Slovenians are heading to the polls for a parliamentary election, with an anti-immigrant centre-right party expected to win the most seats.
The central European country is holding its election slightly early, after the outgoing centre-left prime minister Miro Cerar resigned in March.
Mr Cerar stepped down after Slovenia’s supreme court annulled the results of a referendum, in which voters showed support for a €1bn government railway project.
The election would have been held later in June had he not resigned.
Roughly 1.7m eligible voters are selecting candidates from across 25 parties, with the latest opinion polls showing that the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) will gain the most seats.
The party is led by Janez Jansa, who served as Slovenia’s prime minister between 2004 and 2008, and from 2012 to 2013.
His anti-immigrant party is openly supported by Hungary’s nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who as “the strongman of Hungary” has been accused of fuelling xenophobia.
Mr Orban secured victory in Hungary’s election in April on an anti-migrant platform.
The potential for the SDS to win Slovenia’s election comes amid a rise in right-wing populism across Europe.
Polling suggests that the SDS will secure up to 24.5% of the vote, but may not secure the coalition partners needed to form a government.
The SDS may need the support of at least two other parties to gain a majority in the 90-seat parliament.
Analysts believe that it will take at least two months before the new government is formed and that another early election cannot be ruled out.
Meta Roglic, a political analyst from the Slovenian daily newspaper Dnevnik, said: “It seems clear that the SDS will win but everything else about this election is unclear because the question is whether the SDS will be able to form a government coalition.”
Slovenia’s centre-left party The List of Marjan Sarec, which has never run for parliament before, may emerge as the second largest party with roughly 8.2% of the vote.
The party is named after its leader, a former comedian and political satirist.
Otilia Dhand, of political risk advisory firm Teneo Intelligence, said: “Given the volatility of party ratings in recent months the election is an open race and the real winner will be the party that can form a coalition with a majority of seats in a likely highly fragmented parliament.”