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Slovenia - Election 2018 - National Assembly

Slovenia voted for a new parliament on 03 June 2018, with right-wing leader Janez Jansa hoping to return to the prime ministerial post he lost in 2013. Slovenia's election handed a lead to conservative Janez Jansa and his anti-immigrant SDS party, but not enough to rule alone, according to initial results. Second-placed is comedian-turned-politician Marjan Sarec. Jansa's center-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) was on just over 25 percent, with more than 80 percent of votes counted, according to the State Election Commission.

Jansa's career stretches back to moves for Slovenian independence within former Yugoslavia. He served twice as Slovenian prime minister from 2004 until 2008 and again from 2012 to 2013. In 2014, he campaigned from jail while serving time on graft charges that were later overturned by Slovenia's constitutional court in 2015.

Second-placed in Slovenia's initial result was the "anti-system" LMS party of comedian-turned-politician of Marjan Sarec on 12.7 percent. The official incomplete results also showed the centre-left Social Democrats in third place on 10 percent. They were followed by the SMC party of outgoing prime minister Miro Cerar on 9.5 percent and the left-wing Levica party with 9.0 percent. Nine of 25 parties contesting Sunday's election appeared set to make it into parliament.

Parliamentary elections were to be held in Slovenia by July 2018, although they may be held earlier if the government called for early elections, which it did. The latest polls show his Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) pulling ahead of the group led by his main rival, Marjan Sarec, a former satirist and stand-up comedian. With more than 20 political factions vying for power in the small Alpine country with a population of just 2 million, the outcome of the race is far from certain.

Miro Cerar's rise surprised many political veterans in Slovenia. Only six weeks after he founded his party, originally named simply the Party of Mirko Cerar, the constitutional law professor won 35 percent of the vote in 2014 and eventually reached the most powerful office in the country. Cerar's centrist government also managed to navigate a rather successful economic recovery in the formerly socialist state. Cerar was ultimately forced to call a snap vote after the Supreme Court shot down his 1 billion project to link the Italian border city of Divaca with the Slovenian seaport Luka Koper. PM Miro Cerar resigned 14 March 2018 over the court ruling against a key railway project. Despite his hopes for securing another mandate, he was projected to win less than 9 percent of the vote.

A Delo opinion poll in October 2017 said the refugee-friendly SD party was the most popular with 16.4 percent support, followed by the refugee-hostile SDS on 15 percent, and Cerar's SMC on 11.9 percent. Erjavec's DeSUS party got 5.5 percent.

Parliament is made up of a single-chamber National Assembly, which has 90 members, elected on a party basis for a four-year term. The National Assembly is the highest legislative body in Slovenia. The Italian and Hungarian minorities each have one seat.

The National Council represents the interests of socio-economic and professional circles and those of local authorities. It has 40 members elected for a five-year term; they give opinions on draft legislation examined by the National Assembly, initiate debates on bills before they are promulgated, and forward requests to parliamentary commissions to launch inquiries.

The elections at which the voters choose their representatives are a prerequisite for the democratic formation of the most important state bodies. The electoral system specifies who has the right to vote, how the elections are organised, how the seats are allocated, how the protection of the voting right is ensured, etc.

In Slovenia, the proportional electoral system is prescribed for the election of deputies to the National Assembly. Under this system, the seats are allocated proportionally to the amount of public support received by individual candidates or lists.

The Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia established a four-percent threshold for the election to the National Assembly. The lists that do not obtain at least four percent of votes at the state level are not included in the allocation of deputy seats. Elections to other state bodies are performed under electoral systems governed by the Constitution and the laws.

Elections are held in constituencies into which the entire electoral area is divided before the elections. The law establishes that constituencies are formed in such manner that each is guaranteed an equal number of seats according to the number of inhabitants.

For the elections to the National Assembly, there are eight constituencies, each having eleven electoral districts. For the election of deputies of the Italian or Hungarian national communities, special constituencies are formed in those areas in which these communities reside.

The 59-year-old Janez Jansa, a hard-liner, Orban ally, was forced out of office in 2013 following accusations of corruption. International media reported that Jansa was taking bribes to set up a purchase of armored personnel carriers from Finland during his first stint as prime minister, between 2004 and 2008. Jansa was eventually convicted and sentenced to two years, but only served six months before the verdict was dismissed. A retrial, ordered by the Constitutional Court, never took place, and the charges expired.

During the campaign, Jansa focused on stirring fears of immigration and attacking the "communists" and the "degenerated left." SDS billboards in cities proclaim that every person in the country illegally costs the state coffers 1,963 ($2,290) per month. His political opponents say his math is false. Many observers compare his campaign style to that of Viktor Orban. Jansa himself repeatedly praised the Hungarian strongman 's policies and invited him to speak at a SDS rally in May. Addressing Jansa's supporters, Orban said their victory would "guarantee the survival of the Slovenian nation." Nearly all other major parties have announced that they would not enter a coalition with him.

The 40-year-old Marjan Sarec, a comedian and likely kingmaker, first became known as a stand-up comedian, actor and satirist before entering the political arena. Since winning the mayoral post in the town of Kamnik in 2010, he built up a reputation as an anti-establishment candidate, but has also cultivated an image of a religious family man. He is often criticized for the lack of a clear political program. Sarec recently told the AFP news agency that he had "many things in common with [French President Emmanuel] Macron's position, a sensible, centrist orientation." During the campaign, Sarec denounced Jansa's anti-immigrant stance and links to Orban.

Several other parties were also projected to top the 4 percent threshold and win seats in the parliament. The strongest among them are the Social Democrats, junior partners in Cerar's coalition, currently at 12.5 percent support. The party is led by Deputy Prime Minister Dejan Zidan, who is also the agriculture minister in Cerar's caretaker cabinet. Zidan faced competition from the Left party and the pensioners' DeSUS party for the left-of-center voters. On the right, Slovenia's euroskeptic and anti-migrant National Party is also likely to win seats. The National Party has signaled its willingness to enter a coalition with Jansa.

Despite the hectic campaign, the contenders had largely failed to impress the voters, with forecasters predicting a turnout of well under 50 percent. Ultimately, Slovenians might choose their next prime minister spur of the moment: Nearly 21 percent of the voters were undecided just days ahead of the election.

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