The second round of Slovene presidential elections will be held on Sunday and yesterday saw a first head-to-head debate between Lojze Peterle, winner of the first round and runner-up Danilo Türk. The former is supported by Social Democrats, Zares and DeSUS, while Lojze Peterle enjoys support of the ruling right-wing coalition (save DeSUS, which is actually left-wing, but we won’t go there today).
Who will be the king of Sloveve hearts? (photojob by pengovsky, animation by dr.filomena)
According to the law, last polls can be conducted a week before election day and those published on Saturday (and some published on Monday in a clear breach of the said law) showed a not-so-surprising, but nevertheless dramatic turning of tables. Namely: Danilo Türk who only barely made it to the second round, defeating Mitja Gaspari by a fraction of a percentage point, now has an enourmous lead over Peterle. While the latter is supported by some 30 percent of those polled, Türk enjoys a hefty 60 percent support.
Some are surprised, but needn’t be. Although I didn’t cover presidential elections on this blog, I always maintained that Peterle’s only chance of becoming president is winning in the first round. If it comes to the second round (as it did), Peterle stands virtually no chance at all. While he lead a marvelous campaing throughout the year, Peterle fumbled it at the end, when apparently Mitja Gaspari and Danilo Türk (with a little help from the incompetent government) mobilized enough support to chip off a huge chunk of support from Peterle. I’m not saying that these votes transferred directly to them (most likely they went to fourth-placed Zmago Jelinčič of Nationalist Party), but point is that Peterle didn’t get those votes which most likely cost him an entire election.
Because he was deemed a favourite (and failed to deliver), Peterle is now on the run, and conesquently he panicked. He changed his campaign manager Marko Pogorevc and took charge of the campaign personally. Which is of course a clear sign that he’s in deep shit. He also announced that his rhetoric will be much more resolute than in the first round, which means that he admits to making a mistake in the final stages of the campaing. But he’s making an even bigger mistake now, because yesterday he came of as a sort of a bully, jumping and snapping at Danilo Türk.
The main difference between the two candidates (besides their basic political outlook) is the fact that Peterle was always thought of as the “more presidential” of the two and has failed to deliver. Danilo Türk, however, was always considered as a “replacement candidate”, when Borut Pahor of the Social Democrats finally decided to challenge Janez Janša for the more powerful post of Prime Minster. Türk, however, thusfar delivered (contrary to many expectations, including my own) and opinion polls clearly reflect that.
I don’t think I need to explain who or why is my favourite (take a close look at this blog, if you can’t figure it out ;)), so let me just make an electoral prediction:
The way things stand now, Danilo Türk will become the next president with a majority of 55% percent of the vote. Peterle will make a run for it. It will be a valiant effort but it will be too little too late.