Slovenia's Top Opposition Party Leads Poll Before Spring Ballot

  • Failed presidential hopeful Sarec’s group in second place
  • Premier Cerar’s party in fourth despite robust economy

Janez Jansa

Photographer: Jure Makovec/AFP via Getty Images

The opposition party of former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who tumbled out of politics amid a 2013 bribery conviction that was later overturned, has a slight lead among voters before this spring’s elections, a poll showed.

Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party, known as SDS, has 15.8 percent support, followed by a group backing former presidential candidate Marjan Sarec, who lost to incumbent Borut Pahor in a November election, with 12.9 percent, according to the Jan. 1-4 survey by pollster Delo Stik published on Monday. Sarec, a comedian-turned-mayor, has not formally established a party. The Social Democrats were third with 12. 1 percent, while Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s Party of the Modern Center was fourth with 8 percent.

Cerar’s administration, on its way to become the Balkan euro-area country’s first to complete a full four-year term since the start of the global financial crisis a decade ago, has overseen robust economic growth following a 2013 taxpayer-backed bank bailout. Cerar’s party emerged weeks before the July 2014 elections to take advantage of voter disappointment over the bank bailout and the previous government’s plans to sell off state assets. The parliamentary elections are likely to be held in May or June.

Since taking power, Cerar has reneged on a pledge to the European Union to sell the country’s largest bank, Nova Ljubljanska Banka d.d. Slovenia made the commitment after receiving permission from the EU’s executive commission to use 3.2 billion euros ($3.8 billion) of taxpayer money to bail out a state-run banking sector that, following years of mismanagement by the state, pushed the country to the brink of insolvency.

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