LJUBLJANA, Slovenia – Slovenia is holding an early parliamentary election on Sunday to choose its third government in three years. The EU-member country was forced into a vote after the outgoing prime minister, Alenka Bratusek, lost a power struggle within her party and resigned.
A new party is leading in opinion polls but appears far from majority support, and another coalition government is the likely outcome.
Once the most prosperous of the eastern European states, the eurozone nation plunged into financial turmoil during the EU debt crisis. It has managed to stabilize Slovenia's banks without resorting to an international bailout.
The front-runner is the party of Miro Cerar, a politically inexperienced law expert and parliamentary consultant, better known as the son of Olympic gymnastics medalist Miroslav Cerar. The Miro Ciro Party was formed in June, and Cerar swiftly gained popularity as a new, untainted political figure. Just behind is the conservative Slovene Democratic Party of former Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who was jailed last month for corruption. Several smaller parties are also running.
WHAT THE POLLS SAY
Recent surveys show Cerar's party with about 30 percent support, ahead of Jansa's Democrats on 25 percent. The Pensioner's Party is next at around 10 percent, while other smaller parties — including Bratusek's — trailed.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
The new government must handle sensitive proposals to privatize Slovenia's main airport, Telekom Slovenia and other state assets. Cerar has spoken against selling state property.
BY THE NUMBERS
Fifteen parties are competing for 90 seats. There are 1.7 million voters, but analysts predict a low turnout because voting comes at the height of summer holiday season. Polls open at 0500 GMT Sunday and close at 1700 GMT. Exit polls are expected soon after.
Jovana Gec contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.