EU heading for a breakup? Slovenia, another Euro member, heads for turmoil after nationalist victory

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Published: June 4, 2018 4:14:27 PM

Nationalists won Slovenia’s general elections, setting another euro-area nation on course for political deadlock as rival parties united in condemnation of their anti-refugee rhetoric and vowed to block them from government.

EU, Euro member, Slovenia, Hungary, europe m europe union, Janez Jansa, Italy,Slovenia general electionsFormer Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party, whose campaign echoed the one that lifted nationalists to power in neighboring Italy, won a quarter of Sunday’s vote. (Reuters)

Nationalists won Slovenia’s general elections, setting another euro-area nation on course for political deadlock as rival parties united in condemnation of their anti-refugee rhetoric and vowed to block them from government. Former Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party, whose campaign echoed the one that lifted nationalists to power in neighboring Italy, won a quarter of Sunday’s vote. In second place was the List of Marjan Sarec, a comic-turned-mayor who derided Jansa’s anti-refugee rhetoric as “scaremongering.” Joined by most other parties of the record nine that won seats in parliament, Sarec has vowed to thwart him from a third term.

Three of Slovenia’s neighbors in Italy, Austria and Hungary have gone for anti-immigrant populist parties that are challenging the European Union’s mainstream. Jansa, though, may be contained as parties advocating middle-of-the road politics have a chance to keep him out of power in the ex-Yugoslav nation that was eastern Europe’s first to adopt the euro. “If everyone stays true to their word, we are counting on getting a chance to form a government,” Sarec told POP TV after balloting stations closed Sunday.

President Borut Pahor has said he’ll give the first coalition mandate to the “relative winner.” Jansa, who campaigned alongside Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and praised his neighbor’s goal of creating an “illiberal democracy” that has put him on a collision course with the EU, may try to lure detractors into a cabinet.

Motley Coalition

The coalition-building process may begin around June 15 when Pahor will call the first session of parliament, his spokeswoman Spela Vovk said by phone. A premier designate may be named in late July, and in a best-case scenario, a government could be in place by mid-August, she said.

The motley group of partners may make any dramatic policy changes impossible in a fragile coalition that may soon collapse. Also, Sarec’s political experience is limited to an unsuccessful presidential bid last year and being the mayor of Kamnik, a city of 14,000 people just outside the capital Ljubljana. “Sarec, with no political experience on the national level, would really have a hard time putting together a left-leaning government,” said Zarko Puhovski, a professor at the University of Zagreb. “And even if he does, it would last only a couple of months because of his inexperience.”

SDS won 25 percent, according to official results with almost 100 percent counted, followed by Sarec’s List with 13 percent. The next six parties had 46 percent combined, pointing to the need for a broad coalition to muster a majority in the 90-seat parliament. Turnout was 52 percent, almost the same as four years ago.

Victory in Vain

Jansa’s last government collapsed in 2013 in scandal and he served six months for a bribery conviction that was later overturned. He said he was open to cooperation with other parties but stopped short of saying he intended to lead the next administration. “It’s a victory in vain for Jansa,” Otilia Dhand, a political analyst for Teneo Intelligence, said by phone. “As for Sarec and his coalition building effort, it will be a nightmare.”

Investors have warmed to Slovenia since 2013, when it suffered the second plunge of a double-dip recession and enacted a 3.2 billion euro ($3.7 billion) banking rescue to avoid a Greece-style bailout. The yield on the country’s 10-year government bond stood at 1.172 percent on Monday morning, from more than 6.8 percent half a decade ago. The next administration now faces important economic decisions, starting with the sale of the former Yugoslav republic’s largest lender, Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d., which has been postponed by successive governments that have dragged their feet in disposing of state assets.

The new formation will also pick the next governor of the Slovenian central bank after Bostjan Jazbec left in April for another job, weakening the country’s voice on the European Central Bank’s Governing Council.

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