Political crisis grows in Slovenia as no party manages to form majority

Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor

No politician enjoys the necessary support to be elected prime minister, Slovenian President Borut Pahor informed the country’s parliament on July 23. 

Pahor, who has twice nominated Janez Jansa, the leader of the largest party in the parliament, declined this time to nominate anyone for the post, reads his letter sent to parliament speaker Matej Tonin. It will now be up to Jansa and rival politician Marjan Sarec to continue their quest to put together a majority; if neither succeeds Slovenia is likely to face a new round of elections. 

Despite being given the mandate twice since the June 3 general election, Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) leader Jansa both times failed to garner the support of sufficient MPs. 

Even though his SDS took the largest share of the vote, 25%, in the June 3 general election, Jansa still needs the support of smaller parties to form a government. He has said he wants the backing of more than 46 MPs (the minimum needed for a majority) to ensure his government is stable. 

In his July 23 letter to the parliament, Pahor reminded that Jansa had informed him about his inability to gather more than 46 MPs to support his cabinet.

Pahor was also informed by the leader of the second-largest party in the parliament Sarec (who refuses to work with Jansa) that he too hasn’t been able to form a government.

“For the reasons stated, I do not propose to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia a candidate for the prime minister,” Pahor said.

The second round of the nomination procedure is due to begin on July 27. In that round, a candidate for prime minister may be put forward by either the president or groups of MPs over the following two weeks, according to Slovenian Press Agency (STA).

Both Jansa and Sarec are expected to keep trying to secure a majority. It is in Sarec’s interests in particular to avoid fresh elections, mainly because of the apathy among Slovenians. Low turnout doesn’t benefit smaller parties, and thus only Jansa’s SDS can expect better results if the election is repeated.

Instead, political newcomer Sarec is expected to double down on his efforts to become prime minister by securing the support of five small parties.

Currently, he can count on the support of the Social Democrats led by outgoing Minister of Agriculture Dejan Zidan, outgoing Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s Party of Modern Centre (SMC), the Party of Alenka Bratusek (SAB) and Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS). All of them together have 43 MPs and therefore need one more partner with at least three MPs for a government. 

The partner could be Slovenian Left, whose nine MPs would give Sarec enough votes in the parliament for his election. STA speculates he could opt to form a minority government that would enjoy support from the leftwing party in exchange for implementing some of the promises from its election manifesto — an option described by the Slovenian news agency as a Portugal-modelled project partnership.

It’s even harder to see Jansa achieving a majority because thus far he has only his own party’s 36 MPs. On top of that, he can most likely count on support of parties with similar programmes, the conservative New Slovenia (NSi) party (though its leaders have flirted with the idea of joining Sarec’s coalition) and the far-right Slovenian National Party (SNS). 

It is almost impossible to imagine anyone from the centre-left parties currently gathered around Sarec and previously in Cerar’s government in any kind of collaboration with Jansa. However, Jansa claims he is continuing talks.

If neither Jansa nor Sarec nor any other party leader musters an absolute majority in the second round, a third round may follow in which an ordinary majority would be sufficient to name a prime minister-designate. After that, the only alternative would be a fresh election, in which case elections may take place in September or October.