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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Between obsession and frustration

By: Dr Matevž Tomšič

The desire of the ruling group to control the national radio and television has turned into a real obsession. It seems that this is something that Prime Minister Golob and the entire government pay more attention to than all the key problems of Slovenian society. Problems related to insufficient medical capacity, which results in scandalously long waiting times for certain medical interventions, and some citizens are without a personal physician at all; or the deterioration of the living standards of certain groups of the population, such as pensioners, are obviously of secondary importance to them.

Even before the elections, those who now govern us announced that “regulating the situation” at the national election would be one of their priorities. Already a month after the formation of the government, a new law on this public media institution, prepared by a civil society connected to left-wing politics, was submitted to the procedure. They were counting on a kind of “blitzkrieg” for a quick takeover. But they failed. First, their enactment prevented the filing of a request for a referendum. The government side won on this, but an even more serious test followed, when an initiative was brought to the Constitutional Court to assess the constitutionality of this law. Its implementation was stopped by the court. And it is quite possible that the law will eventually fail. The balance of power between the constitutional judges is not exactly in favour of the government, especially not after the elimination of two judges who are strongly in favour of it. Thus, the national leadership is still “in the saddle”, which is not to the liking of the current authorities.

Hence the frustrations that the Prime Minister openly and publicly talks about. He wants control over public radio and television because he cannot stand that the media, which still has a great influence on public opinion, should report critically on him. Admittedly, no politician wants this, but Golob’s aversion to unsympathetic opinions is particularly pronounced (more so than, for example, Janša, who is constantly accused by leftists of intolerance towards dissenters). Thus, he does not answer the journalists’ unpleasant questions – even those from the national team – even though he should have explained many things, especially regarding his activities when he was the head of the state-owned company GEN-I – for example, regarding the account in his name in Romania, whereby his explanation of identity theft is (to put it mildly) on rather “shaky ground”. Moreover, “Taking over the national TV” is something he has promised his political godfathers and followers. They expected quick results from him, but so far, they are nowhere to be found.

Due to obvious frustrations, the leading representatives of the coalition are losing their temper. Thus, they constantly put pressure on the Constitutional Court to rule as soon as possible (in favour of the government, of course). For example, the President of the Parliament requested to see the court file, even though she has absolutely no authority to do so. Even worse pressures, which sometimes even escalate into (in)direct threats, are received by the management of public radio and television. At a rally organised by the striking part of the journalists, the Minister of Culture openly called on him to resign. Can you imagine her predecessor doing something like that? The majority media would “crucify” him, and we would hear alarming voices from Brussels about the political subjugation of the media. Prime Minister Golob even threatened the leaders of the national TV with criminal proceedings, saying that they will be “accountable” for their actions. This is strongly reminiscent of the Serbian autocrat Slobodan Milošević, who threatened his opponents that they would be “arrested and punished” (he then carried out these threats). And then was Janša supposed to be a “dictator”, as left-wing activists and the media labelled him (although he never allowed himself to be anything like that)?

It is advantageous for the ruling set that the mainstream media is relatively lenient towards their outbursts for the time being; this also applies to the national TV, where part of the journalists are in direct contact with them. However, this can end when it is realised that their “expiry date” has passed.

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