03/10/2004 - D-7
With the general elections just a few days away on 3 October, two contrary trends are emerging in the opinion polls. Interviewees are increasingly declaring that they would like to see a change in the ruling team whilst simultaneously the Liberal Democrat Party (LDS) - who rule the country at present - retain the leading position across all the polls. More than half of those interviewed (58.5%) say they are in favour of a change in politics and government according to the most recent poll published on 22 September by the political weekly Mag, - a result that is up by six points in comparison with the one achieved with the same question three weeks previously. In the same poll the Liberal Democrat Party is still ahead, with 29% of the intention to vote versus 25.4% for its main rival, the Democrat Party (SDS). Third lie New Slovenia (Nsi) with 15.4% of the vote followed by the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), 10%. Two other parties just manage to rise above the 4% mark of valid votes: the Popular Party (SLS) with 4.4% of the vote and the National Party 4%. Finally the Democratic Pensioners Party (DeSUS) wins 3.8% of the vote; the Youth Party (SMS) 2.2%; the two non-parliamentarian parties, Our Slovenia (SNJ), and Active Slovenia (AS) win 2.2% and 1.6% of the vote respectively. Moreover political analysts believe that the participation level should reach 60%.
The Liberal Democrat Party and the Democrat Party have relatively similar economic programmes; each of the two parties presents numerous social measures. When interviewed on 11 September last by the daily Delo, Anton Rop, (LDS) and Janez Jansa (SDS), the two pretenders to the leader's seat if either of their party is victorious, have however revealed differences in their view of Slovenia's future. Present Prime Minister Anton Rop is promoting his government's success during its mandate (economic development and improvement in the population's standard of life, accession to the European Union, future adoption of the euro). The Liberal Democrat Leader, whose campaign slogan is "Together we shall change Slovenia", has promised that his next mandate would focus on companies, education, research and innovation. For his part Janez Jansa has promised to improve access to healthcare and education, to develop environmental policy and to ensure a decent income for all. The Democrat Party leader is also against the present government's project to divide Slovenia into three regions (Ljubljana, Maribor and Koper) and pleads the cause of more decentralisation with the establishment of twelve or fourteen regions.
Nearly all the ministers and a great number of outgoing MP's (26 out of 34) from the Liberal Democrat Party will stand on 3 October next. Dusan Mramor, Finance Minister is the only member of the government team not to be aspiring for a mandate in the National Assembly.
As for the United List of Social Democrats, the LDS's partner in government, Rado Bohmic, Interior Minister and Andreja Rihter, Culture Minister are standing for re-election. Only Borut Pahor, who became Parliament's spokesperson after having been elected as Euro MP on 13th June last, will not be taking part in the election.
Twenty-five lists will be running in these general elections versus twenty-three during the first election on 15 October 2000. Amongst these are eight lists made up of parties who are at present members of Parliament, fourteen comprise non-parliamentary parties, three lists are non-partisan (For a Slovenia of Entrepreneurs, the June List and the Union for a Just and Independent Slovenia). Three independent candidates will also be standing in this general election; they are Stefan Hudobivnik who will be standing in Novo Mesto, Mihael Svanjak and Marko Brecelj in Postojna.
There is only one person, Roberto Battelli, at present an MP, will stand for the Italian community of Slovenia in Parliament; there are five for the Hungarian community. Apart from Maria Pozsonec, an MP at present, there is Josef Kocon, Mayor Lendava, Franc Vida, a business man from Trimlinov, Gyoergy Tomka, president of the Council of the National Hungarian Community of Pomurje and Janez Bogdan, an agricultural engineer from Goricko. We should remember that the Hungarian and Italian minorities each have a seat in the National Assembly, seats that are guaranteed to them by the Slovenian Constitution.
Finally it should be noted that the June List is a party comprising the greatest number of women amongst its candidates (55%); 28% of the candidates running for the Liberal Democrat Party are women versus 11% in the Democrat Party, the lowest figure out of all the lists running in these general elections.
The Democrat Party, New Slovenia, and the Popular Party have clearly shown their intention to rule together if they win. If the Liberal Democrat Party wins it will renew its government alliance with the Democratic Pensioners Party and the United List of Social Democrats.
But the general elections will in the main depend on the participation rate. Indeed the fewer voters there are who turn out to vote, greater the chance will be for the opposition parties, such as the Democrat Party and New Slovenia, whose electorate are the most motivated and the most disciplined, to assert themselves. Seven voters in ten (69.9%) voted in the last election on 15 October 2000, a participation rate that has declined regularly since the start of the 1990's. In addition to this the Slovenians, who were believed to be the most pro-European of the new Member States in the Union revealed the greatest number of abstainers out of the Twenty Five on 13 June last. This high abstention rate went hand in hand with the victory of the opposition parties. The mobilisation of the electorate will therefore comprise the decisive detail in the general elections in Slovenia on 3 October next.