Just the Facts: Slovenian Presidential Elections 2017

Presidential elections took place in Slovenia over two rounds of voting, with the first taking place on Sunday, 22 October 2017 and the second on Sunday, 12 November.  Nine candidates stood for election, including the incumbent President, Mr Borut Pahor, who was re-elected for a second term in office.

Background

The President of Slovenia is elected every five years, using a two-round system.  If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote in the first round, the two candidates who receive the highest share of the vote advance to the second round run-off three weeks later.  Candidates for the Presidency must meet one of three criteria to run: the support of 10 members of the National Assembly; 5,000 signatures from members of the electorate; the support of one or more political parties and either three members of the National Assembly or 3,000 signatures from members of the electorate.

First Round, 22 October 2017

In December 2016, the incumbent President, Mr Borut Pahor, announced his intention to run for a second term, seeking to be the first Slovenian President since 1997 to obtain this feat.  President Pahor, a former Social Democrat Prime Minister, declared that he would run as an independent candidate.

President Pahor’s use of social media led him to be nicknamed in the press as Slovenia’s “King of Instagram”.  During the campaign, President Pahor walked about 700km across Slovenia to meet with citizens, and documented this journey by posting of photos and videos online.

Widely viewed as President Pahor’s main rival for the post was Marjan Šarec, a former political satirist and current Mayor of Kamnik.  Mr Šarec announced his candidacy in May, and received the backing of his own centre-left party, the Marjan Šarec List.

Seven further candidates contested the first round, including a record number of female candidates.  Romana Tomc MEP ran as the Slovenian Democratic Party candidate.  Ljudmila Novak, leader of the New Slovenia – Christian Democrats, announced her candidacy in August.  The Presidential candidate of the ruling Modern Centre Party was Maja Makovec Brenčič, who vowed to lower the voting age to 16 if elected.  Angelca Likovič ran as the Presidential candidate of the Voice for Children and Families party.  Boris Popovič, the Mayor of Koper, ran with the support of his party, Slovenia Forever.  Andrej Šiško was backed by the United Slovenia party.  Suzana Lara Krause was the Presidential candidate of the People’s Party.

Issues such as the border dispute with Croatia, youth unemployment, the healthcare system and the economy dominated the Presidential campaign.

First Round Results

With over 750,000 votes cast, turnout was 44.2 per cent.  President Pahor, who received 47.2 per cent of the first round vote, and Marjan Šarec, who received 24.8 per cent, received the highest vote shares.  As neither won more than 50 per cent, both went through to contest the Presidential second round run-off.

Table of First Round Results:

Candidate Number of Votes Received Percentage of Vote Share
Mr Borut PAHOR 355,117 47.2
Mr Marjan ŠAREC 186,235 24.8
Ms Romana TOMC 102,925 13.7
Ms Ljudmila NOVAK 54,437 7.2
Mr Andrej ŠIŠKO 16,636 2.2
Mr Boris POPOVIČ 13,559 1.8
Ms Maja MAKOVEC BRENČIČ 13,052 1.7
Ms Suzana Lara KRAUSE 5,885 0.8
Ms Angelca LIKOVIČ  4,418 0.6
TOTAL (Valid Ballots) 752,264 100.00

 (Source: http://volitve.gov.si/vp2017/#/rezultati )

Second Round, 12 November 2017

Sunday marked Slovenia’s sixth Presidential election race since the country gained independence in 1991.

Mr Šarec, whose own Marjan Šarec List party doesn’t have any seats in Parliament, campaigned on the basis that a change of policy was necessary to improve Slovenia’s economy and living standards.  Prior to the second round vote, Mr Šarec gained considerable ground and narrowed President Pahor’s initial lead in the opinion polls.

Second Round Results

Like the first round, the run-off was marked by low voter turnout.  With 41.7 per cent of the 1.7 million eligible voters casting their ballots, it was the lowest voter turnout in a Presidential election since 1992.

President Pahor was re-elected as the President of Slovenia with 353,767 votes amounting to 52.9 per cent of the ballot, achieving a majority in six out of the eight electoral units.  Mr Šarec received 332,335 votes amounting to 47.1 per cent of the ballot.

Reaction

Speaking on the night of his victory, President Pahor said “I will be the President of all [Slovenians], I will connect people, build upon the things we have in common”.  He will be inaugurated on Friday, 22 December.

Responding to the election result, Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, congratulated President Pahor, stating “I have a firm conviction that also thanks to your Presidency, Slovenia will continue to contribute to the development of the EU”.

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