Janša's SDS in the Lead, But Potential Coalition Partners Wary of Ties to Orban

By , 22 May 2018, 11:53 AM Politics
Orban on the left and Janša on the right, during a recent SDS event Orban on the left and Janša on the right, during a recent SDS event SDS Facebook page

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STA, 22 May 2019 - The opposition Democrats (SDS) have a strong lead in the polls less than two weeks before voting day, but as Monday's debate on POP TV showed, the party will have its work cut out putting together a coalition even if it wins. Some potential partners remain coy, others outright hostile to joining an SDS coalition. 

All our election coverage can be found here, while our profiles of the major parties are here.

The SDS are currently several points ahead of the list of Kamnik Mayor Marjan Šarec and widening their lead, with the Social Democrats (SD) in third.

The latest poll, released by POP TV over the weekend, has SDS at almost 15%, with Šarec dropping below 10% and the SD at 6.5%.

This makes it highly likely that SDS leader Janez Janša would get the first chance to put together a coalition after the election, yet almost all major parties bar one have expressed reservations due in particular to the party's hard line on migrations and close ties with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

SD leader Dejan Židan reiterated his position at the debate that the SDS was "too radical", a point also raised by the Modern Centre Party's (SMC) Miro Cerar, the incumbent prime minister.

Cerar said his party wanted a government with "parties that support a free-thinking Slovenia." "Any radical stance that advocates dangerous populisms and frightens people is not for us."

The Left's Luka Mesec said his party was in favour of a centre-left coalition. "We can't pretend that there are not parties among us that nurture hate speech, exclude others and instigate racism and xenophobia. The Left absolutely cannot talk to such parties," he said in reference to the SDS.

The most natural fit for the SDS would be the centre-right New Slovenia (NSi), which had been in the SDS-led government in 2004-2008 and again in 2012-2013.

Indeed, NSi leader Matej Tonin said his party was not excluding anyone. "Voters may exclude some. But after that the party is obligated to talk [to everyone] for the benefit of the people."

Karl Erjavec, the leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) - a party which had been in both Janša-led governments - meanwhile offered a strong rebuke.

He said he would not enter a coalition with Janša, arguing that time would show he was right to have forged a pre-election pact with Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, who is not running in this election.

He was confident more parties would join his tie-up with Janković because of opposition to the "Hungarian development model."

Šarec, meanwhile, noted that the SDS had not been successful in government, but he stressed that the SD government in 2008-2011 had not performed well either.

This is why he said he should be the one to put together a "development-oriented coalition" with people unencumbered by the past.

"Why would we enter a coalition with Mr. Janša if we can put together a government," Šarec said, noting that this would be the case "if everyone keeps their word."

Šarec did not, however, explicitly rule out joining a coalition with Janša.

Janša responded to the apprehension of his potential partners by saying that his party was not excluding anyone. "There is plenty of exclusion going on in other parties."

He also stressed that everyone should wait until the election. "There is a thing called the post-election Monday. Everything will be different then."

The debate, the first hosted by POP TV, featured the leaders of the parties that polls show are most likely to enter parliament.

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