Slovenian presidential election, 2007

Slovenian presidential election, 2007

Infobox Election
election_name = Slovenian presidential election, 2007
country = Slovenia
type = presidential
ongoing = no
previous_election = Slovenian presidential election, 2002
previous_year = 2002
next_election = Slovenian presidential election, 2012
next_year = 2012
election_date = 21 October and 11 November 2007

candidate1 = Danilo Türk
party1 = Independent (politician)
popular_vote1 = 677,333
percentage1 = 68.03%

candidate2 = Lojze Peterle
party2 = Independent (politician)
popular_vote2 = 318,288
percentage2 = 31.97%
title = President
before_election = Janez Drnovšek
before_party = none
after_election = Danilo Türk
after_party = none

The 2007 Slovenian presidential election was held in two rounds, on 21 October 2007 and 11 November 2007, to choose the successor of the second president Janez Drnovšek for a five-year term. [cite web |url= |title=Slovenian presidential election to be held in October |publisher=Xinhua |date=2007-07-20 |accessdate=2008-09-21] The election was called by France Cukjati, the President of the National Assembly, on 20 June 2007. [cite web |url=|title= Volitve čez tri mesece|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-06-20 |language=Slovene]

Seven candidates competed in the first round. [cite web |url=|title=Sedem kandidatov na volitve |accessdate=2008-09-05 | |date=September 27 2007 |language=Slovene] Three of them entered the race as independent candidates, the other four as candidates of political parties. The campaign was overshadowed by several political events and tensions between the Government and the Opposition. After the front runner Lojze Peterle, supported by the ruling conservative coalition, won the first round with far fewer votes than predicted by opinion polls, the second round was won by the left-wing candidate Danilo Türk with 68.03% of votes.cite web |url=|title= Volitve predsednika republike 2007|accessdate=2008-09-05 |date=2007-11-11 |language=Slovene]

In a referendum called by the National Council and held on the same day as the second round of the presidential election, the government's law providing basis for the nationalization of citizens' share in the major national insurance company was overturned with nearly 3 in 4 voters voting against the law. After both election and referendum results were announced, Janez Janša, the Prime Minister announced that he might resign following what was perceived as a heavy defeat for the Government. Later, the Government won the confidence vote in the National Assembly.


In Slovenia the role of the president is mainly ceremonial. The powers of the President include nominating the Prime Minister after consultation with the groups represented in the National Assembly, proposing candidates for various state officials and judges of the Supreme Court for approval by the National Assembly and, in rare circumstances, the power to pass laws and dissolve the National Assembly. The President is the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. Unlike the government, which is chosen by the National Assembly elected through proportional representation, the president is directly elected by the majority of Slovenian voters. [cite web |url=|title=Slovenia Country Brief |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade]

The previous presidential election in 2002 brought major changes to Slovenian politics. Milan Kučan, who had been the president since before the independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, could not run for president again due to constitutional limits and announced his retirement from active politics. Janez Drnovšek of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia, who had been the Prime Minister since shortly after independence, stood for the office and comfortably won the runoff against the conservative candidate Barbara Brezigar.cite web |url=|title= Poročilo o izidu volitev predsednika republike|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Republiška volilna komisija|date=2007-12-10 |language=Slovene]

The 2004 legislative election brought further major shifts and a swing to the right. The new government was formed by Janez Janša, the leader of a right-wing coalition. For the first time in Slovenia's history, the President and the Prime Minister would represent opposing political blocks for more than a few months. At the beginning, Drnovšek, who at the time was battling cancer, mostly stayed out of public sight. On reappearing in late 2005, he had changed his lifestyle; he became a vegan, moved out of the capital into the countryside and withdrew from party politics completely, quitting his already frozen membership at the Liberal Democrats. Instead, he embraced a more mystical approach to the politics, earning a nickname "Slovenia's Gandhi" from one of the comentators.cite web |url=|title= Slovenian President Finds Peace and Wants to Share It|accessdate=2008-09-05 |work = The New York Times|date=2006-09-09] cite web |url=|title=All hail the mystic President|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Times Online|date=2007-11-15]

