12/10/2007 - D-7 - 1st round
Seven candidates are vying for the votes of 1,696,473 Slovenians voters in the first round of the presidential election that will take place on 21st October next. The number of candidates, two less than in 2002 is the lowest figure recorded since the country's independence. Early voting will take place between 16th and 18th October. For the very first time the electorate will be able to vote in any polling station across the country no matter where they live. Those who want to fulfil their civic duty in another place other than where they live will simply have to notify the local electoral commission three days before the election. 50,000 Slovenians living abroad will be able to vote by proxy or in the 34 polling stations provided in the countries where they live.
14 had been planning to run the presidential race initially but only half of them managed to obtain the required support; i.e. that of at least 10 MPs, 5,000 voters or that of a political party that has to have the support of three MPs and 3000 voters.
The seven candidates are:
- Alojz Peterle, 59 years old, former Prime Minister (1990-1992) and current MEP, is supported by three government parties that lie to the right on the political scale: New Slovenia Party-Popular Christian Party (Nsi), Democrat Party (SDS) and the Popular Party (SLS);
- Mitja Gaspari, 55 years old, former governor of the Central Bank (architect of the introduction of the euro into Slovenia in January 2007) and former Finance Minister (1992-2000);
- Danilo Türk, 55 years old, professor of international law at the University of Ljubljana, former diplomat and advisor to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan from 2000-2005, is supported by the opposition parties: the Social-Democrat Party (SD), the Democratic Party of Pensioners (DeSUS) and the Zares Party (Real), founded on 6th October by several independent MPs, former members of the Liberal Democrat Party;
- Zmago Jelincic, 59 years old, MEP, leader of the National Party (SNS);
- Elena Pecaric, 35 years old, leader of the Association Youth Handicapped Deprivileged, supported by the Akacije Party;
- Darko Krajnc, 32 years old, leader of the Youth Party (SMS);
- Monika Piberl, 57 years old, leader of Women's Voice.
"I shall pay special attention to the Welfare State and to the development of social awareness. I believe that everyone should be able to see the fruit of success is not being taken by a minority and they are all enjoying the benefits of what they have created, particularly the workers," declared Alojz Peterle as he presented his electoral programme.
Danilo Türk chose to focus his programme on the idea of culture, in the wide sense of the term, on security, identity, environment and foreign policy. "Slovenia is appreciated but is not sufficiently respected in the international arena," stressed the Social Democrat opposition candidate who is promising to support the withdrawal of the State from economic affairs.
On 4th October last the chairman of the parliamentary group of the European Popular Party (EPP/ED) in the European Parliament, Joseph Daul granted his support to the government forces. "Alojz Peterle is someone who has always been loyal. He was a visionary for Slovenia when it was experiencing difficult times. Today he is a visionary for Europe. We know him well in Brussels, notably we know him for his great reliability," he declared.
Alojz Peterle is one of the deputy chairs of the EPP fighting for the attribution of an eighth seat to Slovenia in the European Parliament. This has been planned in the report by MEPs Alain Lamassoure (EPP/ED, FR) and Adrian Severin (PES, RO) adopted on 11th October last.
On 17th September Alojz Peterle, Mitja Gaspari, Danilo Türk and Zmago Jelinic met for a TV debate on TV Slovenia. In the poll undertaken amongst viewers during the programme, Alojz Peterle easily came ahead of his rivals, winning 48% of positive opinions, versus 19% for Danilo Türk, 18% for Mitja Gaspari and 14% for Zmago Jelinic.
According to a poll undertaken by the daily Delo, Alojz Peterle is due to come out of the first round with 28.4% of the vote, followed by Danilo Türk (16.4%), Mitja Gaspari (15.8%) and Zmago Jelincic (12.1%).
Another poll published by the newspaper Dnevnik also forecasts victory for the former Prime Minister with 36.9% of the vote followed this time by Mitja Gaspari (22.7%) and Danilo Türk (20.3%). Support for the latter has declined in the last two polls (-5 points in the one undertaken by Delo and -2 points in the one undertaken by Dnevnik). The two polls show an increase in the number of undecided voters as the first round of the presidential election draws closer: 24.9% for Delo and 39.1% for Dnevnik. 57.4% of those interviewed say they will go to vote on 21st October next.
Although Alojz Peterle's qualification for the 2nd round seems highly likely the position of challenger is still the subject of great debate. The second round, if it takes place, will be on 4th November.