Confessions of a Political Animal

September 22, 2008

European Left Watch: Breakthrough in Slovenia

Slovenian Parliament, Ljubljana

Slovenian Parliament, Ljubljana

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
Zares Centre-right liberals 9.4% n/a 9 n/a
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):

5 Comments »

  1. […] 21 September: Slovenia (National Assembly)  Social Democrat led coalition defeats incumbent right-wingers – post here. […]

    Pingback by Left behind in Europe « Confessions of a Political Animal — September 26, 2008 @ 11:03 am | Reply

  2. […] emerging from this is that no-one really knows what will happen next. With government formation in Slovenia still continuing a week after the election (which produced a similarly tied-result, albeit without […]

    Pingback by European Left Watch: Still ahead in Austria, but will the SPO get to lead? « Confessions of a Political Animal — September 29, 2008 @ 9:51 am | Reply

  3. […] post for explanation). We are still awaiting a final outcome of the government formations in both Slovenia and Austria – in both cases the centre-left party leader has been commissioned to form a […]

    Pingback by European Left Watch: Out of office in Lithuania « Confessions of a Political Animal — October 27, 2008 @ 10:25 pm | Reply

  4. […] that has been gripping the world’s attention: Slovenia is about to have a new government. We reported back in September that the Slovenian Social Democrat partyhad narrowly emerged as the largest party in the […]

    Pingback by European Left Watch: Endgame in Slovenia « Confessions of a Political Animal — November 7, 2008 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

  5. Zares is not a centre-right party. Zares is, in fact, a splinter party which defected from Liberal democrats (LDS), but they were more left leaning members than opposite. Members of Zares consider themselves social liberals, which is a mixture between liberalism and social democracy.

    You have to know that split in LDS wasn’t of right-left nature, but some other… more egoistic reasons. Both Zares and LDS are centre-left liberal parties, although I would say that Zares is a little bit more leftist and also populist.

    Take care,
    M.
    😉

    Comment by Marat — May 28, 2009 @ 12:33 pm | Reply


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