The relations between Drnovšek and the Government quickly became strained, with the President publicly criticising government policy of the monopolisation of power, privatisation, and the treatment of the Strojans, a Roma family who were forced by their neighbours to relocate and were then subjected to police supervision and limitation of movement. The disagreements further escalated when the ruling coalition repeatedly refused to approve the President's candidate for the Governor of the Bank of Slovenia, starting with the incumbent Governor Mitja Gaspari. [cite web |url=|title= Gaspari Three Votes Short of Winning Second Term|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Government communication office |date=2007-02-06] The frictions continued with the appointment of other state officials, including the Ombudsman and the Constitutional Court judges. [cite web |url=|title=Zdenka Cebasek Travnik Appointed Ombudsman |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Republika Slovenija, Human rights ombudsman|date=2006-12-20] Further disagreements followed Drnovšek's initiatives to solve major foreign conflicts, including Darfur and Kosovo. Although the President's political support suffered after his personal transformation, the polls nevertheless showed public support for the President against the increasingly unpopular Government. [cite web |url=|title= Lepotica in zver|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Mladina |language=Slovene]

After years of speculation about his health and intentions, Janez Drnovšek announced in February 2007 that he would not run for president again. [cite web |url=|title= Drnovšek ne bo znova kandidiral|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2006-06-26 |language=Slovene]


Requirements for candidacy

According to the Law on Election, each political party can support only one candidate. Two or more parties can support a single candidate together. Such a candidacy has to be supported by three members of the National Assembly or by 3,000 voters. The other option is to run with public support; in such case, 5,000 support votes are required. [cite web |url=|title= Zakon o volitvah predsednika republike (ZVPR) |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Uradni list RS, št. 39/1992|date=1992-08-07 |language=Slovene]

Leading candidates

A conservative member of the European parliament and former Prime Minister of Slovenia, Lojze Peterle, announced his candidacy in November 2006 which made him the first official candidate. [cite web |url=|title= Peterle kandidat za predsednika države|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= |date=2006-11-02 |language=Slovene] He was endorsed by the three government right-wing parties, the New Slovenia (NSi), the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), and the Slovenian People's Party (SLS). [cite web |url=|title= Enotna podpora Peterletu|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= |date=2007-06-15 |language=Slovene]

Drnovšek's announcement that he would not run for president again led to expectations that the Social Democrats (SD) would nominate their leader Borut Pahor. Pahor himself confirmed that he is ready to run for the office. [cite web |url=|title=Pahor pripravljen kandidirati za predsednika države|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Finance|date=2007-03-31|language=Slovene] [cite web |url= |title= Pahor bi kandidiral za predsednika|accessdate=2008-09-05 | |date=2007-03-04 |language=Slovene] The Social Democrats had by that time become the most popular party in opinion polls and were considered the likely winners at the next general election in 2008; opinion polls indicated that Pahor would easily win the presidential election. [cite web |url=|title= Pahor vodi v bitki za predsednika|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-26-05] However, after months of mixed signals, Pahor finally announced that he would instead concentrate on the general election and would not run for the mostly ceremonial office of the president. [cite web |url=|title= Pahor s SD-jem na parlamentarne volitve|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= |date=2007-06-22]

Instead, Social Democrats nominated Danilo Türk, a former Slovenian ambassador, high official in the United Nations, and a professor at the University of Ljubljana's Faculty of Law. [cite web |url=|title= Türk tudi uradno s podporo SD-ja|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-07-13 |language=Slovene] He was also endorsed by Zares, a splinter party made up of many of the members of the National Assembly who left the Liberal Democracy, which quickly disintegrated in opposition after 10 years in government, [cite web |url=|title= Tudi v Zares bodo podprli Türka|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Finance|date=2007-07-12 |language=Slovene] and the pensioners' party DeSUS. [cite web |url= |title= DeSUS soglasno za Danila Türka|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-08-27 |language=Slovene] Türk also gained support from Active Slovenia (AS) and Party of Ecological Movements (SEG), two parties not represented in the National Assembly. [cite web |url= |title= Gaspari in Türk začenjata kampanjo|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-06-26 |language=Slovene]

Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) nominated Mitja Gaspari, the former Governor of the Bank of Slovenia.cite web |url=|title= Gaspari z LDS v predsedniško tekmo|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-06-30 |language=Slovene] Gaspari earlier held talks about the candidacy with the Social Democrats. Türk was discussing candidacy with the Liberal Democracy, as well.

