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Pre-election polls show that the opposition won the Slovenian election

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) – Election polls in Slovenia’s Sunday parliamentary elections indicated that the opposition Liberal Party had won a landslide victory and caused a major defeat to populist Prime Minister Janez Jans, who was accused of pushing a small European Union country to the right. in the office.

Surveys conducted by Mediana and published by public TV Slovenia and commercial Pop TV showed that the opposition Freedom Movement received 35.8% support compared to the government’s conservative Slovenian Democratic Party with 22.5%.

The first two candidates were followed by the New Slovenia party with 6.8%, followed by the Social Democrats with 6.6% and the left-wing party with 4.4%. Surveys have proven to be reliable in the past.

If the result confirms the official census, it means that the Freedom Movement, a newcomer to the election, is likely to form the next government in a coalition with smaller center-left groups. The party’s chairman addressed his supporters via video message from his home because he has COVID-19.

“People are dancing tonight,” Robert Golob told the cheering crowd at the party headquarters. “Tomorrow is a new day and we have a lot of work to do.”

Jansa posted a message for his supporters on Twitter, stating only “Thank you for your vote.”

It remains unclear which, if any, other smaller groups will be able to cross the 4% threshold and what the final distribution of seats will look like.

Jansa, an experienced politician, became prime minister more than two years ago after the previous liberal prime minister resigned. Jansa, an admirer of former US President Donald Trump, has pushed the country to right-wing populism since taking over at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Due to the high level of interest in Sunday’s elections, turnout was higher than usual – almost 50% of Slovenia’s 1.7 million voters cast their ballots by mid-afternoon, 15% more than in the previous 2018 elections.

Golob, a former business manager with an education in the USA, came out as a pioneer shortly after entering the political scene. The Freedom Movement advocated a move to green energy and sustainable development against Jansa’s nation-oriented narrative.

Liberals called Sunday’s election a referendum on Slovenia’s future. They argued that if re-elected, Jansa would move the traditionally moderate nation further from the EU’s “core” democratic values ​​to other populist regimes.

Jans’s SDS won the most votes in the election four years ago, but initially failed to find partners for the coalition government. He took over after the legislators of centrist and left-wing groups changed parties after the resignation of Liberal Prime Minister Marjan Sarec in 2020.

Jansa, who is in power, has been accused of slipping into an authoritarian government in the style of his ally, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. He came under the scrutiny of the EU amid reports that he was pushing opponents and the public media and appointing loyalists to key positions for control of state institutions.

The Freedom House Democracy Observatory recently stated that “while political rights and civil liberties are generally respected (in Slovenia), the current right-wing government continues to attempt to undermine the rule of law and democratic institutions, including the media and the judiciary.