Opposition wins by one seat in Slovenia elections

A coalition of opposition parties led by Borut Pahor of the centre-left Social Democrats have won by one seat in Slovenia's national elections on Sunday, narrowly defeating Prime Minister Janez Jansa's SDS party.


A bribery scandal combined with coalition-building opposition to pave the way for a new government in Slovenia Sunday, as a 44-year-old ex-Yugoslav communist secured the narrowest of poll victories, the country's electoral commission said.

The centre-left opposition Social Democrats led by Borut Pahor seized a one-seat victory, defeating prime minister Janez Jansa's SDS party with 99.9 percent of the votes counted.

Pahor is set to become one of the EU's youngest heads of government after his SD garnered 30.5 percent of the votes, winning 29 of the 90 seats in parliament, against 29.32 percent of the votes (28 seats) for Jansa's SDS, the commission said.

Pahor's centre-left allies Zares and the Liberal Democracy Party (LDS) scored 9.40 percent and 5.19 percent of the vote, respectively.

Final official results will be published on September 29 after votes cast abroad are counted but there is little chance they would alter the final outcome, analysts said.

A total of 47,761 ballots were sent for voters abroad. At past elections, less than half of them were returned and counted.

"This is a great achievement for us but we will still have to wait for the official final results by the commission," Pahor told journalists at the government's press center.

Outgoing Jansa indirectly admitted his defeat saying although the results were not final, the centre-left opposition parties had "more chances" of forming the next Slovenian government.

"The recently-formed coalition (led by Pahor) has received more votes than the coalition that had a majority in the outgoing parliament, so we can say that they have more chances of forming the new government," Jansa told journalists.

Jansa's SD received almost the same support as in 2004, when it had 29.08 percent.

His main centre-right coalition partner Slovenian Pepeople's Party (SLS) saw support fall back to 5.19 percent compared to 9.09 percent in 2004, while Nova Slovenija (NSi) failed to reach the four percent threshold.

The fourth member of the outgoing coalition. the Pensioners Democratic Party (DESUS), that has showed readiness to join a centre-left coalition led by the SD, saw its support increased to 7.45 percent from 4.04 percent in 2004.

Initial exit polls results published by private POP TV and Slovenian national television had given Pahor's party narrow, but consistent leads.

Sunday's elections in Slovenia -- the only former Yugoslav republic in the European Union -- took place against the backdrop of a bribery scandal hanging over Jansa and the centre-left opposition closing ranks.

In a recent report, Finnish television claimed Jansa and other government officials took bribes before awarding the largest military contract ever signed by Ljubljana to Finnish defence contractor Patria in 2006.

Jansa dismissed the accusations as "absurd," adding there were more pressing matters to attend to in the run-up to election day.

After running most of the electoral campaign as rivals, the three centre-left parties agreed to form a coalition in case of a victory that had been supported by long-time Slovenian president, reformed communist Milan Kucan, and the mayor of Ljubljana, Zoran Jankovic.

The leader of centre-left Zares, Gregor Golobic, said the left parties victory came as a result of re-structuring of the LDS, that had lost against the SDS in 2004, and of the creation of Zares.

"These dymanics on the left were welcomed by citizens that had been hoping for something new," Golobic told AFP, adding that Jansa's SDS had made too many mistakes during his mandate to win re-election.

Eighty-eight MPs in the 90-seat parliament will be appointed by political parties, while two MPs will be elected by the Hungarian and Italian minorities respectively.

Turnout at Sunday's election was 62.16 percent, according to final unofficial results published by the electoral commission.

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