We have broken the vicious circle of anticommunism in the post-Yugoslav context. What follows is a bit longer piece on the campaign to give you a few markers of the historic results!
As you imagine we are more than happy to present you with such an amazing result of the elections! As all the commentators say the United Left Coalition (ULC) was the biggest surprise. But the path was difficult, ULC was from the early on marginalised. What follows is a more general overview of the electoral campaign.
The context of the irregular elections is, as the name suggests, of irregular and extraordinary character. After years of the deepening capitalist crisis with austerity measures and strengthened privatization policy (in last months, few major well-standing companies like Helios and Mercator have been sold out cheaply, but the future list is long) and last year’s uprisings, the constant fractures within the ruling coalition forced the early elections. The decision to put elections in the mid of the summer, put all the new political powers, United Left Coalition, but also Pirate Party and others under great pressure: How to organize the electoral campaign in one month with very modest financial resources (crowdsourcing campaign), small local party infrastructure and with extremely biased and few opportunities in the established media? The latter usually gave ULC space only in the debates with other extra-parliamentary parties. Above all, the elections were set in the summer time, when many leave for their short holidays, or set their mind on the World Cup. Our support in the public opinion poll was constantly measured around 2-2.5%, which brought us behind all the big parliamentary parties, on spot 8, and also behind our initial goal of 4% parliamentary threshold.
However, we were determined not to simply follow media and identity politics, but set out on the grassroots campaign that was concentrated on the numerous local activities, reaching out to some local activists and sympathisers of the United Left, talking face-to-face, organising presentations all across Slovenia in order to establish a local basis, on which we build on in the future. In this respect, the process was extremely important and precious, we managed to spread outside Ljubljana, Maribor and a few other urban millieus, where we have gained some support already on the elections for the European Parliament in late May (5.5%) (Find the analysis here).
As the only political force with concrete proposals for the exit of the crisis and for new organisational forms (cooperatives, workers' management, writing off the debt, democratic control of banks and big state corporations), our campaign pushed for one major topic: the end of privatisation. When the well-standing retail chain Mercator was bought by the foreign company Agrokor during the last weeks of the campaign, two things were shown: first that only ULC mobilized critical awareness around the topic, and second that without political pressure within the formal politics, it is extremely difficult to stop privatisation.
Also and most notably there was another major new political party, of centrist and seemingly liberal provenience that took the position of high moralism and rule of law (against corruption); it is called Party of Miro Cerar, himself a lawyer, already present in the legal work for Parliament. Somehow surprisingly this party was polling on around 35% of votes and was presented by all media as a total hit, soon becoming number one party, which mirrored discontent with the official parties and corruption. Despite its high legalist and moralist stance, the chief protagonist got “caught” during the the last week campaign when speaking negatively about the same-gender marriage, right of abortion and some other issues. This unveiled a more conservative side of the “high morality”, which occupied the space of the old Left and Right.
The new centrist party presented us with another tough challenge: how to position ourselves not only as the voice of discontent with the existing political parties, but as being the voice against the more general economic order and presenting a more radical alternative that goes beyond “privatisation with moral face and transparency”?
Apart from the continuation of the work on the grassroots, reports and interviews in local and other media, ULC received one major opportunity in the last week of our campaign. One of the Party’s representatives, the most visible coordinator Luka Mesec was invited into the key final debate with all the major parties on the commercial, most viewed POP TV. The presentation of arguments, new political awareness and a critical voice of ULC stunned the representatives of the established parties, and marked a surprising turn to more than 4% of electoral prognosis. In the very last days of the campaign many public figures, from intellectuals, activists to social groups and musicians embraced the United Left.
Let us sum up the results (still votes from abroad and postal voting not counted): the winner of the elections is the Party of Miro Cerar (34.6%), the Slovenian Democrats are second (20.7%), Desus, the pensioner party are third (10.2%), and then the fourth spot is taken by the biggest surprise of elections - ULC (6%). The Social democrats are on fifth spot following with 5.9%. Sixth place was taken by the Catholic party New Slovenia (5.5%), and the last to past the threshold was the former primer minister party Alliance of Alenka Bratušek (4.3%).
What we can already say about ULC’s voters is that there are many that voted for the first time and that before voted on principle the “lesser evil”. Thus, the vote for the ULC went beyond the exclusive dominant binary: either, pro Janša (the former, prime minister, president of Slovenian Democrats, at the moment in prison due to corruption), or against Janša? This was the vote for the critical voice that is altogether rejecting the neoliberal resolving of crisis.
But this is only the start, we have opened the doors that open to the future that needs to be re-build and taken away from the neoliberal trends. Let us conclude with the call for ecological and democratic socialism, for the victories and connections of the new Left in Slovenia, Europe, and around the globe!