The opposition anti-immigrant Centre-right SDS (Slovenian Democratic Party) emerged victorious in the Slovenian general election on Sunday.
With 99.9 percent of the votes counted, SDS topped the poll on 25 percent, likely giving the anti-immigrant party 25 seats in the parliament. Center-left LMŠ, led by comedian and political satirist Marjan Šarec, came in second on 12.7 percent and 13 seats, and the Social Democrats third on just under 10 percent of the vote, winning 10 seats.
SDS leader Janez Janša acknowledged his party will face an up-hill battle attempting to form a governing coalition.
“We will probably have to wait for some time … before serious talks on a new government will be possible,” he told reporters after voting on Sunday.
Sunday’s election came a week earlier than scheduled, after Prime Minister Miro Cerar of the Modern Center Party (SMC) quit due to a referendum defeat on a railway project and worsening relations with his coalition partners. The SMC came in fourth on Sunday, with 9.75 percent of the vote and a likely 10 seats in parliament.
Janša, a liberal dissident under communism and a two-time former prime minister, transformed himself into an anti-immigration conservative, modeling his campaign on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s political playbook.
“[Our] party puts Slovenia, Slovenians first,” Jansa said after preliminary results were released, and pledged to hold talks with any potential coalition partners from other parliamentary parties. “We are open for cooperation, Slovenia is facing times which need cooperation,” he said.
Turnout was 52 percent, on par with the 2014 poll, but lower than in 2011, when it was 66 percent.
Some 25 parties were contesting the election with 1.7 million people eligible to vote.
Troubles in the banking system, the health sector and over pensions will become key issues on the next government’s agenda.