The Slovenian National Party (SNS) nominated its leader, Zmago Jelinčič, [cite web |url= |title= Jelinčič bi bil rad Drnovšek|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=Finance |date=2007-05-25 |language=Slovene] who had already run for the office at the 2002 election, finishing third with 8.51% of the votes.

Independent candidates Peterle, Türk and Gaspari all managed to collect the support votes with Peterle reaching the required number in the first 4 hours of collecting. Jelinčič was supported by his fellow party members.cite web |url= |title= Peterle in Jelinčič prva uradna kandidata|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Žurnal24|date=2007-09-06 |language=Slovene]

Early polls indicated that Peterle, who had been campaigning for months and cultivated the image of a "man of the people", would win the election in a runoff against Türk or possibly Gaspari. [cite web |url= |title= Jelinčič najbolj napredoval|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-10-06 |language=Slovene] [cite web |url=|title= Christian Democrat Lojze Peterle – Slovenia’s likely new president|accessdate=2008-09-10 |publisher=|date=2007-09-18]

Other candidates

Other candidates, none of whom were expected to win a significant share of votes, were Darko Krajnc of the formerly parliamentarian Youth Party of Slovenia, the disabled rights activist Elena Pečarič, and Monika Piberl, supported by the Women's Voice of Slovenia party. [cite web |url=|title=Zakaj so kandidirali? |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2008-08-21 |language=Slovene] Pečarič was supported by non-aligned Majda Širca, independent Slavko Gaber and Roberto Battelli, representative of the Italian minority in Slovenia. [cite web |url=|title= Pečaričeva peta kandidatka|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=Žurnal24 |date=2007-09-20 |language=Slovene] Krajnc and Piberl were supported by political parties so they only needed to collect 3,000 support votes. [cite web |url=|title= Krajnc vložil kandidaturo|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-09-25 |language=Slovene] [cite web |url=|title= Monika Piberl kot sedma v boj|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=Finance|date=2007-10-01]

Several other candidates publicly announced their intention to run for the office. Jože Andrejaš, Jožef Horvat, Matej Sedmak, Marjan Beranič, Marko Kožar and Pavel Premrl failed to gather sufficient public support or later decided to retreat from the race. [cite web |url=|title= Predsedniške volitve 2007|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Žurnal24 |language=Slovene] Artur Štern, after leading a burlesque campaign, announced that he was in fact performing a media experiment in order to make a movie addressing the fact that there are no minimum requirements to announce candidacy. [cite web |url=|title= Šternova filmska kampanja|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-09-13 |language=Slovene ]

First round campaign

The official election campaign started in late September 2007. The campaigns of the three front runners were based mostly on the personal appeal of the candidates, with few concrete statements about political issues. Zmago Jelinčič led a lively campaign, denouncing the front runners, the Government, the ethnic minorities, and the Catholic church, and demanding an aggressive policy towards the neighbouring Croatia. [cite web |url= |title= Jelinčič: Slovenija potrebuje patriota|accessdate=2008-09-05 | |date=2007-09-20 |language=Slovene]

Topics discussed at televised debates included the rules governing the voting of non-resident nationals, which had been changed by the National Electoral Commission during the campaign. This resulted in voting materials being sent to all non-residents entered in the electoral register and not merely to those who requested them, as had been the previous practice. Opposition parties (the left-wing) disliked this move because of the lack of reliable records of the voter's addresses and because the rules were changed after the campaign had already started. [cite web |url=|title= Opozicijski poslanci izpodbijajo določbo o glasovanju iz tujine|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Dnevnik |date=2007-06-18 |language=Slovene] They particularly opposed the change because the voters from abroad seemed to favor right-wing parties so they could tip the scale in favour of Peterle if the result was close. [cite article |url= |title=Kaj bo, če bo tisoč glasov razlike? |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Mladina|issue=2007/42 |language=Slovene]

