Slovenia ahead of the European elections: an increasingly unpopular government

By Tjaša Doljak, PA Consultant | Slovenia

Slovenian political parties are gearing up for the 2024 European election race, coinciding with the mid-term of the current left-green(ish) government. Despite enjoying strong public support in its initial year, PM Robert Golob’s Freedom Movement party is now experiencing a decline in popularity among voters.

Current government faces significant decline in public support

Just a year ago, 58.2% of respondents rated the government’s work as successful while in November 2023, the picture is completely reversed, with 56.3% of respondents now rating the government’s work as unsuccessful. The polls also revealed that the public’s trust in the work of PM Golob has significantly declined, with a rating of 2.33 (out of 5) for his work. This marks one of the lowest ratings given to PMs in Slovenian history, and, in the past, such low ratings have often resulted in votes of no confidence.

This has led to a considerable drop in support for the PM’s Freedom Movement party, down from 40% immediately after the 2022 elections to just 27.8%. A notable concern for politicians is the increase in undecided voters, growing from 19% in January 2023 to 33% at the end of the year.

A series of obstacles

That being said, it does not appear to be the end for PM Golob just yet. A low approval rating is to be expected given the challenges Slovenia – and most of Europe – is facing, including economic slowdown, high inflation, and increased prices of goods and services.

At the same time, Golob’s actions – such as proposing an increase in taxes, unmet promises of a reform of the health system, the introduction of a very rigid system for recording employee working hours, along with allegations of unauthorised pressure on the former interior minister among others – have contributed to his declining popularity with voters.

2024: a year of reconstruction

Slovenia’s primary challenge in 2024 is expected to be post-flood reconstruction. In August 2023, heavy rainfall led to severe flooding in many parts of Slovenia, marking the most significant natural disaster since Slovenian independence in 1991. The catastrophic floods resulted in loss of life, extensive damage to homes, and destruction of roads and infrastructure.

Countless businesses were affected, resulting in estimated damages ranging from 3 to 9 billion euros. The reconstruction budget has yet to be defined as the government is still finalising the so-called flood reconstruction act, thought plans include a 5-year tax on banks’ balance sheets and a temporary increase in taxes on legal entities’ incomes. This measures will be difficult to swallow with the national economy in a cooling-off phase.

Slovenia in the European Parliament 

Slovenia has 8 representatives in the European Parliament, evenly split between the centre-right and centre-left. The largest opposition party, centre-right SDS (EPP), together with the non-parliamentary people’s party SLS, holds three MEPs while the Christian party NSi (EPP) has one MEP. On the left, the Social Democrats (S&D) and the Freedom Movement (Renew) each have two Slovenian MEPs.

All the current MEPs are publicly recognized individuals, with some of them having already served more than one term in Brussels. It is still too early for any predictions regarding the outcome of the EU elections (candidate lists are still under preparation), especially for voters not leaning towards centre-right parties, who typically tend to decide at the last minute.

Could Slovenia get a 9th MEP?

There are currently 705 MEPs in the European Parliament. In June 2023, the European Parliament proposed that the number of MEPs should increase to 720 after the 2024 elections. This would result in an increase in the number of MEPs for certain countries including Slovenia, increasing the country’s representation in the Parliament.