Balkan Tricks Like At Home, Only Worse

Common sense dictates that revisiting European elections and their result is a complete waste of perfectly good blogging space. Had all things been equal, that would be so, However, in the words of Mr. Spock, things are not equal. But more on that in a minute.


Usually, European elections are frowned upon as being only tangentially connected to Slovenian politics (or to politics of any EU member, for that matter), and material evidence seems to support that theory: five years ago, Nova Slovenia (NSi) won despite its marginal standing in parliamentary elections. Results of June 5 elections seem to corroborate this, as NSi got one MEP despite being axed from the national parliament in 2008 elections. Furthermore, both in 2004 and 2009 the turnout was appalingly low, only 28 percent. But if need be, European election can be a bloodbath, which is something Gregor Golobič and his Zares can tell you a lot about.

But first thing’s first – let’s look at the results. Opposition SDS won 26.65 percent of the vote, ruling Social Democrats got 18.45 percent, while Nova Slovenija (NSi) got only slightly less, 16.53 percent. LDS came in fourth with 11.5 percent, while Zares was the last of the parties to get an MEP, with 9.77 percent of the vote. However, in terms of numer of MEP seats won, differences between parties become much less apparent. Both SDS and SD won two seats, while NSI, LDS and Zares won one seat each.

So, the question is, who the hell won? The general media consesus seems to be that SDS scored an overwhelming victory. Given the fact that they beat the largest coalition party and their rivals in public opinion polls by more than eight percent, this certainly seems to be the case. The fact that SD got only 18 percent of the vote (as opposed to getting almost 30 in parliamentary elections nine months ago) only reiterates the feeling.


By that same standard, one could say that the real winner is LDS, which nearly doubled its result from parliamentary elections, when they barely made it past the 4 percent threshold. Furthermore, Gregor Golobič and Zares should be dancing the Mipos Dance of Joy, as they repeated their result from September 2008, despite the copious amounts of flak they were taking due to Golobič’s stumble in the Ultra business. Nine percent after a concentrated media barrage which came from all sides is not to be underestimated. Even less so for LDS, which – not unlike NSi – seemingly made huge gains.

And finally, by the above standard, NSi should be thanking whatever god they believe in, because they were literally brought back from the dead. 16 percent of the vote after they were already down and out.

And it is this last interpretation which casts a shadow of the doubt on the entire approach. How can NSi, which was in turmoil for the better part of the last nine months make a real comeback? And while we’re on that, how can in be that a media lynch of Gregor Golobič has zero (and I mean zilch) effect on his party?

Probably because most of the turnout was by die-hard supporters of their respective parties. Given the low turnout and the capacity of SDS and (partly) NSi to galavinse their base, good results of both parties suddenly don’t seem all that surprising. Namely, a lot of NSi and SDS voters are almost like the Pony Express (neither rain, nor sleet, not snow…), whereas left-wing voters are notoriously undisciplined. But that only goes so far in explaining what really happened. I mean, no-one is forcing right-wing voters to go vote at gunpoint, no matter how appealing that mental image might be :mrgreen:

To answer this second question, let’s take a look at the bigger picture: Combined, the left bloc won almost 40 percent of the vote, whereas the right bloc got 43 percent of the vote, counting only parties which won MEP seets. If, however, we included all the parliamentary parties and kept NSi, for the sake of the argument, both blocs got 46 percent of the vote (keeping the nationalists as a separate category).

Things get even more muddy if we look at number of MEP seats won. By this measure, it was actually the left bloc which won, winning four out of seven seats, whereas the right bloc won the remaining three. Point being that overall relations between left and right have not changed a lot. What has changed, were relations between parties. If election results are to be taken for granted, then we have witnessed a redistribution of votes between parties of the same bloc, rather than pure left-right crossovers.

So, who won? If anything, it was a tie. It would be hard to make an argument that everybody lost, however. With 28 percent turnout, results are hardly representative. By any realistic measure, NSi got a disproportionate percentage of the votes and it would be safe to say that this goes for most of the other parties. With 72 percent of the electorate you can hardly say that the results represent anything but a disenchantment with politics in general as well as reflect a certain cynicism regarding European Union.

But in a final twist of irony, European elections in Slovenia are not yet over. Well… Not in Slovenia exactly. More like in Argentina. Where a lot of ex-pat Slovenians live, none of which apparently got empty ballots to vote by mail. And although Argentina is generally regarded as prime hunting ground for NSi, the vote there could decide whether Romana Jordan Cizelj or Zofija Mazej Kukovič will be the second MEP for Janša’s SDS, while neither NSi nor SDS have a chance of getting an additional MEP, and thus shake up the overall balance of power. Nevertheless, the State Electoral Commission decided that voters in Argentina will be able to vote and sent them. And how come voters in Argentina didn’t get their empty ballots? Simple. Argentinian post never delivered them. The same Balkan tricks, just like at home. Only worse :mrgreen:…

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

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