The news magazine Mladina published the results of a phone survey which show that up to 30 percent of the electorate is still undecided. Of the 905 participants in the survey, 21.8 percent said they would vote for the LDS, while only 9 percent said they would vote for the SDS, giving it second place. ZLSD attracted 8.5 percent, while the SLS+SKD, DeSUS and Nova Slovenija attracted just over the 4 percent minimum to enter parliament. Only 1.4 percent support the SNS, which means that they would not gain any seats in parliament.
The same survey showed 54.1 percent believe Janez Drnovšek is the person most suited to lead the government. Current Prime Minister Bajuk came in second with only 10 percent. SDS leader Janez Janša came in fourth with six percent, ZLDS leader Borut Pahor placed sixth with only 2.6 percent support.
Also this week, POP TV ran a series which paired mismatched party leaders and dragged them over the coals. First, SLS+SKD leader Franc Zagožen was put on stage with former coalition partner SDS leader Janez Janša. The two were asked pointed questions about the causes of the downfall of their ruling coalition earlier this summer.
The following day, LDS leader Janez Drnovšek was pitted against ZLSD leader Borut Pahor. Pahor was put on the spot and asked to appraise Drnovšek's eight year tenure as Prime Minister, but only said that Drnovšek had been effective. Later, Drnovšek was asked whether he would forego the post of Prime Minister to run in presidential elections next year. He answered that for now, he is only concerned with this election.
The final installment brought representatives from the three other parties currently in parliament - SNS, DeSUS and Nova Slovenija. DeSUS, the pensioners' party, was grilled about whether their membership only included pensioners. SNS leader Zmago Jelinčič was asked pointed questions about the extent of his nationalism. But the moderator saved the most controversial questions for the representatives of Nova Slovenija.
Andrej Bajuk, the leader of Nova Slovenija was raised in Argentina after his parents fled Slovenia after World War II. A common stereotype for those Slovenes who fled after the war is that they collaborated with the Nazis against the Communist Partisans. The moderator asked a string of controversial questions about the theory, which were not only embarrassing to Nova Slovenija but served to highlight a major rift in Slovene society.
News from around Slovenia
On Wednesday, Defense Minister Janez Janša presented the details of a program which will introduce clerics into the armed forces. An agreement creating the new clerical service was signed on Friday 22 September between the Commission for Outstanding Questions with the Catholic Church and the Slovene Bishops' Conference on Relations with the State.
In presenting the project, Janša said that all NATO members have clerics in their armed forces, and that Slovenia together with Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria and Moldova were the only armed forces in Europe without clerics. He added that the lack of clerics available to soldiers is a violation of human rights.
Sociologists, quoted in the daily Dnevnik, refuted that idea, adding that the clerics to be introduced will be Catholics and this could cause problems for soldiers of other faiths or of no faith. The current government has often been accused of having an extremely close relationship with the Catholic Church and this move could provoke a major controversy in Slovene society.
In Split this week Slovene mayors participated in a two-day conference of mayors of Adriatic towns. 25 towns in Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece were represented. The conference explored the possibilities of increasing cooperation in the Adriatic region. A second follow-up conference will be called next year.
On Friday, representatives of 19 towns around Ljubljana signed an agreement with Ljubljana mayor Viktorija Potočnik on cooperation in development projects. The agreement is the first step in establishing a Ljubljana region in Slovenia. At present Slovenia has no official regions, and is the only such country either in the European Union (EU) or affiliated with it. When fully formed, the Ljubljana region will be eligible for resources from EU regional development funds, for which the country currently does not qualify.
Slovenia goes to the Olympics
Rower Iztok Čop held the Slovene flag in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Sydney this past week. Čop is considered a gold-medal favorite in the double sculls race. The Slovene team is made up of 74 athletes.
Early in the week, the Slovene team suffered a tremendous psychological setback when gymnast Mitja Petkovšek fell from the parallel bars and lost his spot in the finals. Petkovšek was considered the gold-medal favorite, and Slovenia had pinned high hopes on his efforts. Due to the error, Petkovšek finished 75 out of 81 in the qualifying round.
The country also expected a strong showing from its men's handball team. They too did not live up to expectations, losing to both France and Sweden and winning only one match, against the Australian team.
To capitalize on the exposure afforded by the games, Slovene House opened on the thirteenth floor of an office building in downtown Sydney last week. A 300 cubic meter flag, the largest in the city, is hanging from the side of the building to advertise the house. An exhibit about Slovenia and Slovene participation in the Olympics is featured at the house, and a full cultural program is planned. The Greek restaurant in the building next door also switched to a Slovene menu for the duration of the games. President Kučan visited the house this week and also met with the Slovene team at the Olympic Village.
Brian J Požun, 25 September 2000
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