The campaign was overshadowed by other political events. A "Petition Against Censorship and Political Pressures on Journalists in Slovenia", alleging government meddling in journalism, was started by journalists Matej Šurc and Blaž Zgaga during the summer and signed by hundreds of Slovenian journalists from the major media. [cite web |url= |title=Peticija zoper cenzuro |work= Matej Šurc, Blaž Zgaga |accessdate=2008-09-09| date=2007-10-21 |language=Slovene] It was sent to the heads of state, prime ministers and parliamentary speakers of all EU member states during the presidential election campaign. Following the petition, the International Press Institute (IPI) sent a fact-finding mission to Ljubljana in November, to discuss the claims made in the petition with members of the Slovenian media. The contents of the mission’s report remain confidential, although IPI publicly called for (as it had before) the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the claims made. [cite web |url= |title=World Press Freedom Review |accessdate=2008-09-10| publisher= International Press Institute |year= 2007]

Another event which attracted much debate was the Supreme Court's annulment of the 1946 conviction of Gregorij Rožman, effectively rehabilitating the Catholic bishop who had been found guilty of war crimes and treason during WWII for his collaboration with the Italian and later German occupation forces. After several attempts to review the trial had failed during the 1990s, Janša's government changed the law to allow religious organisations to request a review of trials of their deceased members, an instrument which was previously reserved for close relatives. After the Archdiocese of Ljubljana initiated the review, the Supreme Court annulled the 1946 trial on procedural grounds, causing much controversy.This proved harmful for Peterle's campaign, as he is closely associated with the Catholic Church. [One of the factors which contributed to the resounding defeat of Bajuk's government was the participation of several leading members of the coalition in a ceremony in June 2000, honoring those who had collaborated with the Nazis during WW II and rejecting as "absurd" the Partisan resistance against the Axis occupation. Among those attending the ceremony, where the anthems of the collaborationist Home Guards were sung, were (reportedly) Prime Minister Andrej Bajuk, Assembly Speaker Janez Podobnik, Defense Minister Janez Janša, Foreign Minister Lojze Peterle, and Archbishop Franc Rode. See Sabrina Ramet: [ "Slovenia since 1990"] Retrieved on 2008-09-22. ] When asked about the Rožman case in a TV debate, Peterle confined himself to remarking that he was a supporter of the rule of law, that the war had divided the nation and that Rožman had played some part in that. [cite web |url=|title= Zadnje soočenje na POP TV|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-10-18 |language=Slovene]

The last opinion polls published before the first round predicted a runoff between Peterle, who would win 40%, and either Türk or Gaspari. The latter received each 20–25%; most polls predicted a substantially larger share for Türk. [cite web |url=|title="Peterle First, But runoff Likely in Slovenia" |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Angus Reid Global Monitor|date=2007-09-30]

First round results and reactions


Lojze Peterle: 20%–30% (pastel blue), 30%–40% (dark blue)

Mitja Gaspari: 20%–30% (yellow)

Zmago Jelinčič: 20%–30% (orange)] The first round, held on October 21, brought unexpected results. Contrary to predictions, Peterle won less than 29% of the vote, with Türk and Gaspari finishing close second and third, respectively. Jelinčič, who according to opinion polls was expected to win around 12% of the vote, actually won over 20%, finishing first in two of Slovenia's eight electoral units.Prime Minister Janez Janša blamed Peterle's poor showing on "certain topics" that were brought up during the campaign by "hidden centres of power", referring to the journalists' petition and the timing of the Supreme Court's decision. [cite web |url=|title= Janša upa na korekten drugi krog |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-10-23 |language=Slovene]

Runoff campaign

Following the unexpected results of the first round, new opinion polls showed major changes, giving Türk a large lead over Peterle. [cite web |url=|title= Ankete kažejo na zmago Türka |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-10-27 |language=Slovene] Liberal Democracy of Slovenia, which supported Gaspari in the first round announced it would support Türk in the second. [cite web |url= |title= Türku tudi podpora LDS|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-11-06 |language=Slovene]

After the surprise gains of the flamboyant Zmago Jelinčič in the first round, the campaigns of both candidates opted for more concrete political statements in public campaigning and debates. Peterle replaced the head of his campaign, and concentrated on questioning Türk's role in the 1991 secession from Yugoslavia, alleging that at the time when Peterle as the Prime Minister struggled for Slovenia's independence, Türk continued to act as an official representative of Yugoslavia in international institutions.cite web |url= |title= Fronta na liniji Türkove vloge v 90. letih|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-11-07 |language=Slovene] The campaign was backed by the Prime Minister Janša and the Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel who went so far as to confirm Peterle's claims on the Foreign Ministry's official website. [cite article |url=|title= Pravi za zgago |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=Mladina |issue=2007/45 |language=Slovene] Türk denied the allegations, pointing to his opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune advocating international recognition of Slovenia, and the fact that it was Rupel himself who in 1992 appointed Türk as the Ambassador to the UN and praised him for his service to the country. [cite web |url=|title= Türk: Kaže, da se je nekomu zameglil razum|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-11-06 |language=Slovene]

