Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor has called the country’s next general election for 24 April. The poll is the first scheduled vote following three snap elections, and has been set for the earliest possible date according to Slovenian law.
Last year, Pahor noted he planned to pick the earliest possible date, and last week said that he considered 24 April the most appropriate date given the current political climate.
“This makes it possible to form a government before the parliamentary summer recess,” he said.
The general election will constitute a reelection campaign for the hard-right Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša. Once considered a national hero after helping lead Slovenia to independence on 25 June 1991, Janša and his Slovenian Democratic (SDS) Party have been accused of repeatedly treading on fundamental civic freedoms; in June 2021, Slovenia was placed on the CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist.
For one, Janša’s administration has publicly attacked actors in civil society, and cut essential funding. Non-government groups working on environmental rights have been particularly affected by the shift.
At the same time, anti-migration and climate skepticism rhetoric have placed SDS as one of the closest allies of Hungary’s own far-right Prime Minister, Viktor Orban. In recent years, the SDS has managed to establish a media network with funding and economic support from entities with links to Orban- a network that has since been used to target journalists and civic actors critical of the Slovenian government.
Meanwhile, a coalition of left-leaning groups have pledged to join forces to oust Janša. A new candidate, businessman Robert Golob, has risen as a tenacious opponent after he was appointed head of the green party.
President Pahor is charged with entrusting the prime ministerial candidate with the task of forming a government once the votes from the general election have been counted. In the past, the leading party was typically given the first opportunity to form a government; in this year’s election, Pahor says he will hand that mandate to whomever receives 46 MP signatures in support of their candidacy for prime minister.
“I realise this is not prescribed, but experience after the 2018 and 2020 elections would indicate there should be a tradition where the required support is demonstrated with MP signatures,” he explained.
Pahor has called for a non-divisive tone in the coming campaign and debates ahead of the general election.
Slovenia is a traditionally moderate country of just two million people. It formed a part of Federal Yugoslavia prior to declaring independence in 1991.