STA, 27 May 2019 - The conservative list of the Democrats (SDS) and People's Party (SLS) won Sunday's EU election in Slovenia ahead of two leftist coalition parties, but the conservative bloc lost some ground overall as voters delivered a mixed message that was neither a rejection of politics-as-usual nor an embrace of populism.
The SDS+SLS list won 26.5% of the vote and three MEPs, the coalition Social Democrats (SD) and Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) got two MEPs each with 18.6% and 15.6%, respectively, with the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) getting 11.1% and one seat.
MEPs Milan Zver, Romana Tomc and Franc Bogovič won re-election on the SDS+SLS slate, and Tanja Fajon was re-elected MEP for the SD. The remaining four will be novices.
Somewhat surprisingly, Milan Brglez, a former speaker of parliament, was elected second MEP from the SD slate thanks to preferential votes.
For the LMŠ, front-runner Irena Joveva and second-placed Klemen Grošelj were elected, while Ljudmila Novak will return to Brussels after ten years as the only deputy for the NSi.
The SDS declared resounding victory, with party leader Janez Janša stressing that this was the result of the only tie-up between two parties in this election, one which could also serve as a model for future ballots.
Speaking about the third election victory for the party in a year, Janša stressed that this was the only list to join forces for this election and deservedly won a plurality of the vote.
The LMŠ counts its performance a success as well, having risked it all by rejecting a joint liberal list with the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB).
Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said the party had succeeded with a platform-based campaign instead of dealing with others. "We're also happy that this campaign proved to be successful for the parties which feel Europe, which do not ostracise."
The SD doubled their number of MEPs as Fajon, who will serve her third term, will be joined by Brglez, a political science professor who served as speaker of parliament in 2014-2018.
"I'm very happy that we've managed to double our seats and that we're going back with two MEPs... I hope we'll be able to form a progressive majority in the European Parliament, allowing us to achieve the changes we want," said Fajon.
The Left and DeSUS were major surprises, winning respectively 6.35% and 5.65% even though both were projected to be much closer to winning a seat and DeSUS having had an MEP in the 2014-2019 term.
But while Left leader Luka Mesec acknowledged the outcome was a disappointment, DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec said the result was not bad.
The other parliamentary parties performed dismally as well. The National Party (SNS) and the SAB were virtually tied at 4.01%. The Modern Centre Party (SMC) was far behind with 1.58%, having been overtaken by two green parties and the far-right Homeland League (DOM).
Overall, the election produced a slight shift as the conservative camp went from having five MEPs to four, with the liberal-left bloc picking up a seat thanks to the SD.
Analyst Andraž Zorko said the SDS was actually the loser of the election despite the overall win, as they will have one MEP less, while the SD may be considered the biggest winner, not only picking up an extra seat but nearly trebling the number of votes compared to five years ago.
The vote also allayed fears about a feared populist surge, as the most hard-line parties barely made a dent.
The populist SNS won a slightly smaller share of the vote than in last year's general election, an indication that it has limited appeal, while the hard-right Homeland League (DOM), which campaigned on a radically anti-immigration platform, got less than 2% of the vote.
Turnout, at 28.3%, was almost four points higher than in 2014 but still well below projections and significantly lower than in the EU on average.
Political analyst Marko Lovec blamed this on parties failing to provide good candidates: instead of fielding good candidates, Slovenian parties used the vote as an opportunity to resolve internal issues.