Ljubljana related

15 Nov 2018, 13:00 PM

STA, 14 November 2018 - A majority of voters in Ljubljana may dislike the incumbent mayor or his uncompromising and often dodgy leadership style, yet Zoran Janković is likely to win his fourth term in office by a landslide on Sunday, even though his closest challenger is a rising star of the party that won this year's general election.

The latest poll commissioned by Dnevnik, the newspaper focused on Ljubljana, gives Janković a 56% to 18% edge ahead of Anže Logar, the candidate of the Democratic Party (SDS) who enjoys unanimous endorsement from all right-wing parties.

With almost 20% respondents still undecided, the other eight contenders are far behind. While turnout projections are not available, the trends suggest it will likely fall further below the 36% recorded in the 2014 mayoral election in Ljubljana.

Like the last time around, it appears that many of Janković's opponents will vote with their feet, in particular left-wing voters who would not want to benefit the opposing bloc's candidate by supporting one of the contenders from the left.

Former head of Mercator who revitalised the city, while accused of corruption

Janković, a 65-year-old Serbian-born economist who first made a name for himself as chief executive of Slovenia's largest retailer Mercator, has been campaigning on what he says is a proven track-record, a series of projects that his team implemented over the past 12 years.

Even his opponents will give him the credit for the makeover given to the centre of the capital city, large sections of which have been taken over by pedestrians and cyclists. The greening of public spaces and steps taken in green mobility earned Ljubljana the title of the European Green Capital in 2016.

By tapping into EU funds, the city has renovated and expanded its public infrastructure, schools and kindergartens, and acquired new sports and cultural infrastructure, modernised the country's biggest waste management facility, and committed to a zero-waste and zero road traffic fatality goals.

However, Janković has been facing recurring allegations of corruption, cronyism and shady ways in which the city has been awarding contracts to private partners. He has also been reproached for his autocratic, know-it-all style of leadership and unwillingness to give an ear to those who object to his plans.

With a series of criminal cases open against him, Janković is about to be put on trial over alleged EU funds abuse in the flagship project of his first term, the construction of the Stožice sports complex. The half-built mall attached to it has been falling into ruin.

While the Ljubljana centre is sparkling bright after the facelift, its central coach and train station are hardly fit for a capital city. The public transportation system is not efficient enough and too many people still resort to cars for their commute with up to 100,000 cars driving into Ljubljana daily.

Ljubljana's tourism has been booming, but skyrocketing property prices and rents are making the city increasingly unaffordable for residents, not least because new construction is targeting high-end buyers.

A recent study by the Institute of Spatial and Housing Policies showed that residential construction in Ljubljana had been seriously outpaced by population growth, and pointed to an acute shortage of social housing.

A recurrent piece of criticism is that Janković has been neglecting the city beyond the centre, although he says that of the 2,000 projects implemented, 1,700 have been in the outer boroughs.

Opponent focuses on healthcare, traffic and corruption

Anže Logar, for eight years the mayor's major antagonist in the city council, has placed reduction of waiting times in primary healthcare in the centre of his platform. Campaigning under the motto Cure Ljubljana, he is also promising to rid the city of corruption and traffic bottlenecks.

While the city does not have the power to expand the network of health service providers, Logar proposes it should buy health services on the market for the benefit of residents. He is also promising a modernisation of the public transport system, smart traffic lights and free bus rides for pensioners.

"If until now we have been hearing about the supposedly the most beautiful city - the centre is pretty indeed - we'll be hearing more about the best city from now on," Logar said, promising to make Ljubljana exceptional not only for tourists but also for those who live in it.

Logar, who has been backed by a series of civil initiatives that have been fighting against Janković's grand development plans, is also promising a participatory budget and more say to the city's boroughs. Participatory budget is also being advocated by Dragan Matić, who runs for the Modern centre Party (SMC).

Janković says that if the city followed people's sentiment it would have never closed the city centre to traffic and that no one would agree to have a waste management facility or a park-and-ride facility in their backyard.

After hosting a campaign debate between Logar and Janković, Dnevnik noted that even though many of Logar's ideas may appeal to the centre-left electorate, few will trust him that he would in fact deliver better than the current mayor, who knows the city inside out.

Janković never neglects to remind the people of Ljubljana that Logar's party took away millions from the city during its two stints in the government and that as SDS MP Logar voted against a bill that would secure more funds for the capital.

Logar, a 42-year-old who rose to prominence as the spokesman for the Slovenian presidency of the EU in 2008 and who grilled Janković as the head of a parliamentary inquiry into the 2013 bank bailout, says he had decided to run five years ago.

Even if defeated, the right-leaning Reporter magazine says that Logar has nothing to lose, because the party may reward him with a chance to get elected into European Parliament next year, a job that the weekly says Logar always wanted.

While Janković is looking at a fresh victory, his power in the city council may be further depleted after his list lost an absolute majority by a whisker in 2014. Even if it is not, new councillors from the ranks of left-leaning parties may be less accommodating than his old allies.

All our stories about the local elections can be found here

15 Oct 2018, 16:30 PM

STA, 15 October 2018 - Anže Logar, the Democratic Party's (SDS) candidate for the Ljubljana mayor, formally submitted his bid on Monday, indicating that he would challenge incumbent Zoran Janković by exposing the flaws of his 12-year rule in Ljubljana. 

09 Oct 2018, 14:57 PM

STA, 8 October 2018 - Reporter, the right-leaning magazine, predicts in Monday's commentary that Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković will easily secure another term, but it says the campaign will nevertheless be a battle now that the Democrats (SDS) will field MP Anže Logar. 

27 Sep 2018, 10:20 AM

STA, 26 September 2018 - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković will have to stand trial over alleged EU funds fraud in the Stožice sports complex project after the indictment against him and eight co-defendants has become final. 

15 Sep 2018, 10:57 AM

STA, 14 September 2018 - Zoran Janković has announced he would seek his fourth term as Ljubljana mayor with an investment drive that he says would be "cherry on the cake" of projects that he has brought to fruition in the last twelve years. 

01 Jun 2018, 11:20 AM

STA 1 June 2018 - Six years after the first house searches related to the investigation of allegedly fictitious contracts signed to dupe a bank into granting a loan for the Stožice sports complex in Ljubljana, the prosecution has filed indictments against nine people, including Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, POP TV reported on Thursday. 

13 May 2018, 13:36 PM

STA, 12 May 2018 - An indictment in one of a dozen cases open against Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković has become final; according to a report in Saturday's issue of Delo it concerns a company's donation to the city. 

11 May 2018, 09:53 AM

STA, 9 May 2018 - Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, the head of Positive Slovenia (PS), and head of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) Karl Erjavec have signed an agreement establishing a "left bloc". The main point of the agreement is the commitment that the parties in the bloc will not form a coalition with the centre-right Democrats (SDS). 

25 Apr 2018, 16:52 PM

STA, 25 April 2018 – Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković broke silence about his potential role in the 3 June general election, declaring that he would get involved, but was yet to decide "in what way and how intensely". He was willing to do everything in his power to prevent a victory by Democrat leader Janez Janša. 

29 Jan 2018, 12:18 PM

Janković suspected of demanding 500,000 EUR to allow company to install optic cables. 

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