31 December 2008

EuroCountdown: Slovenia

Number of MEPs now: 7
Likely number of MEPs in 2009: 7

2004 results

Nova Slovenija (New Slovenia) - 102,753 - 2 seats
Liberalna Demokracija Slovenije/Demokratična Stranka Upokojencev Slovenije (Liberal Democracy of Slovenia/Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia) - 95,489 - 2 seats
Slovenska Demokratska Stranka (Slovenian Democratic Party) - 76,945 - 2 seats
Združena Lista Socialnih Demokratov (United List of Social Democrats) - 61,672 - 1 seats
Slovenska Ljudska Stranka (Slovenian People's Party) - 36,662 - 0 seats
Slovenska Nacionalna Stranka (Slovenian National Party) - 21,883 - 0 seats


This is a toughie, for a number of reasons. Firstly, Slovenia had an abysmal turnout in 2004, of just 28.3%, meaning that most of the normal rules don't apply. It's a a question of how well the parties got their vote out (not well at all) and whether or not those voters who did show were given to a protest vote. I'd say the same is likely in 2009.

But New Slovenia won't be the beneficiaries: they've collapsed since 2004, losing all their representation in the Slovenian National Assembly, and suffering a split which neither side gained from: the Christian People's Party. Their combined support was still less than half what NSi got in the 2004 national poll. Frankly, I can't see them hanging on to either of their MEPs.

The LDS won't benefit either. They also suffered a split, and worse for them, the offshoot, Zares (For Real), is more popular than they are if the 2008 election result is anything to go by. So I'd expect Zares to win a seat for the Liberal group, but nothing for the LDS. And their partner in the 2004 Euro Election, DeSUS, might not be working with them either: the LDS has joined the new Social Democrat-led Government while DeSUS worked with the old right-wing government led by the SDS. On that basis, I'm not convinced that the two will work together this time, and the humilating thing for the LDS is that DeSUS overtook them this year and will probably outshine them again next year. Indeed, they could hold on to a seat where the LDS don't. The good news for the Liberals in the European Parliament is that both Zares and DeSUS are centrist and would be likely to stick with them. So there'd still be two Liberals there, just in different parties.

The SDS has just recently gone into opposition, having led the Government until the recent national elections. Nevertheless, they're now largely unchallenged at the top of Slovenia's centre-right, so they'll probably head up rather than down, and will keep their two seats for the EPP.

The Social Democrats, meanwhile, are on an upward vector, having only recently taken office with Borut Pahor forming a Government. The split in the Liberals helped, allowing them to become the largest opposition group before a single vote had been cast, and they becme the largest party in Slovenia this year. I'd imagine them coming top again, and gaining an extra MEP for the Socialist Group.

So that's two Social Democrats, two Democrats, one Zares and one DeSUS predicted. What of the seventh? A third Social Democrat is a possibility, but watch the Slovenian People's Party. They just missed out last time, and their vote dropped slightly in 2008, but the collapse of NSi could send a few extra votes their way, especially if, as they did this year, they run a joint list with the Youth Party of Slovenia. However, there might be an issue here: the Youth Party considers itself to be a Green party, while the SLS is more conservative. It may not work, but if it does, there's a possible MEP in the offing.

More worrying is the Slovene National Party which is still in the National Assembly and took 5% in 2004. They dipped slightly in 2008, but anything is possible in a low-turnout poll. They aren't exactly consensus-builders: they call themselves Tito supporters (eek!), they're anti-Catholic, Roma-hating homophobes (but don't be mean to Slovene minorities elsewhere or they're on your case!). They have a number of territorial beefs with Croatia and want the Croat border closed until they get them sorted. So if any group would have them, they'd be best suited to the ill-fated Identity, Tradition and Sovereignty group which collapsed under the weight of its own bigotry in 2007. So if they do get in - unlikely, but possible - they'll probably end up in the Non-Inscrits.

So in order of probability as I currently see it, this is how I'd see the Slovenian election going:

SD 2, SDS 2, Zares 1, DeSUS 1, SLS 1
SD 3, SDS 2, Zares 1, DeSUS 1
SD 2, SDS 2, Zares 1, DeSUS 1, SNS 1

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