Slovenia’s incumbent president Danilo Türk is set to take the largest share of votes in his bid to return to office after the country’s presidential election on November 11 2012, but may not get enough to avoid voters having to return for a second round.
Elections in Slovenia can hold surprises, allowing for the previous track record of the electorate. In the previous presidential election five years ago, Türk was said by pollsters to be set for second-round elimination but instead emerged as the victor in the contest for what is mainly a ceremonial head-of-state post.
In December 2011, parliamentary elections in Slovenia brought businessman and Ljubljana mayor Zoran Jankovic’s centre-right Positive Slovenia party to power, a surprise outcome after the conservatives had been the favourites. The first task then was for Jankovic’s new administration to deal with Slovenia’s worsening debt, unemployment and looming recession, a difficult task indeed given that the European Commission’s economic forecast released a few days was gloomy on Slovenia’s immediate economic prospects.
Slovenia, a nation of just more than two million, joined the European Union in the 2004 expansion wave, the first former Yugoslav republic to become a member of the bloc. In 2007, it acceded to the euro, in turn being the first of the 12 most recent members of the EU to do so. Also a member of Nato,Slovenia was a model of European integration for former Yugoslav states, but internally the structure of its economy was shown to be insufficiently reformed and resilient when the global financial crisis came.
Türk’s rivals on November 11 will be former prime minister Borut Pahor of the social democrats and MEP Milan Zver, the nominee of the conservative party ousted in 2011 and seen in polls as most unlikely to be left standing in a second round. While, as noted, the Slovenian president’s role is largely ceremonial, the debate about the country’s troubled economy – which has seen a major downturn since the advent of the crisis in spite of previously having been a small but increasingly dynamic performer in the EU – has dominated the election contest so far.
In television debates, the disputes have been about the optimum method for Slovenia to head towards recovery, although all three candidates see the best solution for the country’s seriously troubled banking sector – bowing under billions of euro in bad loans – being for banks to pass to foreign ownership.
Provisional results of voting in the November 11 presidential election inSlovenia are expected to be out soon after polls close at 6pm GMT.
(Main photo, of Danilo Türk: Vid Gajšek)