The new strategy appeared to backfire, and the polls before the runoff predicted that Türk would win between 63% and over 70% of the vote. [cite web |url=|title= Tuerk leads in Slovenia presidential runoff|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= B92|date=2007-11-09] [cite web |url=|title= Tuerk Surges Ahead in Slovenian runoff|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= Angus Reid Global Monitor|date=2007-11-10 ]

Final results and reactions

The runoff was held on 11 November 2007. Exit poll results published at the closing of the vote predicted a victory for Türk, with 69% of the vote. [cite web |url= |title=Türku visoka zmaga za najvišji položaj |accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=|date=2007-11-07 |language=Slovene] cite web |url= |title= Landslide victory for Danilo Türk in Slovenian presidential elections|accessdate=2008-09-10 ||date=2007-11-15 |language=Slovene] Peterle conceded immediately. In his first statemens, Peterle said his defeat was a vote against the ruling Janša government, and that "under the given circumstances" his result was "not that bad". By midnight, unofficial results from the Electoral Commission gave Türk a lead of 68% vs. 32%, with Peterle narrowly winning in four of Slovenia's 88 electoral districts.

Two days after the election, Prime Minister Janša announced that he might resign following what was perceived as a heavy defeat for the Government: "We will analyze the situation further, but all possibilities are open, including a resignation of the Government." He said that "it is particularly worrying that a lot of energy was invested in blackening the Government abroad", claiming his opponents portrayed Slovenia "as Belarus" or some other authoritarian country. The opposition parties said that talk of resignation just weeks before Slovenia took over European Union presidency presidency was irresponsible and unwise, [cite web |url=|title= Slovenia's PM: Cabinet might resign after opposition candidate elected president|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher= International Herald Tribune|date=2007-11-13] but the Prime Minister called a vote of confidence for 19 November 2007. [cite web |url= |title= Slovenian PM seeks confidence vote after opposition candidate became president|accessdate=2008-09-05 |publisher=International Herald Tribune |date=2007-11-16] The Government won the confidence vote, but support for the ruling SDS subsequently achieved its all-time low rating, with only 18% of voters intending to vote for it in the fall 2008 election. [cite web |url= |title= Slovenian government survives confidence vote|accessdate=2008-09-05 | |date=2007-11-20]

Reactions to Türk's victory from international media were positive. The Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung described him as "more or less the ideal man for the job". [cite web |url=|title= In Slowenien setzt sich der Aussenseiter Türk durch|accessdate=2008-09-16 |publisher=Neue Zürcher Zeitung |date=2007-11-12|language=German] The media focused on the landslide victory that was percieved as a severe defeat for Janša’s centre-right coalition. [cite web |url=|title= Danilo Turk wins Slovenia presidential vote|accessdate=2008-09-16 |publisher= AFP|date=2007-11-11] cite web |url=|title= Turk elected president of Slovenia |accessdate=2008-09-16 |publisher= France 24|date=2007-11-11] Since the EU presidency was closing, Türk's diplomatic background was put forward. "Slovenia is your solid, faithful and credible partner. Rely on us, and we'll be a good president of the European Union next year," Türk said. Türk was also expected to maintain Slovenia's alliance with the United States even though he was highly critical of the war in Iraq, as Al Jazeera reported. [cite web |url=|title= Ex-UN diplomat wins Slovenia polls |accessdate=2008-09-16 |publisher= Al Jazeera|date=2007-11-12]

On December 22, Türk was sworn in as the President of the Republic of Slovenia. In his inaugural, he thanked his predecessor Janez Drnovšek for his contribution to success and respect of Slovenia. Later, he also stated that he would work closely with Janša's government during Slovenia's six-month EU presidency. [cite web |url=|title= Türk prisegel kot predsednik države|accessdate=2008-09-09 |publisher=|date=2007-12-22 |language=Slovene]

Detailed results


External links

* [ Presidential Election - A November Surprise]

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