May 2022

By Ben Hoffschneider


Slovenia held parliamentary elections on April 24th. The incumbent prime minister, Janez Janša, and his Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) suffered significant losses, receiving only 23.6% of the vote while its coalition partner, New Slovenia-Christian Democrats, received only 7%. The winner in Slovenia’s elections was the “Freedom Movement,” a newly formed political party at the beginning of this year by Slovenian businessman and former State Secretary Robert Golob that carried 34.5% of the vote. Voter turnout was around 70% of the 1.7 million electorate, a significant increase over the previous parliamentary elections’ 52%. This increase was attributed by Slovenian political analyst Miha Kovac to widespread dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Janez Janša and a public desire to avoid sending Slovenia down “the Hungarian path.”

The Freedom Movement’s 34.5% wins them 41 seats in Slovenia’s 90-seat National Assembly. Together with the Social Democratic Party’s 7 seats, and possibly the 5 seats won by the “The Left” party, the Freedom Movement will be able to form a strong left-leaning coalition government. The outgoing government coalition of the SDS and New Slovenia-Christian Democrats will now become the opposition, with 27 and 8 seats respectively. The five parties make up 88 of the 90 seats, with the remaining two being elected by the Italian and Hungarian minority parties.

Following the election, many pro-SDS news outlets published accusations of Russian interference in the elections. In the political analysis leading up to the election, it was expected that Prime Minister Janša would challenge the legitimacy of the elections, however, following preliminary results Janša recognized The Freedom Movement’s victory.

 

 What’s Next?

 

The Freedom Movement support surged by riding the wave of anti-Janša sentiment that had been sweeping through Slovenia for several years, with protests against his leadership growing as the country’s vaccination plan failed and he cut off funding from the public broadcasting service. Throughout the campaign, Robert Golob promised to restore “normalcy,” and left-leaning politicians said that Janša’s reelection would have pushed Slovenia away from the EU and towards growing populist regimes. The Freedom Movement has yet to formally announce their governing coalition, after which they will hold inter-coalition elections for the confirmation of Prime Minister-designee Robert Golob and members of the ministerial cabinet. Golob’s top priorities will be rebuilding Slovenia’s relationship with the EU, as well as addressing environmental and social issues, following up on campaign pledges to improve healthcare and pursue a transition to a greener economy.

 

Prospects of Success

 

The Freedom Movement’s governing coalition will have a strong mandate for change because of their sweeping victory and significant public support. Continued dislike of outgoing Prime Minister Janša will significantly weaken the opposition at the start of the new parliament, clearing the path for Golob/the Freedom Movement’s agenda to progress.