The Early National Elections in Slovenia

Slovenian citizens went to the polls to elect their representatives in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, after the President of the Republic, Danilo Türk, had signed an order dissolving the Assembly on 21 October 2011. The Republic’s first snap elections were called after a vote of no confidence on 20 September had brought down the left-wing government led by Borut Pahor (Social Democrats). The main reason for this vote, apart from scattered corruption cases throughout the main government parties, was that a lack of coordination, both among the member parties and with opposition parties and other social partners, had rendered the governing coalition unable to advance much needed reforms, and naturally fuelled public resentment.

Several long-term implications may arise from the election results and post-festum reactions. First, the balance of power on the left side of the ideological continuum has been completely reorganized, since the formerly dominant LDS has dropped out of the parliament, along with Zares, and given way to Janković’s new dominance, shared with the significantly weakened SD. Second, although ostensibly from the center,[4] Virant has proved to be a new force challenging the dominance of Janša’s SDS on the right wing. Third, despite introducing two significant new political actors into the field, the new National Assembly leaves the balance of power between the poles virtually unchanged, and keeps up the usual shenanigans that form part of Slovenia’s political folklore. However, probably the most profound result of the elections is the rise of nationalism that was triggered by an anonymous author on the SDS’s official website. The writer accused Janković of coercing the immigrant population to vote for him by allegedly spreading the belief that a right-wing victory would cost them their citizenship (Siol, 2011). Janković, the son of a Serb father and a Slovenian mother who has lived in Slovenia from early childhood, gained significant support from the immigrant population, which the anonymous author called “voters in sweat suits”. The publication of this “analysis” divided the population and spurred some protests, but nevertheless highlighted the xenophobic and ethnic nationalist tendencies smoldering in parts of Slovenian society, including the political elite (see Deželan, 2011). In a word, the elections that were supposed to close the chapter of stalemate and failed political management during the economic crisis have opened a new chapter in the country’s shameful history of ethnic nationalism.

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