Are Slovenians Interested in Politics?

Slovenia is a young nation that only acquired its independence less than 30 years ago. Since 1991, Slovenians live in a traditional European democracy, and they have the right to vote in this new country ever since the first elections in April 1990. What does it mean for people who have lived under a socialist rule for the most significant part? 

Due to Slovenia’s eventful history and its recent political changes, we could think that Slovenians would have a particularly strong interest in politics and would express it publicly and in the ballots. However, as around every election, we can notice than Slovenians refuse to talk and be involved in politics.

It’s time to backtrack on the Slovenian political habits to discover why they show such a concerning lack of interest in politics, even in a period where a lot of issues and significant choices have to be made. We will see what the main political stakes in Slovenia are and what is done to involve more the Slovenian population.

History and Overview of the Slovenians Participation

Political life in Slovenia has known many major changes with the fall of the Yugoslav Kingdom and the pegged of the socialist system in 1990. It ended the delegation voting system, and a widespread western model of the democratic voting system based on multi-partyism was then implemented in Slovenia.

Even before the first elections, it was noticeable that Slovenians were particularly involved and interested in choosing their country’s political future, since the participation rate of the referendum for independence in 1990 was exceptionally high, culminating at more than 90%. For the April 1990 first elections, the voters’ turnout remained impressive, around 83.5%.

Nevertheless, the participation rate never ceased to decrease ever since the primary first elections. This phenomenon echoes the political situations of most European countries. Still, this situation seems particularly alarming for a young country like Slovenia, which is a new democracy and knows one of the biggest turnouts of participation of the continent. 

The Slovenian numbers can then be compared to few old European democracies, such as France, that is currently going through an eventful situation with a turnout decrease of about 20% from 1993 to 2017. It is even more critical in Slovenia, with a decline of more than 33% since 1992. It is nearer to the changes noticed in Spain, another relatively new democracy in Europe.

This situation appears as very concerning for most Slovenian political organizations, such as most other post-socialist countries of the area. Indeed, this is a global tendency in democracies of Eastern and Central Europe: the only states that do not face such a trend are Hungary, that deals with a minimal turnout of around 3 percent, and Poland, that is even noticing an increase of its political participation of about 7.5%. 

As long as Slovenia is concerned, the main reasons for the decline of participation in elections are all particularly disturbing and are noting a sensitive marker of citizens’ disengagement in political issues and life. This acknowledgment can echo to several significant factors, such as lack of representation and a lack of trust in the institutions, but also scandals of corruption and a way of “giving up” in front of the power of the private sector.

Specificities of the Different Groups of Population

The most significant issues that affect Slovenians’ participation and interests, and especially the most vulnerable groups of the population, are then mostly linked to the problem of representation that is palpable in Slovenia. Furthermore, the context of the 2008 economic crisis has profoundly contributed to weakening the trust of the population towards their political elites. 

Children, Young Adults, and Politics

First of all, one of the most concerning problems of the population disengagement is the enormous part of young people that is globally uninterested in politics and does not get involved in any part of the political process. Indeed, for the last Slovenian elections, only 40% of the young adults between 18 and 24 years old participated in the election. 

Even more, the Slovenian researcher Tomaž Deželan showed that only 20% of the young adult population is active on political matters. This means that not only this type of person does not vote, but moreover, they do not remarkably follow or have an opinion on political topics. 

This tendency can appear as quite surprising if you compare them to the young adults of the nineties, it seems particularly disturbing. Plus, as they will grow old, they will probably not get more politicized, which will not solve the issue of lack of trust in the institutions.

The issue is concerning, but the state actually considers this problem, notably by trying to include even the youngest children and to make them learn more about politics. In fact, programs are implemented towards this path ever since 1990, for example with the creation of a “Parliament day” event for children.

Participation of Women

On the contrary, women could not be more asking for better representation and involvement in political matters, even when they are children or young adults, which tends to show that the age parameter could be less important than the gender one. In fact, most children who attend the “Parliament day” event for children are girls.

The representation of women in this kind of project is essential, such as when a woman was elected at the presidency of the parliament: it gave hope to many girls and also allowed to discuss important topics like gender equality, love, and sexuality, but also even homosexuality.

Also, the fact that Slovenia was one of the first countries in the world to have a female prime minister was a great inspiration for many young girls. Everything shows that the girls’ interest in politics is drastically disproportionate from the boys’ one: the girls and women might be the future of political participation in the country.

However, girls and women are now asking for more wide measures. They want to be elected and not just only nominated, which remains a struggle in the Slovenian society as well as in most other places in the world. It is imperative because it would prevent these girls from losing interest in politics as growing older. After all, they are facing too much struggle with traditional gender roles, discriminatory practices, and stereotypes.

How to Revitalize the Society’s Interest in Politics?

For every political actor in Slovenia, it seems more important than ever to bring back voters to the ballots, whereas it serves populist spheres or those who fight against them. 

The Role of Social Media and Public Networks in a Context of Populism Rise

There are many connections to make between the rise of populism, the disengagement of most people, including young adults, and the growing role of social media in political matters. For many Slovenian politicians, the activity on social networks is responsible for a significant part of the atrophy of the country’s political public life.

For others, the interest for social media and electronic devices could be a way to revitalize young people’s political interest by reaching them directly and fight on their ground the development of fake news and populist platforms. It could then reinforce the role of public networks in the building of a strong political feeling in the country.

Responses and Attempts Leaded by Political Parties

In order to take into account the discordancies between the traditional campaigns and the wishes and way of life of the population, many attempts have been launched to respond to the need to feel closer to politicians and political topics and issues. This way, the efforts have been significantly reinforced around young voters.

Now, there is a growing emphasis on presenting younger candidates (now, more than 10% of candidates are 30 years old or less in Slovenia) and bring more people inside the political parties, notable thanks to their young factions. For example, the Pirate Party and its section “Young Pirates” are promoting more inclusion of the youth through different measures.

The boldest ones would be the fact of organizing e-elections to create more adhesion and participation, and also the idea of lowering the age of eligibility, that would go from 18 to 16. Once again, this measure shows the significant role of the young voters, and this gesture would indicate that the politicians trust them. This last proposal is very popular in Slovenia, as it is approved by various parties all over the broad political spectrum.

Face The Decreasing Political Participation

To conclude, like in most western countries, we can assist in a trend of dispassionate political life in Slovenia, with the disengagement of individuals visible in many ways such as a concerning turnout. This issue is particularly severe for those who noticed it, and various actors are trying to implement new programs and ways to adapt to everyone’s needs. 

It shows that the way to consider politics is changing and that the elites need to listen to the message sent by their citizens. In any case, if YOU are interested in Slovenian politics, you can check our article that sums up the organization and history of political parties in Slovenia.

Thank you for reading our article. We do our best to provide you with first-hand information about Slovenia and its wonders. We know we are not infallible though. In case you encounter any mistakes in our articles or you have any suggestions, please contact us. Let us know how we could improve. It will help us to keep our information updated and deliver to readers the most valuable possible content.  We will gladly take your suggestions!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *