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Friday, April 12, 2024

Goats, gorillas, and this government’s communication

By: Edvard Kadič

Communication as a concept is often used as a scapegoat in political battles and wars. The term “scapegoat” comes from the Bible. It means a person or thing that is wrongfully accused of something. Basically, it is a very effective mechanism for managing a situation if you do not have the right answers. You simply shift your attention from the search for solutions to something or someone who, in your opinion, is to blame for the situation. Even if he/it is not. And the reference to communication is even more convenient. You probably know the one: If you had told me otherwise, I would have fixed it a long time ago. Would you really? Do not think that you cannot become a scapegoat because you do not do anything socially important. No one is safe from it. However, the accusation that bad communication is to blame for this or that in the current government is often justified. The drop in support for the government, as recently measured in an opinion poll, is therefore not surprising.

Talk of reforms and their timelines has been so frequent in recent months that it has started ringing in all of our ears. One time the reform will be comprehensive, the second time a little less, and then at the press conference there is only talk about timelines, but nothing concrete about them. Do you remember the famous, but above all, likable promises about thirty days to a specialist? I think that communication strategists at the SD party are often hiccupping with shame today. And the promises of Luka Mesec, the Levica party and then also this government about the construction of apartments. First thirty thousand, then the number dropped to two thousand, at the press conference the Prime Minister corrected Mesec that it is three thousand. Interesting, nothing else. Even otherwise, the Prime Minister likes to surprise us with his confidence in communication and promises that he will communicate everything himself. People “bought” him as credible in the run-up to the election, and it is a wave he is still riding. However, today his support among people is falling precisely in this area. It turns out that he is not very good at running a country either. Confusion in promises, predictions and implementation is increasing, and there is not much material for real communication. However, if you have nothing to communicate, your excellent communication skills are of little use. What is the use of flattery, promises and even a good performance if you cannot deliver what you promised. Do you still remember how easily he promised during the pre-election period how he would change everything? And in a few months? What about an allowance for firefighters, a “happy ending” with 600 euros for judges? He just as easily promised to “clean up” RTV Slovenia, reform the tax legislation, and regulate the health care system. The ease with which he took over the responsibility of communicating the health reform from Bešič Loredan and a few days ago also the tax reform from Minister Klemen Boštjančič is almost unbelievable.

Unfortunately, today, a year after the election victory, there is not much of all these promises. In fact, it is rather the other way around or worse. Food prices in stores are literally going wild, bills in restaurants have grown by at least 20 to 30 percent in a year. Why did he bring into the government people who do not enjoy any public support (Šarec, Bratušek, etc.) and complete operational illiterates, such as e.g., Stojmenova Duh, Mesec, Maljevac, etc., will remain unknown until further notice. We will not even lose words about Svoboda’s choice for President of the National Assembly, Urška Klakočar Zupančič. The visit to Rwanda and Uganda really resonates. Unfortunately, not because of diplomatic successes, but because of the appearance of “parliamentary tourism” and the negative reactions of the domestic public that such an appearance causes. The moment talking about the gorilla became the central theme of a visit to Africa, all alarms should have gone off. It is a fringe topic that usually does not even make it into the public eye.

Unfortunately, amidst all of this, we can conclude that this ruling is not exactly handling it well. The “antijanša” programme has been implemented and people are waiting for something concrete to be put on the table. That everyone will live better, not only the chosen ones close to the government. Discontent among the people is growing due to the ineffectiveness of the government. At the same time, the awareness that such inefficiency will cost Slovenia dearly. If a year ago we noted that there was no significant difference between prices in Italy, Hungary, and Slovenia, today the difference is more and more obvious. Theatre with price lists of the so-called grocery basket is really absurd. The government claims that the basket is valued, but people at the border more and more often shop for smaller and smaller grocery purchases, they go across the border. The departures of companies (e.g., Magna) will affect us in the long term, where the price of this government’s inefficiency will be measured in years and years behind developed Europe. This, of course, means millions and millions of euros for lost jobs, as well as for reorganisations, studies, coordination, and other “novelties” with which you cover the fact that you have no idea what to do as a minister.

Of course, government communication can be a problem, and it is from time to time. Especially in the confusion of the messages that the government puts out to the public. However, the much bigger problem is that there is not much to communicate. That it is about free running and relying on it to be what it will be. There will definitely be a salary for the chosen ones, but we will see about pensions.

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