SUN, 06 OCT 1996 20:59:59 GMT
Slovenia Before Parliamentary Elections
AIM Ljubljana, October 3, 1996
Regular parliamentary elections in Slovenia are scheduled for Sunday, November 10, 1996. As it has probably never happened before, very little is known about the outcome of the elections, since according to all investigations and public opinion polls, it is evident that more than one third of citizens of Slovenia are undecided. In other words, just a month before the elections, these people do not know who to vote for, although they wish to vote. On the ther hand, about 15 per cent, and according to some polls even more people, claim that they will not vote, so that it becomes clear that only half of the voters know who to give their votes to.
This is probably very good, since it reminds of similar situations in some well-developed democratic countries, where people are not obsessed by politics. But, this is not quite true either. If one of the greatest experts for investigations of public opinion Dr Niko Tos is to be believed, these people in Slovenia are in fact a large part of the undecided public which is rather left or centre oriented, but dissatisfied with the existing political parties of this orientation. The only classical left party is the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD) headed by Dr Janez Kocijancic, which has in its program all the characteristics of a modern social democratic party, but nevertheless reminds mostly of the former League of Communists, since it had developed from it. The Democratic Party headed by Tone Persak who is also a writer, is of central left orientation, too, and gathers mostly intellectuals. The problem of this party is that it is too small although its popularity has lately started to rise. The ruling, Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) of Dr Janez Drnovsek, is not acceptable for these people due to its at times excessively stressed liberalism of the old type, while the others are disturbed by various economic scandals which some of the prominent party officials are rumoured to be involved in, although for most of them there has been no evidence. But, people say, there is no smoke without fire. Fortunately for the LDS, these suspicious ones are a minority, because according to polls, this party has ensured the largest number of votes.
On the other extreme are parties of right orientation. Only Slovenian Christian Democrats (SKD) of Lojze Peterle participate in the current authorities. Forecasts do not predict such glorious prospects for them as they themselves expect. A few years ago this was the party of the Catholic Church, but now, votes of the believers have split between the Slovenian National Party (SLS) of Marjan Podobnik, and the extremely right Social Democratic Party (SDS) of Janez Jansa. While the SKD gathers Catholic intelligentsia and other Catholics, the SLS mostly consists of ordinary peasants. Jansa's SDS is a curious mixture of insulted intellectuals, lumpenprolatariat and peasants who are mostly by origin from families of collaborationists - White Guards - from the Second World War. Extremist stances of this party are mostly of such a nature that it is difficult to tell whether they are an extreme right or extreme left oriented party. But, these very features are the reason which makes it very difficult for analysts to explain the fact that the SDS has great chances to rank second by the number of votes. However, Jansa's popularity has lately started to decline.
This leads to the conclusion that the left and the centre are in trouble because their voters are not too reliable, since they are people who have high demands and who are critical to activities of these parties, while supporters of the right oriented parties are mostly anti-leftists, but have no other clearly formulated party affiliation. Therefore, it might happen that potential voters of the left and the centre oriented parties will not come to the polls, while none of the right oriented parties can claim with certainty which of them will get the votes of the electors who are not members of any party.
Obviously a month before the elections only a few things are certain. According to the latest public opinion polls, Drnovsek's LDS is in the lead. We will present the results of Ninamedia agency, which is most frequently quoted in the media, since the latest data of the Institute for Public Opinion Investigation, which have before all the elections proved to be the most reliable, have not been published yet. According to the data of Ninamedia, LDS is in the lead with 17.8 per cent, Jansa's SDS follows with 6 per cent, and then there are the ZLSD (Kocijancic) with 4.8 per cent, and SLS with 4.7 per cent, and Peterle's SKD with hardly 3.3 per cent is the fifth. Finally, Persakov's Democratic Party will according to investigations win 2.3 per cent and Jelincic's Slovenian National Party wil win only 1.3 per cent according to forecasts. It should be stressed that according to data collected by Ninamedia, large percentage of 41.3 of pollees does not know who they will vote for, and 17.1 per cent of them will not go to the polls at all. In this investigation, it is impossible to see the influence of some local and specialized small parties. In some parts of Slovenia, there are regional parties which are fighting for local interests, and there is also the example of Desus, party of pensioners, which could also deprive large parties of a considerable number of votes.
Regardless of the extent to which these figures will come true, it is clear that for the new parliament and the new government it will be essential who will rank the second and the third, because who will be the first is already quite clear. Many are guessing who Dr Drnovsek, who will without any doubt be the new mandatary, will pick to be in his government. In quite clearly split Slovenian political space into the left and the right, what is likely to happen is a pragmatic move of a pragmatic prime minister. Connoisseurs mostly tend to believe that Drnovsek will be forced to go into a large coalition which he will probably be forming together with the ZLSD on the left and the SLS on the right. If Jansa really makes as many votes as forecasts say, he too should have a seat in the government. But, this is where the problem arises because of animosity against Jansa among the LDS. Some significant officials from among the former youth organization will never allow Drnovsek to do it, well-informed sources claim. But, on the other hand, Jansa has already been a minister in Drnovsek's government, and the Prime Minister started the procedure against him in the parliament only after he had exceeded all limits and, as minister of defence, seized competences of civilian authorities. Drnovsek has so far operated quite well with the SKD, so it is highly probable that they too can be chosen to participate in the government, because it is a moderate and not an extreme right party. Therefore, the government could turn more to the right, so some people expect that Persak's democrats might also participate in the government.
Everything is still completely in the dark, but that is what the elections are for. Because, there is no democracy where everything is known in advance. And Slovenia has come out of that phase a long time ago.
Janja Klasinc, AIM