Slovenia votes under cloud of eurozone debt crisis

Last Updated: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 23:51

Ljubljana: Slovenians voted in snap elections
on Sunday with centre-left Prime Minister Borut Pahor expected to
become the latest casualty of the eurozone debt crisis.

Turnout was 18.7 per cent at 1740 IST, compared with 15.2
per cent at the same time in 2008 elections, according to the
official government website, after polls predicted it could
reach as high as 70 percent.

Former premier Janez Jansa of the centre-right Slovenian
Democratic Party (SDS), who campaigned on promises of
structural reforms and spending cuts, was expected to dislodge
Pahor, 48, although an election-eve survey showed his lead
narrowing.

The poll gave the SDS 28.5 per cent of voter support,
ahead of Positive Slovenia, a new centre-left party founded by
Ljubljana`s popular millionaire mayor Zoran Jankovic, on 24.6
percent.

Pahor`s Social Democrats were seen crashing to third
place with between 10 and 14 percent of the vote.

A confident Jankovic, 58, said after casting his ballot
that with his experience as Ljubljana`s mayor and as manager
of the country`s largest supermarket chain Mercator he would
concentrate on the economy`s recovery, "and that is a field on
which I`m sure I and my team are very strong."

Slovenian President Danilo Turk said, for his part, "I
believe this process (early elections) will provide a stable
government that will then quickly start dealing with all the
tasks ahead of us, in particular financial stabilisation."

Pahor`s government lost a confidence vote in September
after major reforms to the creaking pension system were
rejected in a referendum, prompting early elections after just
two years in office.

The debt crisis in the 17-nation eurozone has already led
to a change in government in a string of countries, including
Portugal, Greece, Italy and most recently Spain.

Although still in a far better state than many euro
members, since joining in 2007 Slovenia`s national debt as a
proportion of output has roughly doubled to 45.5 per cent,
according to the European Commission.

The three main credit agencies have cut their ratings on
Slovenian debt in recent months, and last month interest rates
hit seven per cent, a level that forced other countries to
seek outside support.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, December 4, 2011 - 23:51

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