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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Gibanje Svoboda party against freedom of expression

By: dr Matevž Tomšič

With the Gibanje Svoboda party (Freedom Movement), which rules us at the moment and to whose beat we all (willingly or unwillingly) have to dance, is something similar to what happened with the German Democratic Republic of Germany.

Let’s remember, this was a country that was called East Germany. It was created after the Second World War from the former Soviet occupation zone and was extinguished after the collapse of its communist regime (as a result of German reunification). Despite the sounding name, the reality of life in it was anything but bright, because there was no sign of democracy. The regime was one of the most rigid, dogmatic, and oppressive in the entire Eastern Bloc, and its secret political police, the Stasi, controlled virtually every pore of society through a dense network of collaborators and henchmen. People were not safe even in the circle of their closest relatives. And anyone who resisted the regime was expelled from society.

Even in the case of the largest Slovenian government party, its name, an integral part of which is the word freedom, does not reflect the actual state of mind, as there is little freedom-loving in it. It is just a cleverly chosen marketing slogan, through which its creators managed to attract a mass of voters, tired and frustrated by the prolonged restrictive measures they were subjected to during the covid-19 epidemic. How (little) the leading people of this party actually adhere to freedom is shown by their attitude of publicly expressing the views of those who are critical of their actions. For them, freedom is something that belongs only to themselves and their supporters.

Prime Minister Golob demonstrated his attitude towards freedom of expression even before the elections, when he announced the suspension of certain media. The offensive against the “reckless” media began immediately after the new composition of the parliament, since it established an investigative commission with a complicated name, which was supposed to investigate controversial financing during the election campaign, but its actual – essentially the only – purpose is to settle accounts with otherwise the small number of media houses that are politically close to the right and that systematically criticise left-wing politics.

However, not only “politically inappropriate” media are under pressure, but also concrete individuals who explain in public what certain authorities do not like. Thus, the police recently questioned the well-known psychoanalyst and publicist Roman Vodeb, who was accused by the President of the Parliament, Urška Klakočar Zupančič, because he allegedly treated her “exclusively as a sexual object” in the TV show Faktor, which, according to her, is nothing less than “hate speech” (in addition, she reported the television broadcasting the aforementioned show to AKOS).

Vodeb is an author who often causes public uproar with his controversial views, especially regarding women. The words he used to characterise the behaviour of the aforementioned politician were also quite harsh, but they did not deviate much from everyday public discourse. Some comments could be considered offensive. However, we could already hear significantly worse insults. Let’s just look at what politicians on the right, especially Janez Janša, are being described with. Compared to this, Vodeb’s characterisation of Klakočar Zupanč is quite innocent, especially if we consider her excessive behaviour, which is often not at the level required by her position.

However, our newly composed rulers cannot bear criticism at their expense. They cannot bear the fact that they are constantly in the public eye and that because of the functions they perform, they are judged by others, i.e., stricter than ordinary citizens. Therefore, the limit of permissible expression about their “character and work” is significantly higher. That is just how it is in democracy, the essence of which some of them obviously do not understand.

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