Thursday 18 October 2018

Slovenia lurches to right as anti-migrant party gets most seats

SDS leader Janez Jansa
SDS leader Janez Jansa

Marja Novak

Slovenia's opposition centre-right anti-immigrant party led by a former prime minister has won the most votes - but not enough to rule the country on its own, according to preliminary results in the country's election.

The Slovenia Democratic Party (SDS) of former prime minister Janez Jansa will struggle to pull together a government after its hardline stance on immigration has left it short of potential coalition partners.

Mr Jansa acknowledged any post-election negotiations would be difficult. "We will probably have to wait for some time ... before serious talks on a new government will be possible," he said.

Voters in a number of eastern members of the European Union - notably Hungary and Poland - have turned to parties which oppose the bloc's plans under which countries would accept asylum seekers under a quota system.

The SDS, supported by Hungary's nationalist prime minister Viktor Orban, is firmly opposed to such quotas and says most of the money used to support them should be diverted to the security forces.

"[Our] party puts Slovenia, Slovenians first," said Mr Jansa said after the preliminary results came out, adding that the SDS was ready for coalition talks with all other parliamentary parties.

"We are open for co-operation, Slovenia is facing times which need cooperation," he said.

Mr Jansa, who was prime minister from 2004 to 2008 and from 2012 to 2013, had said he would cut taxes and speed up privatisation.

He spent six months in prison in 2014 after being convicted on bribery charges but was freed after the Constitutional Court ordered a retrial that did not take place because a 10-year time limit expired. Mr Jansa had denied any wrongdoing.

In a highly fragmented ballot, the Adriatic state's 1.7 million-strong electorate was choosing between 25 parties of which nine made it to the parliament.

The result with 99pc of vote counted put the SDS ahead with 25 seats in the 90-seat parliament. A centre-left party, The List of Marjan Sarec (LMS), was in second place with 12.6pc of the vote and 13 seats.

LMS leader Marjan Sarec said he expected to get an opportunity to form a government, as most parties had said before the election that they were unlikely to join an SDS-led government.

"If everyone sticks to what they said before the election, we expect to get a chance to form a government," Mr Sarec said.

The election was called in March after centre-left prime minister Miro Cerar resigned, weeks before his term was due to end.

Irish Independent

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