In several European Union member states, the European Parliament elections this month are seen as a test of electoral strength before national elections later this year – but nowhere more poignantly than in Slovenia, which found itself without a government half-way through the campaign period.
The resignation of prime minister Alenka Bratusek earlier in May, only a week after losing the leadership of her party Positive Slovenia (PS), marked the end of the 13-month coalition government and has thrown the country’s political scene into turmoil.
New PS leader Zoran Jankovic, the mayor of capital city Ljubljana and the party’s founder, has been embroiled in a number of corruption rows – the main reason why the party was unable to attract enough partners to form a government coalition when it won the elections in 2011.
(Bratusek was elected party leader in January 2013, when Jankovic stepped down as party leader, and became prime minister a month and a half later, following another corruption row – this time involving then-prime minister Janez Janša, from the centre-right party SDS.)
A date for early elections is yet to be set, with the month of July looking as the earliest possible time frame, although some parties outside parliament opposed the prospect because this is the period when many Slovenians take their annual summer holiday. Procedurally, the election could be delayed until September, when Slovenia is scheduled to hold local elections.
Bratusek’s government fought hard to prevent an international bailout of the state-controlled banks, but that came at a cost – increased taxes and higher foreign government debt. Although successful, the recapitalisation of the banks has had a negative impact on the polling numbers of the parties in the ruling coalition.
SDS and the centre-right coalition between the People’s Party and New Slovenia lead the opinion polls, with the Social Democrats as the only party in the ruling coalition that has a chance to win one of Slovenia’s eight MEP seats at stake in the May 25 election (PS appears set to fall short of the election threshold). New party Verjamem, fronted by former court of audit chief Igor Šoltes, also looks set to win enough votes for a seat in European Parliament.
(Photo of Ljubljana by: Husond)