Slovenia's larger parties pass local election popularity test

27-10-2006

Slovenia held local elections last weekend with voters selecting mayors and municipal councillors across the country. The election was also seen as a litmus test for the two ruling parties two years after parliamentary elections. Ksenija Samardzija Matul has the story:

Residents of the village Brestovica pri Komnu vote at a polling station. More than 1.6 million Slovenes vote for mayors and city councils on their fourth local elections since 1991, when Slovenia became an independent state, photo: CTKResidents of the village Brestovica pri Komnu vote at a polling station. More than 1.6 million Slovenes vote for mayors and city councils on their fourth local elections since 1991, when Slovenia became an independent state, photo: CTK Slovenia's largest parties are content with the results of Sunday's local elections. Despite mixed results, they have found pluses either in their relative share of the overall vote or the number of mayors across the 210 municipalities. Slovenia's Prime Minister and leader of the Slovenia Democrats (SDS) Janez Jansa told the press a day after the election:

"It seems that the party is the only parliamentary party that has increased its relative share as well as the number of voters, who support it."

Janez Jansa says the SDS is the only party to have gained ground in absolute terms, while the ruling coalition parties strengthened their position overall. The party succeeded with 20 mayors, with an additional 15 entering office with its support. The SDS also has 38 candidates set to enter second-round run-offs due in November.

But Jansa's party is struggling to explain the landslide victory in Ljubljana of the independent candidate and former boss of retailer Mercator, Zoran Jankovic. His group, List of Zoran Jankovic, also took the majority in the local council. Jankovic secured just over 63% of the vote, while his party will control 23 out of 45 seats in the city council. After being elected mayor of the Slovene capital, and knowing that his party will also dominate the city council, Zoran Jankovic expects nothing less than loyalty from all city council members:

"Everyone, who is elected into the city council, regardless of his political party must accept the fact that Ljubljana has voted for my programme and this means a coalition with Ljubljana. Each member of the council will have to work in favour of this programme and Ljubljana. I am convinced that there will be some kind of coexistence among all members of the city council."

Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek casts his ballot at a polling station in Zaplana pri Vrhniki, 20 miles west from Ljubljana, photo: CTKSlovenian President Janez Drnovsek casts his ballot at a polling station in Zaplana pri Vrhniki, 20 miles west from Ljubljana, photo: CTK Zoran Jankovic also believes that harmony between the state and the capital city is of utmost importance for the future. He pointed out that Slovenia and Ljubljana as its capital need to portray a positive picture during Slovenia's stint as EU president in the first half of 2008. His message to all parties who he has accused of holding a smear campaign against him, especially the ruling Slovenian Democrats (SDS), is that they should leave past differences behind them and start working in the interest of the state and Ljubljana.

The opposition left-of-center Liberal Democracts (LDS) suffered heavy losses in the main cities of Ljubljana, Maribor and Koper, but nevertheless is the second-strongest party overall. The opposition Social Democrats are also pleased with their tally, although their candidates were voted out of office in the two biggest cities. In Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, independent Gregor Pivec, who was endorsed by the ruling Slovenian Democrats - SDS, finished first in the first round of the election. He will be joined in the run-off by People's Party candidate Franc Kangler. The second round of mayoral election is scheduled for the 12th of November.

27-10-2006

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