Slovenia elects new leader amid social tensions



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Monday 3 December 2012

Last update 3 December 2012 7:07 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

LJUBLJANA: Slovenians voted yesterday in a presidential run-off with opinion polls favoring former premier Borut Pahor, despite his support for government austerity plans that have brought thousands of protesters on to the streets.
Pahor, 49, pulled off an upset in the first round on Nov. 11 when he won almost 40 percent of the vote ahead of incumbent President Danilo Turk, 60, with almost 36 percent.
On Sunday, he was expected to win just 60 percent ahead of 40 percent for Turk, according to latest opinion polls published Friday.
Pahor, who is backed by the center left opposition Social Democrats (SD), appeared to have won voters over by admitting that some of his decisions as prime minister were wrong.
Having been ousted after a no-confidence vote in 2011, he has capitalized on his image as a good-looking, relaxed, people’s politician with a US-style campaign for the post of president, a largely ceremonial role.
Turk, who is running as an independent candidate with the backing of the largest center left opposition party, Positive Slovenija (PS), lost most of the candidates’ televised debates, according to commentators.
Analysts said however the results could be impacted by a wave of protests against austerity measures introduced by the center-right government of Prime Minister Janez Jansa aimed at cutting the public deficit this year to 3.5 percent of GDP.
Slovenia, once seen as a star new member of the European Union, is suffering one of the deepest recessions in the eurozone, while problems with its banks have raised fears it may need a bailout.
While Pahor has defended Jansa’s unpopular austerity policies — which include public sector wage reductions and social welfare cuts — Turk’s position has been more in line with the public mood.
“Turk’s victory would be a big surprise... but he still has some chances,” Vlado Miheljak, a political specialist at Ljubljana University, said, adding that he might be able to “ride the wave” of social dissatisfaction.
“People do not want their president to be excessively soft, they want somebody who can point his finger at the government.”
A week after the first-round vote, 30,000 people attended a rally in Ljubljana called by Slovenia’s main unions to protest at the austerity cuts, and several other demonstrations have followed.
On Friday, police in Ljubljana used tear gas and water cannon against demonstrators and detained over 30 people after violence erupted at the end of a largely peaceful rally.
“The government should listen to protesters, it should not try to intimidate them,” Turk said as he voted yesterday.
“This government has been unsuccessful, it is arrogant, and it should make big changes.


“The government has a recession much deeper than they had forecast, it is producing very bad results and it should know that it is responsible for such a situation.” Turk said Sunday he was optimistic of his chances after opinion polls showed him closing the gap on Pahor.
While the Slovenian president has little power, analysts say the prime minister would benefit from collaborating with the head of state — particularly if the opposition and unions succeed in calling referendums to try to prevent the implementation of new austerity or reform measures.
And Pahor would be more effective in “bridging the gap” between government and opposition to lead Slovenia out of the crisis, according to analyst Matevz Tomsic from the Nova Gorica School of Advanced Social Studies faculty.
Pahor said at a candidate debate that there was no other option than belt-tightening.
“We should not lose any more time speculating about possible alternatives,” he said. “We should collaborate without further delaying the important decisions the government has to take.” Some 1.7 million Slovenians are eligible to vote. Polls close at 1800 GMT, with initial results expected later in the evening.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The $22-billion Riyadh Metro project is going on according to the plan despite the fact that many global projects are faltering.“There are many stalled projects all over the world and not in the Kingdom alone, but the metro project in the Sau...
JEDDAH: Four members of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) were stabbed by a youth who was allegedly trying to blackmail a girl in Jeddah. The incident happened on Tuesday night and the four officers, who sus...
RIYADH: A recent report released by the Ministry of Labor revealed that the number of violations registered on the ministry’s electronic program “Together for Monitoring” in the months of December 2015 and January 2016 amounted to 484, of which 157 w...
RIYADH: Health Minister Khalid Al-Falih visited the medical complex in Thuwal, near Jeddah, on Tuesday. The facility was set up by Saudi Aramco, whose chairman is the health minister himself.According to the minister, the complex provides primary hea...
JEDDAH: A number of Shoura Council members have voiced objections to some imams who express their personal opinions during Friday sermons.The members asked the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to supervise the sermons to make sure they were written by spe...
MADINAH: Street vendors near the Prophet’s Mosque pose a risk to the country’s reputation and economy besides blocking the way of service cars, Red Crescent and Civil Defense vehicles, an expert has said.Ninety-eight percent of these street merchants...
RIYADH: Appropriate action has been taken against the Haia members who were involved in beating up a girl opposite the Nakheel shopping mall here recently, but the girl was also at fault, a Haia official has clarified.“A probe has revealed that the g...
I am from the east of France but moved to Saudi Arabia from Paris in 1990. I worked for a princess as a French language tutor. I was young and single. I thought it was very exotic and mysterious. I lived in a palace. I left Saudi Arabia in 1992 and c...
JEDDAH: The Pakistan Repatriation Council (PRC) held a symposium on Kashmir and the obligation of Muslim world toward Kashmiris.It was presided by Ali Al-Ghamdi, a former Saudi diplomat. Other guests and speakers at the event were Shahid Nayeem, pres...
DAMMAM: A total of 627 kidney transplant surgeries were performed in the Kingdom last year, bringing the number of kidney transplants, performed since the beginning of the organ donation program, to 9,000 surgeries, said Dr. Faisal Shaheen, director...
ABHA: Saudi women spend more on cosmetics compared to women in the West, the Arab world and even in the Gulf, economic studies show.Recent statistics issued by the Saudi Customs suggest the amount of imported cosmetics in the past year exceeded SR2.3...
RIYADH: A study is under way to provide health insurance to Umrah pilgrims and domestic workers and certain articles of the health regulations needs to be amended, an official has said.According to local media, the statement was made by Mohammed bin...
JEDDAH: The government last year helped over 2,000 children overcome circumstances that forced them to beg or work illegally. The number of children who got help to overcome was 2,039 last year, of which the proportion of the Saudi children was 16 pe...
RIYADH: The number of visitors to the United Kingdom from Saudi Arabia has been steadily increasing from 89,000 in 2009 to 144,000 in 2014.This was revealed at a presentation made to mark the launch of “Visit Britain” program in Riyadh on Wednesday....
NAJRAN: Three members of the Saudi National Guard died in Rabuah, Najran, on Wednesday.National Guard spokesman Maj. Mohammed Omari identified them as Lt. Faisal bin Abdullah Al-Shehri, Lt. Faisal bin Talal Al-Toub and Lt. Saud bin Khaled Al-Rukhayye...

Stay Connected

Facebook