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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Freedom with the right purpose

By: Peter Jančič

The message from today’s elections will not be pleasant for the ruling party. Despite their efforts in recent weeks, including shameful abuses of power to influence voters, it is already clear that after two years, Svoboda will not be able to repeat what it achieved in the last parliamentary elections when it trampled all competitors with a huge advantage. They have squandered that.

Among the frauds to regain their former glory, an interesting one involved Urška Klakočar Zupančič, who abolished the deadlines prescribed by the rules of procedure for advisory referendums so that the deputies of Svoboda, SD, and the Levica could recognise Palestine just before the elections.

Rules are defined by me

With the statement, “as the president of the National Assembly, I will ensure that all legal institutes are used in accordance with their purpose,” she showed that we live in a very special freedom defined by the largest party and not by law. She could afford this because they have a large majority in parliament, and in the legal system, there is no legal protection for violations of the rules of procedure that grossly humiliate the opposition and all the people it represents.

With the same trick, when the parliament was led by Milan Brglez, Janez Janša was deprived of his seat in parliament. The law on deputies did not provide for legal protection, and they counted on destroying him before anyone could close this loophole. But they miscalculated because the constitutional court decided to ensure legal protection for the opposition leader itself, then unanimously overturned the decision led by Brglez as an abuse of power and a violation of the law. The judges restored Janša’s stolen mandate.

Police come to your door, throw you out of your job, censor already published texts, initiate procedures to throw you in jail.

Such frauds are rewarding for violators in the political system. Brglez gained and ensured the continuation of his career among the radicals on the left. He eventually moved to SD from the now-defunct SMC. In today’s elections, this career could temporarily end, as surveys indicate that SD will get only one mandate and no longer two, and Brglez is not at the top of the list. But surprises are always possible in elections, and Brglez can still use his “achievements” from the past against Matjaž Nemec if he surpasses him with preferential votes.

Klakočar Zupančič’s explanations that her violation of the rules of procedure was necessary because SDS abused the institute of the advisory referendum to postpone the vote on Palestine to after the elections were completely nonsensical. The opposition cannot achieve anything other than postponement. In recent months, the ruling party has rejected a whole bunch of advisory referendums proposed by the opposition, but quickly called their own to attract additional voters to the elections. This was indeed an abuse. Today, we voters are filling out an expensive survey on matters that the ruling parties, which have a decisive majority, could have legislated a long time ago. The most obvious abuse is the vote on euthanasia. Just a few months ago, Svoboda’s deputies rejected euthanasia in parliament. Later, they called a referendum where today voters decide whether Svoboda’s rejection was foolish. If the majority votes for euthanasia, it would be a severe defeat for Svoboda.

It is dangerous to be a journalist

But since we have somewhat special media, no one will reliably address these topics in this way. The ruling party is given leniency. The media is very critical of SDS and Janša. The reason for this is not just the influence the government has on the media. There is more to it: it is dangerous to criticise the ruling party because the police come to your door, as they did to Boris Tomašič in recent weeks, you get fired (they have done this to me twice), your already published texts are censored, and they initiate procedures to throw you in jail, as they did against the editor-in-chief of Planet TV, Uroš Urbanija.

Urbanija has also been a victim of political purges in the media several times, including the well-known case where Borut Meško died shortly after the politically appointed director of the state STA, Bojan Veselinovič, dismissed him as editor and then threw him out on the street.

It is dangerous to be an editor and a journalist. Much has been said in Slovenia about censorship to conceal criticism of the government and media abuse, and it has often been criticised. However, we have never seen such a concrete and clear example as we have during the government of Robert Golob.

I am glad that despite all the abuses and pressures, the bloc of parties opposing the West and NATO and wanting to take us back to a world where fundamental freedoms of people, including freedom of speech and the press, are not respected, is not gaining strength in the European elections. We were already there. Closer to Russia and Iran. Or at least to Belgrade. Where people’s freedoms “may only be used in accordance with their purpose”.

What is allowed is determined by the authorities of Urška Klakočar Zupančič.

In elections, we decide what kind of leaders and what kind of future we want. Therefore, go vote today. It is important that we choose leaders who can lead us forward and not backward and who set an example.

People have also died for this freedom. Even here, when we were gaining independence. And people are dying today in Ukraine. And they are dying for it in Israel and Gaza in a terrible conflict.

For the freedom that others will not determine what is allowed to be said, written, or done.

Let’s use this freedom. Let’s protect it. At the polling station.

Editorial Note from Demokracija: The column was originally published on the Spletni časopis portal before the elections or the announcement of their results. The message to protect freedom applies to all future elections as well.

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