15/10/2012 - Analysis - 1st round
1.7 million Slovenians will be voting on 11th November to appoint the next President of the Republic. If no candidate wins the absolute majority in the first round of voting a second round will be organised on 2nd December. The official campaign started on 12th October and will end on 9th November, on the eve of the election.
For a time Slovenia was the best performer amongst the twelve Member States that entered the EU in the 21st century, but it has been sorely tried by the international crisis notably because of its dependency on foreign capital and exports. The previous government (2008-2011) led by Borut Pahor (Social Democratic Party SD) just like the present one, led by Janez Jansa (Democratic Party, SDS), have both undertaken austerity measures in a bid to revive the economy. The country's rating has been downgraded by the ratings agencies: the banks are struggling; unemployment is affecting 11.7% of the working population (last July's figure) and many analysts believe that Ljubljana might be the sixth European capital to have to resort to international aid. Prime Minister Janez Jansa has spoken of the possibility of a "Greek type scenario
". A poll published by the daily Delo on 24th September last revealed that 42% of the Slovenians think that their country would be forced to resort to international aid.
Slovenia has also been troubled by several scandal: on 5th September last the CEO of one of the country's biggest companies was accused of fraud; former MP Pavel Rupar (SDS) was sentenced in September to one year in prison and a 40,000€ fine for abuse of power when he was mayor of Trzic in 2004; the mayor of Ljubljana and leader of the main opposition party, Positive Slovenia (PS), Zoran Jankovic, has been accused of involvement in a financial scandal with his two sons Jure and Damijan (to a total of 10 million €) regarding the building of the sporting complex in Stozice that was inaugurated in the capital in August 2010. Finally Prime Minister Janez Jansa is being prosecuted for false accusation and defamation in the Patria scandal in which he is suspected of corruption. He is accused of having received around 900,000€ in bribes from Austrian businessman in support of his party during the purchase of 135 armoured vehicles in 2006 (he was Prime Minister at the time) by the Defence Minister to a total of 278 million € from the manufacturer Patria, a company that is owned to a total of 73% by the Finnish State (EADS owns 27% of it). Even the Catholic Church has been affected by several financial and sexual scandals.
The Presidential Office
The head of State is elected in Slovenia by direct universal suffrage and by a majority vote (in two rounds) for a 5 year mandate that is renewable once. The presidential office is mainly honorary. The President of the Republic is the commander of the armed forces, he can intervene if the Drzavni Zbor (National Assembly), the lower chamber of Parliament, is prevented from meeting and he can declare a state of emergency and also mobilise the army. However his decisions have to be ratified by parliament as soon as it can convene again. The Head of State appoints some of the State's high ranking executives and the Ambassadors; he also has the right to pardon.
All candidates running in the presidential have to be aged 18 and have the support of at least 10 MPs or 5,000 voters or of a political party, which has to have the support of 3 MPs and 3000 voters.
Since the country's independence on 25th June 1991, the Presidents of the Republic of Slovenia have all been from the leftwing.
On several occasions some parties have tried – in vain – to extend the office or the means of election of the President of the Republic. Hence, Zares (Real) said that it wanted the Head of State to be allowed to convene by-elections and dissolve parliament; New Slovenia (NSi) suggested that the president of the Republic be elected indirectly by the majority of two-thirds of the Drzavni Zbor.
13 people have expressed their desire run for the presidency. Amongst these only three have made the request official:
– Danilo Türk, 55 years old, the outgoing Head of State who is supported by Positive Slovenia (PS), the country's main opposition party, and the Democratic Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) led by Karl Erjavec;
– Milan Zver, 50 years old, MEP, former Education and Sports Minister (2004-2008), who has the support of the Democratic Party (SDS) led by Prime Minister Janez Jansa and New Slovenia-People's Christian Party (NSi-KLS) led by Ljudmila Novak;
– Borut Pahor, 49 years old, former Prime Minister supported by the Social Democratic Party (SD) and by the Citizens' List (DL) led by Gregor Virant, member of the present government.
Amongst these three candidates Milan Zver is the only one to be standing for the Slovenian vote with the support of other MPs. The other two preferred to seek voter support rather than that of the political parties: Danilo Türk presented 13,000 voters' signatures and Borut Pahor, 4,453.
The presidential candidates have until 17th October to register their official status. The official list of candidates will be published on 26th October next.
The Start of the Presidential Campaign
Outgoing head of State Danilo Türk launched his campaign on 12th October in Ljubljana. He is standing as an independent and is using his achievements as head of State in his support. His rival Milan Zver qualifies him however as "the far left candidate
" because of the support he enjoys from Positive Slovenia. Danilo Türk said that in his opinion the head of State had to be able to provide those who most needed it with the best advice, at present this meant the government. He has chosen the slogan "For the common good
" for his electoral campaign.
On 12th October Milan Zver achieved the support of the chairman of the European People's Party, (EPP), Wilfried Martens. "The Presidential election has to be a time of change. The country needs a head of State who can unite the Slovenians,
" declared Wilfried Martens.
The Democratic Party candidate and that of New Slovenia- Christian People's Party accuses the outgoing President of the Republic of being against the inclusion of the "golden rule" (limit of the country's public deficit) in the Slovenian Constitution, of being against labour market flexibility, the reform of retirement pensions and austerity.
Milan Zver is campaigning under the banner "A president with greater vision
". If he is elected as the head of Slovenia on 11th November or on 2nd December next he would be the first head of State not to be a former member of the Communist Party, a fact which he highlights standing as "the only possible choice for the country to be able to complete its transition.
Borut Pahor is calling for "national unity" to implement "structural reform so that the worst economic crisis since the Second World War can be overcome.
" He compares the present situation with the time when Slovenia became independent again in 1991, "a narrow window of opportunity which we managed to come through by standing together.
" He is standing as the centre-left candidate in order to distinguish himself better from outgoing President Danilo Türk.
According to the most recent poll published by the daily Delo on October 1st Danilo Türk is due to win in the first round of the presidential election on 11th November next with 54% of the vote. He is due to pull ahead of Social Democrat Borut Pahor, who is forecast to win 30% of the vote and MEP Milan Zver, who is forecast to take 13% of the vote. The polls for the second round forecast Danilo Türk as the winner with 52% of the vote ahead of Borut Pahor or with 60% if he faces Milan Zver.
The outgoing President who is the main favourite in the election will certainly remember Alojz Peterle's position during the last presidential campaign on 21st October and 11th November 2007 before he was beaten (68.03%) by Danilo Türk in the 2nd round.