Anti-Immigrant Party Wins Slovenian Elections As Populist Wave Washes Over Europe

In early March, Deutsche Bank wrote that "the Liberal world order is in jeopardy" as a result of a global populist uprising to a level not seen since World War II, with DB strategist Jim Reid adding that "it's hard to get away from the fact that populism is currently going through an explosion in support at present." The unprecedented ascent of populism across Europe, where the ECB is rapidly losing the war against anti-globalist forces which made its creation possible, is shown in the chart below: it reveals that whereas in 2000 only 8.5% of the European vote went to populist states, in 2017 that number rose to 24.1%...

... tied with the highest print on record, achieved just before the start of World War II.

Well, as of 2018 we can make it well above 25%, because as of Sunday afternoon, Slovenia's anti-immigrant, populist party, Janez Jansa's SDS-EPP, has won the election with 28% of the vote, according to exit polls which were made available after voting ended at 5pm GMT. The preliminary result is due by 9pm.

In the hugely fragmented vote, the Adriatic country's 1.7 million-strong electorate was set to choose between 25 parties, with final opinion polls putting the centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) first on up to 24.5%. And, according to partial results late on Sunday, that estimate may have been low, with the party taking roughly 28% of the vote.

The problem in Slovenia, which now may face a period of government turbulence, is that most other parties have said they are reluctant to join a coalition with the SDS, whose leader Janez Jansa acknowledged any post-election negotiations would be difficult.

"We will probably have to wait for some time (after the election)... before serious talks on a new government will be possible," Jansa told reporters after voting in Sentilj pri Velenju. Jansa has already served twice as prime minister - from 2004 until 2008 and again from 2012 to 2013. However, he has been hampered by corruption accusations, even serving time in prison in 2014 on graft charges related to Slovenia's largest-ever corruption scandal, although the country's Constitutional Court overturned the conviction in April 2015.

As Reuters points out, the election was called in March after centre-left Prime Minister Miro Cerar resigned, weeks before the scheduled end of his term of office, after the Supreme Court ordered a new referendum on a railway investment project championed by his government.

While the final vote details are still pending, the divided nature of the vote means the SDS would need to ally with at least two other parties to gain a majority in the 90-seat parliament, the Telegraph notes. But so far most other parties have demurred at joining forces with the SDS, which has the open support of Hungary's anti-establishment Prime Minister Viktor Orban, and for obvious reasons:  the SDS wants to follow neighbouring Hungary's tough anti-migration policies, and according to the just concluded vote, so does a plurality of the Slovenian population.

"We believe that today a first step will be made towards Slovenia becoming a country that will put the well-being and security of Slovenians first," Mr Jansa said.

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So what happens next as this tidal wave of populist sentiment continues to wash over Europe? Here is what Jim Reid said back in March:

As of now the rise in populism hasn't yet destabilised markets however we find it difficult to get away from the fact that uncertainty levels are bound to remain high while such power brokers remain in major elections. Indeed the unpredictability of  Trump's policies is such an example, with the recent tariff threats which have subsequently escalated market concerns about a trade war being one. At a time when global central banks are moving towards an unprecedented era of tightening and dealing with years of massive asset purchases, risks from rising populist support has the ability to seriously disturb the prevailing equilibrium of the last few years and subsequently markets.

While Reid notes that this is more of a slow burning issue over the next few years, he concedes that populism remains the biggest threat "to the post-1980 globalisation/liberalism world order." But the biggest risk, of course, is that the last time populism and populist anger was this high, the world was wrapped in a war that killed tens of millions of people. One wonders what happens this time when the biggest distraction ever created for mass consumption: the idea of paper wealth and unbooked profits - evaporates following the next market crash, and how many millions will die as a result. One thing is certain: the global drums of war have not beaten louder in almost a century.