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Danilo Tuerk, Slovenia’s next president. [source]
Yesterday, during an important drinking holiday, Slovenes went to the polls and overwhelmingly voted for former UN diplomat Danilo Tuerk to serve as the country’s next president. The post of president is largely ceremonial in Slovenia, but the race was seen as providing some hints about how next year’s parliamentary elections might go.
And what was the hint? That the current government is in serious trouble. According to unofficial results, Tuerk (who had the backing of the opposition parties) took 70% of the vote.
I’ve always found Slovenian elections to be mysterious; this one was no exception. I’m especially confused by lopsided results like this one. It’s worth pointing out that the country has been chugging along steadily since independence. The economy is growing, people are prospering, and Slovenia is regularly singled out internationally as a post-socialist wunderkind. But still the public seems to suddenly and inexplicably turn on its ruling party with a fierce vengeance that can only be described as surprising.
When I first came here, the LDS was the party in charge. They basically helped steer the country to EU and NATO membership; they even got the economy Euro-ready. These were no small feats — and they were rewarded with such an intense thrashing in the previous election that they virtually don’t exist anymore. They’re currently a splintered party on the sidelines, while the socialists look set to take over next year.
Indeed, the same destiny seems to be waiting for the current government. Obviously opinions vary on its performance, but as a whole the country is prospering and racking up high-profile successes abroad: the EU presidency next year, for example. But opinion polls (and Tuerk’s landslide victory) augur hard times ahead for the center-right.
I’d hate to see what would happen to a Slovenian government during a recession, or God forbid, a depression. Judging by how hard voters treat governments now, I’m guessing there would be rioting involved…
Congratulations to the president-elect!
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