10/11/2002 - D-7
The presidential election that will take place on 10th November will be a close one.
Nine people were officially designated as candidates by the Slovenian electoral commission on 21st October. They are:
Janez Drnovsek, the current Prime Minister, candidate for the Liberal Democrat Party of Slovenia (LDS) ;
Barbara Brezigar, former Justice minister and present State Prosecutor, supported by the Social Democrat Party of Slovenia (SDS) and by New Slovenia (Nsi);
France Arhar, former governor of the Central Bank of Slovenia;
Zmago Jelincic, candidate for the Slovenian Nationalist Party (SNS);
France Bucar, first president of Parliament, supported by the Young Slovenian Party (SMS) and two other movements that have no representation in Parliament;
Anton Bebler, candidate of the Democratic Party of Slovenian Pensioners (DeSUS) ;
Lev Kreft, supported by the social democrat coalition (ZLSD) ;
Jure Cekuta, independent candidate;
Gorazd Drevensek, supported by the New Party.
Opinion polls put Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek ahead with slightly more than 30% of the intention to vote. He would not therefore be in a position to win the 50% majority necessary to win the first round and will probably have to face Barbara Brezigar during the second round. She is the only woman in the election, has the support of the social democrat opposition and is credited with around 20% of the intention to vote in the first round. No other candidate is due to go beyond the 6% mark in numbers of votes; France Arhar and Zmago Jelincic should win 5% of the vote each, France Bucar, 3%, Anton Bebler, 1%, Lev Kreft and Jure Cekuta, 0,4%, Gorazd Drevensek being the candidate with the weakest popular support.
In January, Janez Drnovsek was re-elected to lead his movement, the Liberal Democrat Party of Slovenia with 97% of the vote. If he becomes President of the Republic of Slovenia, as forecast by all the opinion polls, the quest will be on to find his replacement as Prime Minister and also to choose the leader of his party. Anton Rop, current Finance Minister is favourite to take Janez Drnovsek's place either as Prime Minister or as the head of the Liberal Democrat Party of Slovenia. Gregorij Golobic, former secretary general of the LDS has also been quoted as a possible successor to the present Prime Minister at the head of the party.
The LDS which is the biggest movement in the ruling coalition incorporates three trends. The first rallies the former members of the Communist League of Ex-Yugoslavia, the second, the economic elite of the 1980's and the third comprises Liberals. Although Janez Drnovsek has always managed to maintain harmony within his movement his departure is likely to endanger the present equilibrium between the different trends, and therefore make his successor's task a difficult one.
Apart from choosing the President of the Republic, Slovenians are also called on 10th November to renew the National Council, the second house of Parliament comprising 40 MP's and their local councillors. If as forecast no candidate manages to win an absolute majority in the first round the second round of the Presidential election will take place on 1st December.