The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) is expected to win the upcoming national elections on June 4. The anti-immigrant party pledges to reject EU migrant quotas and boost spending on security.
Opinion polls suggest that the SDS party will take 14.9 percent of the vote in Slovenia's fractured parliament, ahead of center-left party List of Marjan Serc (LMS) at 9.7 percent, making SDS the largest party in Slovenian parliament. The party has pushed a hardline stance on immigration, with improved security and rejecting EU migrant quotas at the top of its agenda. One SDS lawmaker, Branko Grims, said in a televised debate that "No migrants means a secure Slovenia."
Earlier in May, the SDS party held their main election convention, where former Slovenian prime minister and head of the party Janez Jansa, said that the "degenerate left" is "inviting migrants from completely different civilizational backgrounds. We do not accept that." The convention also featured Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, whose staunch anti-migrant and populist policies earned him a fourth term earlier this month. Orban endorsed SDS and said at the rally that "If Europe surrenders to mass population movement and migration, our own continent will be lost. Unless we watch carefully we could lose our countries."
Views on the street
On the street, Slovenian voters are mixed towards SDS's hardline stance. Some like 55-year old saleswoman Natasa favors their policies. "I believe that Slovenia should not be forced to accept migrants. We should first take care of our own poor people," she told Reuters regarding the party's rejection of EU migrant quotas. With a quota scheme, EU is distributing asylum seekers among member states. Currently, Slovenia has pledged to take in 567 asylum seekers under the quotas, but if SDS wins, the country will no longer adhere to its committal.
Others feel that the migrant issue requires a softer approach: "I believe Slovenia should help migrants and enable them to contribute to society. I will certainly not vote for the SDS as I strongly disagree with their radical opinions," Darja, a 24-year old student said in an interview with Reuters. Although SDS has made the migration topic the top of its agenda, Slovenian voters are also focused on the country's deteriorating health system, corruption and pension reform.
Even if SDS should win the elections, other parties may refuse to form a governing coalition with them. This may result in long coalition talks that could last months before a government is formed.
Slovenia migration statistics
According to the Asylum Information Database (aida), the Slovenian government registered 798 asylum applications in the first four months of 2018. In 2017, a total of 1,476 applications were lodged. Most of the asylum applicants came from Afghanistan (578 applicants), Algeria was second with 201 applications. The rejection rates for both nationalities were 83.3 percent and 100 percent respectively. A total of 94 Syrians applied for asylum in Slovenia in 2017 and 87 were granted refugee status.
The Slovenian Police also apprehended 1,226 people for irregular border-crossing in the first four months of 2018, a 280 percent increase over 322 apprehensions made in the same period in 2017.
Many Slovenian voters remember 2015 and 2016, when over a million asylum seekers traveled through Europe, many of them en route to Germany. Slovenia was a main transit country on the Balkan Route which migrants traveled on to reach Western Europe. In August 2016, it closed its borders to all migrants without a Schengen visa.