In the coming months, Slovenia faces both presidential and local elections, and three referendums, on which the opposition is building its political survival.
Since the parliamentary elections this spring, 2022 is turning out to be a super-election year for Slovenia, in which political parties repeatedly weigh the power ratio. On the one hand, we have a stable government of three left-liberal parties, and on the other, there’s the opposition, which for now seems trapped beyond reality.
The majority of Slovenian citizens clearly feel the opposition isn’t offering an alternative. The April parliamentary elections confirmed this. The opposition, led by Janez Jansa, insists that he is the victim of a “deep state” conspiracy. Virtually all opposition political decisions seem to be the result of the mental state of one man who insists that communists are still ruling Slovenia through what he calls a “parallel mechanism”.
The opposition write books and produce films and establish newspapers, TVs and web portals to support this theory. The purpose of these tools is to address audiences that are not able to collect and systematically process all relevant information in the field of politics. It involves addressing a group of the most uneducated people who are functionally illiterate when it comes to making informed political decisions.
The functionality of such a political strategy is thus linked to a relationship with voters who, instead of facing reality, resort to an environment where they feel safe and a world that they have formed of their own free will – a world that answers all their desires, needs and frustrations.
The central problem is that the opposition’s policies, however unreal, won’t disappear overnight. Such policies must be opposed. With the bitterness of the never-accepted electoral defeat in the April parliamentary elections, the opposition continues on the same path, with the same rhetoric, spreading nonsense in public about stolen elections, corrupt civil society, evil NGOs, false central media, a communist conspiracy, the “deep state” and cultural Marxism. They don’t accept that their reality is a parallel reality.
Slovenia has, therefore, wound up in a situation where it has an “irresponsible opposition”, as Giovanni Sartori said, which is trying to survive politically through referendums, interpellations and obstruction of work in parliament.
The ruling coalition is left confronting the opposition’s ignorance, which must be isolated and placed outside the mainstream of politics. But this isn’t an easy task, as the personnel promoted by the previous authorities remain deeply anchored in public institutions. The best example of this is the national broadcaster Radio-Television of Slovenia, which Jansa’s staff has been destroying for months, aiming to convince Slovenia of their reality and the conspiracy theories that they’re spreading.
Though otherwise stable, the coalition majority in parliament cannot implement adopted laws because the opposition obstructs them, “to stop the destruction of the country by harmful laws”.
Signatures are currently being collected by the largest opposition party – Jansa’s Slovenian Democrats – for three referenda: on draft amendments to Slovenia’s Government Act, the draft Public Broadcasting Act and on amendments to the Long-Term Care Act.
The 35-day deadline to collect the signatures ends on October 5 and 40,000 signatures must be collected by the proponents of the referenda. The conditions for holding these referenda are likely to be met, however, as the opposition has sufficient mobilisation capacity to collect enough names within the deadline.
The problem is that all the arguments put forward by the opposition to persuade people on the streets to sign the referenda proposals are a naked lie. This isn’t about deliberate lying, but about formulating arguments based on false assumptions. Janša, following the example of similar authoritarian leaders from the region, like Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik or Serbia’s Aleksandar Vuxic, wants to penetrate the mind of the average voters and forcefully convince them of his truth. It is the same recipe that is typical of all authoritarian leaders, who, whether in power or opposition, who all act in the same way.
Democracy is thus losing its basic purpose. Elections and referenda are becoming a farce that does not centre on arguments and ideological differences. It is just a matter of the parties mobilising already-convinced voters. The campaigns of certain parties seem like a nightmare in which the most incompetent individuals present themselves to the public as winners and heroes. It’s a special kind of social pathology in which the main actors enjoy identifying with someone who represents a super-capable individual in the world of their reality.
A further challenge is the presidential elections that are going to be held in an environment where the three parties of the ruling coalition are unable to reach a consensus on a common candidate. Instead of grabbing this opportunity to win the elections together and consolidate their dominance of public opinion, the coalition parties are insisting on “the narcissism of small differences”. They apparently cannot understand that their common opponent is Jansa, who was at the same time the main generator of their success in the spring parliamentary elections. Instead of staging a clear confrontation with policies trapped beyond reality, they fall for the transcendence of differences.
On the other hand, the opposition has two candidates who are entering the competition for president from a position of hypocrisy. The launch presented the parties in the elections with the two candidates (former foreign minister dr. Alže Logar (SDS) and former minister of labor Janez Cigler Kralj (New Slovenia – Nsi) who had been ministers in the past Jansa’s government and who had implemented his wrong policies.
This level of hypocrisy is a recipe for ultimate failure, yet all of the opposition parties’ activities are aimed only at mobilizing their own voters, with no real chance of their candidates reaching 50 per cent plus 1 vote in the final round, which, according to the majority electoral system, is required to win the presidential elections.
Unlike the left-liberal parties of the coalition government, the populist right-wing opposition is aware that no election is held in a vacuum, which means that the success of a party in one election is linked to its future destiny. The referenda and presidential elections, which the opposition is likely to lose, are a good springboard for the local elections, which are expected to take place at the end of November. In this context, the populist right, also at a local level, will tie its electoral success to the imposition of the most improbable conspiracy theories, and to hypocrisy towards all democratic institutions and mechanisms in the country.
For this reason, Slovenia is in a crunch. For the time being, the coalition is incapable of responding to the opposition’s policy, which is based on pure contradiction to all humanist principles. Time is running out, the citizens are dissatisfied. The coalition that won the elections must implement the commitments it made to the people before the elections, with more determination.
Such a strategy would be a good starting point for the current coalition parties to maintain the voters’ loyalty until the next elections. This is good both for the parties of the coalition and for the state of Slovenia or citizens who are constantly losing confidence in politics due to their high volatility. The past term has clearly shown to whom such a scenario benefits – the destructive forces of the populist right, who wish to make Slovenia a private greenhouse in which they could cultivate corruption, racism, chauvinism and homophobia.
So, Slovenia awaits a hot political autumn, when it will be necessary to communicate very clearly – and to differentiate between who is the real alternative and who is merely wandering, trapped beyond reality, in a world dominated by people without scruples.