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Home » Elections, Europe, GeoNotes, Population Geography

The Urban/Rural Divide in Slovenia’s Recent Election

Submitted by on April 2, 2012 – 2:45 pm 7 Comments |  
Several recent GeoNotes have emphasized the urban/rural divide in U.S. Republican presidential primary elections. The same pattern is evident elsewhere, and is illustrated in a particularly striking manner in the recent Slovenian Family Code Referendum. The new family law code, which had been passed by the Slovenian Parliament, extended the rights of same-sex couples and prohibited the corporal punishment of children. A conservative group called “Civil Initiative for the Family and the Rights of Children” opposed the law and collected enough signatures to force a referendum. In the resulting contest, the code was defeated, with 55 per cent of voters rejecting it.

The geographical patterns in the vote are clear. The new code was supported in almost all urban areas, and opposed in almost all rural districts. On the Electoral Geography 2.0 map posted here, I have added Slovenian’s largest cities to highlight the urban/rural divide. As can be seen, support for the measure was especially pronounced in Ljubljana, the capital city.  The only other tendency of note is the fact that voters along the southwestern border, an area heavily influenced by Italian culture, tended to support the measure more than those elsewhere in the country.

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  • I suppose a place like Trbovlje could be called comparatively urban, although it has fewer people than most large, American universities have students.  Slovenia has only one city with more people than Peoria, Illinois, so when discussing urban Slovenia, we shouldn’t be thinking of the sort of cosmopolitan metropoleis that term brings to mind, at least to my mind.

    • Excellent point — other than Lubljana, Slovenian’s cities are rather small, in the 30,000–90,000 population range. But in general, small European cities are much more urban in character than cities of the same population in North American. And as the election returns show, middling Slovenian cities tend to vote in a “urban” manner.  

    • Guest

      Trbovlje, and Jesenice (upper left corner of the country) are very industrialized areas, so that may be also a factor

  • Randy McDonald

    I’m not sure that Italian culture is a notable influence–Slovenia has a long, if contested, experience as a gay-friendly place, even back in the SFRY era. A gay film festival dates back to the mid-1980s.

    The southwestern area of Slovenia you highlight is, ultimately, a suburban area of Trieste, but it’s also one of the most developed and densely populated areas of Slovenia besides.

    • Many thanks for the additional information about Slovenia, an often overlooked country noted for its high levels of social development. 

  • jernejec

    Very interesting issue! In 2011, I published an article about the urban-rural cleavage in Slovenia, it can be found on There, I analysed parliamentarly elections results from 1996-2008, and found out that urban-rural shift have increased recently. Geographical patterns of the referendum 2012 posted above is very much the same in comparison with previous ones – regardless the election or referendum issue. More urbanized areas are also considered as more liberal, open-minded (this especially goes for litoral region) and with more educated population.