Jolanka Horvat has watched her home region of Pomurje, in Slovenia’s northeast, slide deeper into poverty and joblessness over the past few years. And the 53-year-old seamstress has little hope of change after Slovenia’s snap election this weekend, the third in less than three years. “Our kids will have to go abroad to make a living,” the mother of two told AFP ahead of Sunday’s vote. “I expect nothing from this nor any other government… they just make promises but nothing happens,” she said, a refrain echoed around the country. Once a model member of the European Union which it joined in 2004, Slovenia was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and narrowly escaped a bailout last year.
The situation is the worst in Pomurje, near the border with Austria and Hungary, with the country’s lowest income per capita and highest unemployment rate at 21 percent, against 13 percent nationwide.
Following the resignation in May of centre-left Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek — whose EU-driven economic reforms were criticised for bringing little benefit to ordinary people — a law professor with no political experience, Miro Cerar, looks likely to win the election.
But even this will make little difference, voters fear. “A simple man does not have a chance in elections, they (political parties) just won’t let him try to change things,” says Horvat.