (these account for over 2.5% of the electorate and are expected by Wednesday), it seems highly likely that a coalition led by the Socialni demokrati(Social Democrats – in part a descendant of the Yugoslav Communist Party) will have narrowly defeated the incumbent centre-right coalition of Prime Minister Janez Jansa. The result is something of a surprise, as opinion polls as late as last week were giving a sizable lead to Jansa, despite corruption allegations, although the most recent polls suggested the race was tightening.
It now seems likely that Social Democrat leader Borut Pahor (currently an MEP) will become Prime Minister at the head of a three party coalition involving left-leaning centerist Liberalna democracija Slovenije (Slovenian Liberal Democratic Party) and the new Zares party, formed last year by right-wing defectors from the Liberal Democrats. This coalition is likely to be able to command 43 seats, compared to the 40 for the current right-wing coalition. An alternative coalition partner would be DESUS (Democratic Party of Slovenian Pensioners), who could replace one of the other parties or supplement the coalition’s majority. Despite left-of-centre leanings, DESUS had been a junior partner in Jansa’s coalition, but has expressed a willingness to work with a new centre-left government. Assuming that a Pahor-led does come to pass, this will be the first occasion in Slovenia’s brief history as an independent nation that the Social Democrats have headed the government. Whilst they were part of government coalitions from 1992 to 1996 and 2000 to 2004, this was always as a junior partner to the Liberal Democrats. This latter party’s implosion last year has cleared the way for the Social Democrats to form a coalition as the senior partner.
There seems little chance that the centre-left victory will lead to any kind of break with the broadly neo-liberal economic policies pursued by the previous government, although the Social Democrats have pledged to increase welfare spending, particularly at the expense of defence investment. With high inflation and unemployment having played a major role in forcing the right from office, the new coalition would be well advised to at least come good on that pledge.
A summary of the results for parties that have (or had) parliamentary representation is below:
|Party||Politics||2008 vote share||Change from 2004||Seats||Change from 2004|
|Socialni demokrati||Social democrat||30.5%||+20.33%||29||+19|
|Slovenska demokratska stranka||Free market centre-right||29.32%||+0.24%||28||-1|
|Demokraticna stranka upokojencev Slovenije||Centre-left pensioners party||7.45%||+3.41%||7||+3|
|Slovenska nacionalna stranka||Populist right nationalism||5.46%||-0.81%||5||-1|
|Slovenska ljudska stranka in Stranka mladih Slovenije||Centre-right environmentalist||5.24%||-3.66%||5||-2|
|Liberalna demokracija Slovenije||Liberal centre-left||5.19%||-17.61%||5||-18|
|Nova Slovenija – Kršcanska ljudska stranka||Christian democrats||3.25%||-5.84%||0||-9|
A further two seats are guaranteed for the Hungarian and Italian minorities within Slovenia.
I will update this post when details of the coalition government are announced. A Social Democrat-led coalition has now been formed – post here.
And just time for a quick look at the political map of Europe with a new red blob on it (explanation of colours in this post):