The Progressive Post

🇸🇮 Slovenian governmental parties lose election to right-wing opposition

SLOVENIA

Political scientist, former state secretary for higher education and science of Slovenia
13/06/2024

After a landslide election victory in 2022, the liberal, Social Democrat and left-wing governmental coalition partners in Slovenia suffered a painful defeat by right-wing opposition led by Victor Orban’s ally Janez Janša’s SDS (EPP) party. With one more EPP-party winning one seat, the EPP won five out of nine MEPs in Slovenia.

After two years in power, the European elections were the first electoral test for Slovenia’s liberal Freedom Movement party-led government. The governing Freedom Movement (GS), Social Democrats (SD) and Left Party managed to win only three MEP seats (GS two and SD one) out of nine, losing ground to the right-wing EPP opposition. It was a big night for Janez Janša’s conservative SDS (EPP) party, which won four MEP seats (the most of any party in the history of EU elections in Slovenia). Despite difficulties, the NSi Christian Democrats (EPP) also (just) managed to win one MEP seat. The non-parliamentary green party Vesna came in third with its popular leader, former presidential candidate Vladimir Prebilič, gaining one MEP. 

This time around, the European elections in Slovenia were once again dominated by domestic politics and international issues such as whether Slovenia should recognise the State of Palestine (which it did two weeks before the election). They were also dominated by criticism of the government in power for the past two years, with the opposition pointing to the government’s low approval ratings and unfulfilled promises. Meanwhile, the governing parties tried to present their results and even raised public expectations of the government by making many promises just in time for the elections, such as presenting a draft of a €1 billion housing plan to be undertaken by the government, as well as holding four referenda, with everything from euthanasia to the legalisation of marijuana on the ballot, at the same time as the elections in order to raise turnout.

The Social Democrats (SD) managed to outperform the party’s 2022 general election result but lost one MEP seat compared to the party’s 2019 result. The party held an extraordinary party congress in April and elected a new leadership after the old leadership resigned following a series of media scandals over the party’s mismanagement of a project in one of the ministries controlled by a now-former SD minister, who subsequently also left the party. This brought the party’s public rating to an all-time low just three months before the start of the election campaign. Given the party’s starting position before the election, it was important for the party to retain at least one seat, which would provide a basis for future growth. For the SD, it was very important to maintain its position as a party with an MEP within the PES/S&D. All in all, however, the government parties were unsuccessful and the right-wing opposition managed to make electoral gains on the coalition. 

There were also two big surprises of the night, one being Vesna, which achieved an impressive 10 per cent of the vote on the back of their popular lead candidate. The other was the SLS (EPP), a former traditional party that had been out of parliament for some time, but that managed to garner more than 7 per cent of the vote in the 9 June elections, almost beating NSi. 

In the end, while it is customary for the EPP parties to outperform the centre-left liberals and Social Democrats in European elections in Slovenia, this was the best election night for them in a long time. With the SDS making a strong showing with four MEPs and opposing Ursula von der Leyen for the next Commission President, this is an election that moves Slovenia further to the right of the political spectrum in the EU context.

Photo credits: Shutterstock/Andy.LIU

Find all related publications
Publications
17/06/2024

Separation or divorce? The popular class and social democracy in Poland

01/03/2024

Next Left Vol. 15

Progressive Ambition: How to shape Europe in the next decade
24/01/2024

Progressive Yearbook 2024

Looking back to look ahead
10/10/2023

Next Left country case studies

Exploring the state of Social Democracy in France, Austria, Romania and Australia
Find all related events
Events
Past
11/06/2024
Online

Analytical Conference – Progressive Pollsters Network

The European Elections 2024: the expected, the unexpected and the path forward
29 - 30/04/2024
Madrid, Spain

Triple transition: How to govern and deliver social progress?

Launch of the 15th Next Left Focus Group
03 - 04/05/2024
La Hulpe, Belgium

Training of Trainers first session

Find all related news
News
04/03/2024

FEPS at the PES Election Congress in Rome

19/12/2023

Call for tender – Research project manager

Research within the framework of the project 'Social democracy without people. On the sources of the popularity of authoritarian populism in Poland'
12/12/2023

FEPS Young Academics Network, Cycle 9

Call for new members - Extended until 14 February 2024
23/06/2023

Call for tender – research and project coordination

This call for tender closed on 23/07/2023
Find all related in the media
In the media

Falsely historic European elections bring little change, says FEPS

by Agence Europe 18/06/2024
Agence Europe's article features an analysis of the EU election results by Ania Skrzypek, FEPS Director for Research and Training, published in The Progressive Post.

Durchhalten ist nicht unmöglich

by Frankfurter Hefte 06/12/2023
'Persevering is not impossible' Article by Ania Skrzypek, FEPS Director for Research and Training, on the future of social democracy in Europe

Total honesty and far-right lies

by IPS Journal 04/12/2023
Dive into the insightful analysis published in IPS Journal by Tom Theuns, Assist. Prof at Leiden University, and László Andor, FEPS Secretary General, examining the Dutch election results and the conclusions that need to be drawn for a successful EU Integration

Sluta tro att SD-männen bara skojar om politiken

by AFTONBLADET 30/05/2023
'Stop thinking that the SD men are just joking about politics. When changes happen, they happen at lightning speed' Ania Skrzypek interviewed in this Swedish article about the Polish case