Hung Parliament Has Nine Parties, Complicating Coalition Building (Background)

By , 04 Jun 2018, 08:44 AM Politics
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STA, 4 June 2018 - Sunday's general election in Slovenia brought a clear win for the right-wing Democrats (SDS) along with a substantial fragmentation of the political landscape that heralds major coalition-building problems. Turnout after 99.7% of the votes counted is at 51.9%, 0.2 percentage points above the record low of 2014. 

Read about the political system in Slovenia here

As many as nine parties, including the far-right National Party (SNS) with 4.2%, have made it to the National Assembly, up from seven in the current parliament.

While such fragmentation is enough to cause headaches when trying to build coalitions, things are additionally complicated as most parties have been rejecting cooperation with the SDS, which has been pursuing a nativist agenda of the type advocated by Viktor Orban in Hungary and Donald Trump in the US.

The SDS, the largest opposition party in the last term, got 25% of the vote, which gives it 25 MPs in the 90-member National Assembly with a few thousand votes from abroad remaining to be counted.

LMŠ, the arguably centrist party of Kamnik Mayor Marjan Šarec who became the surprising runner-up in last year's presidential election, got 12.7% of the vote and 13 MPs.

Following the LMŠ are the SocDems with 9.9% (10 MPs), the currently ruling Modern Centre Party (SMC) with 9.7% (10 MPs), the Left with 9.2% (9 MPs), and New Slovenia (NSi) with 7.1% (7 MPs).

The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) got 5.1% (5 MPs), the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) are surprisingly low with 4.9% (5 MPs), while the SNS seems to be returning to parliament with 4.2% (4 MPs). Two more seats are secured for MPs representing the Italian and Hungarian minorities.

The scenario of an SDS-led government would very likely see a coalition with the centre-right NSi and possibly even the SNS.

SDS leader Janez Janša, who is the epitome of the ideological divide in the country, would however need to win over another party with at least 9 or 10 MPs for a majority.

"The SDS is open for cooperation," Janša commented on the results, calling on all parliamentary parties to visit them and bring their election platforms along so that they could talk concrete cooperation.

He pledged for an SDS-led government to aspire for a Slovenia that will be a homeland for everyone. "A Slovenia that will be safe. A Slovenia where there is order in public services and where equal conditions apply to everyone."

In theory, the six centrist of left-leaning parties that have made it to parliament could have an easier time forming a government, which could conceivably be led by Šarec.

The runner-up repeated today that a coalition with Janša was not an option. Wishing Janša "good luck with forming a coalition", Šarec said he expects the LMŠ will be the one putting together the coalition if everyone sticks to the statements made before the election.

A centrist or left-leaning coalition would require either six or five parties. The first option would include the NSi and also require both DeSUS and SAB. Notably, neither DeSUS leader and Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec nor SAB leader Alenka Bratušek government have made it to parliament.

The second scenario could do without either SAB of DeSUS, it would however need the Left, Slovenia's version of Greece's Syriza.

The Left's Luka Mesec announced the party was ready for coalition talks "with centrist parties, but about a left government". He announced tough negotiations.

Meanwhile, the election result prompted the resignation of Marko Zidanšek as the president of the People's Party (SLS), which got 2.6% in another failed parliamentary comeback attempt.

NSi head Matej Tonin also offered his resignation, but the NSi has in fact substantially improved its result, which indicates the party's relatively new leader may only be looking to consolidate his position.

Reactions to the results have mostly been highlighting the coalition building problems ahead.

Political analyst Alem Maksuti said that irrespective of who will first get the chance to form a coalition, securing 46 MPs and forming a government will be a long and arduous process.

Maksuti sees the SNS as the only real surprise of the election, arguing the National Party's return to parliament is the result of the "dominant discourse in Slovenian politics and the disappointment of voters, who are looking for old new faces".

Economists were not surprised by the results either and seem to see no cause for concern. In the opinion of senior economist at Alta Group Sašo Stanovnik "the election is not likely to affect the economy or capital markets", since "the situation in the economy depends on the situation in Europe and the world, which is good at the moment."

Read about the political system in Slovenia here

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