Slovenia presidential elections: The change of favorites: Türk superseded Peterle

08 November 2007

Tags : opinions - Slovenia

The competitors in the runoff presidential election in the Republic of Slovenia which will be held on 11 November 2007 will be Mr. Lojze Peterle and Dr. Danilo Türk, who won 28,73% and 24,47% respectively in the first round with the turnout of 57,67%.


At the runoff election the Republic of Slovenia will opt for its third democratically elected president since the country proclaimed its independence in 1991 Until now this function has been performed by Mr. Milan Kučan (two terms of office) and the incumbent President Janez Drnovšek.

The independent candidate Danilo Türk, who is not a member of any political party, is supported by the Social Democrats (SD), Democratic Party of Retired People of Slovenia (DeSUS) and Zares (Engl. trully, seriously)-new political party, while the Liberal Democracy of Slovenija-LDS has expressed its support to him during the runoff election campaign.

The independent candidate Lojze Peterle, who is a member of New Slovenia Christian People's Party (Nsi), is supported by the members of the present ruling coalition: New Slovenia Christian People's Party (Nsi), Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) and Slovenian People's Party (SLS).


Both Mr. Peterle and Mr. Türk are excellent candidates for the position of the president of the Republic of Slovenia. As expected, Mr. Peterle won the first round, but despite being the announced favourite his victory was not convincing and his results were below the public expectations. Mr. Türks' second place had also been expected, although it was initially uncertain due to very good results achieved by Mitja Gaspari (LDS) who eventually ended third with the difference of 3.717 votes.

Regardless of the calm and tolerant pre-election campaign, the runoff will be marked by a contest between Slovenia's two political poles: the current ruling coalition (SDS, NSi, SLS) on one side and the opposition led by SD as the largest opposition party on the other side. This rivalry between the ruling right political block and the left opposition block will serve as the final test before the upcoming parliamentary election which is to be held in autumn 2008.

Analysts have noted that the presidential elections do not reflect the real political situation in the country but may serve as an indicator showing the attitude and the tendencies of the electorate. The election for the European Parliament (EP) in June 2004, which was marked by the significant success of the former opposition led by SDS (headed by Mr. Janez Janša) and by NSi, served as an introduction to their victory at the parliamentary election which was held in autumn 2004. Analysts therefore suggest that the eventual defeat of Mr. Peterle at the presidential election as the candidate put forward by the ruling coalition might announce the defeat of Janša's SDS at the upcoming parliamentary election. Moreover, previous practice has shown that the government of the presiding EU state usually lost the elections after the presidency.


Analysts believe that Mr. Lojze Peterle would have much better chances to win the presidential election as an independent candidate if he was not supported by the ruling coalition. According to public opinion polls the ruling coalition led by Janša's leading position in the government. There are several reasons for the shrinking popularity of the governing coalition, the main being high inflation and increased costs of living, announced protests of trade unions and pensioners, journalists' petitions against undermining the autonomy of their profession, political recruiting in the economy, greater interference of the Roman Catholic church in the social and political spheres etc. Moreover, the ruling coalition has constantly failed to deal with the strongly internationalised issue of the so called "erased" persons and fully ignored the perfectly clear ruling of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia on this case.

Another drawback is the fact that Mr. Lojze Peterle is an old face in the political scene where he has been present since the end 1980s, which somehow makes him a "worn out" politician. Analysts have noted that the Slovenian political scene is still dominated by the politicians from the period when Slovenia was gaining its independence. Mr. Peterle also lost some of the public favour because he tried to "flatter" all voters. Such practice is impracticable in democratic societies and leads to opposite effects, which happened in his case.

In the final part of the campaign Mr. Peterle made another mistake when he replaced the head of the electoral staff under the pressure of the non-parliamentary local party from Koper, which the public understood as the lack of autonomy in his decision-making and the possibility that as the future president he might be subject to manipulation and pressure.


Mr. Danilo Türk is a new face in the Slovenian political scene who has never participated in any party political life. As a professor of international law, he was initially engaged as the legal expert and expert on human rights, to become later on Slovenia's first ambassador to the United Nations and after that the assistant to then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Analysts believe that Türk's main advantage is actually the fact that he is a new face in the political scene and has not participated in party political life. His victory at the presidential election would certainly represent a refreshment in the political scene and introduce the victory of SD and the present opposition at the upcoming parliamentary election.

It should be noted that the very popular first president of the Republic of Slovenia Mr. Milan Kučan, who refused to publicly announce his preference during the first round, expressed his support to Türk during the second-round campaign. His support to Mr. Türk will certainly affect the voters attitude.


According to public opinion polls, Mr. Türk has taken over the position as the favourite candidate from Mr. Peterle during the runoff election campaign. The polls have shown that Türk would win about two thirds and Peterle one third of votes.

Analysts believe that most votes from the first round given to Mitja Gaspari and other candidates will be redirected to Mr. Türk who will also get a large part of votes which were initially given to Zmago Jelinčič Plemeniti from the Slovenian National Party (SNS). The latter won most votes among the young voters who are disappointed with the government's recent law prohibiting smoking in public places. In the first television confrontation of candidates during the runoff campaign, which was much more interesting than the confrontations during the first round, Mr. Peterle stated that he would aim to achieve appropriate amendments to the law prohibiting smoking.

Peterle has no "reserve" voters for the runoff, but mainly relies on the voters from the first round who belong to the traditional political right and centre-right pole. His chances of winning are very poor, especially due to the support he received from the leading coalition with a tainted reputation.

Another important aspect of the current presidential election is that the elected President will propose the future mandatary. The parliamentary elections are scheduled for next year and the mandatary may be the person who obtains the parliamentary majority and not only the one who wins the elections, which makes the present presidential election all the more important.

The International Institute for Middle-East and Balkan Studies (IFIMES) in Ljubljana, Slovenia, regularly analyses events in the Middle East and the Balkans.



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