By: Dr. Andreja Valič Zver
As the battle for the position of the President of the Republic of Slovenia became more and more heated, my mind wanders to 2012, when, in addition to the then President of the Republic of Slovenia Danilo Türk and the former President of the SD and resigned Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor, my husband Milan also competed for this position.
Similar to Dr Jože Pučnik, Barbara Brezigar, or Lojze Peterle before him, as a candidate of the right-wing, spring pole, already at the start of the presidential battle, he lagged behind his opponents by a few “lengths of the track”. And not only because of the so-called damaged mentalities, a weak political culture, and the traditional post-war skewing of the Slovenian electorate to the left. In the given circumstances, Milan defended the then Janša’s government, which had adopted some unpopular measures, especially during the confrontations.
Let me assure you that with the dominant Slovenian majority media, which is waiting for the “right-wing” to stab them and mercilessly dissect their every move, word, deed – not even their families escape this – the decision to run for the presidency is an extremely brave act. I speak from experiences that were mostly heart-warming and inspiring, but at times also bitter, sometimes downright tragicomic. Let me mention just one of them: while they wrote eulogies about the wife of the then president, they called me “poisoned by the past”. Of course, among other things, they “investigated” my spouse and my finances and property with filigree precision. Every possible “mistake” was frowned upon. Of course, in 2022, in relation to the tycoon assets of the current presidential candidate and her husband, they no longer dare to do so. That is how it goes.
I am not ranting; I am just telling you that things are not pleasant for the candidates and their families from the “right”. But as the wife of a politician from the spring pole, I got used to life under the scrutiny of the Slovenian public, as well as to unjustified dirty attacks from the left and “conditionally from the right”, which, last but not least, belongs to the story. And Slovenian stories are particularly tragic. There is no need to remind you of the fate of Janez Janša and his family, not to mention Jože Pučnik, Ljubo Sirc, Angela Vode and countless others who suffered severely from the regime’s violence. Many injustices have not been settled even today…
Well, you know the end of the 2012 presidential story. In February 2012, Milan, together with his political family – both “his” SDS and NSi supported him, while SLS did not warm to this joint project – as well as his immediate and extended family bravely went into battle. Until November 2012, there were daily battles at the front, which required a lot of energy, wisdom, and dedication from all of us. At the presidential “Olympics”, Milan and the team did our best, invested our knowledge, experience, and sincere commitment to democratic values.
Unfortunately, it was not enough to make it to the second round, where the candidate of the Kučan’s interest circle and the potential harbinger of modern social-democratic twists then measured their strength. Fortunately, the latter won, and in his first and second terms, he also changed some of the previously cemented paradigms. Despite many – intentional and unintentional – clumsiness, he cannot be denied credit for the movements in the field of reconciliation, respectful attitude towards the creator of the independent Slovenian state, Jože Pučnik, diplomatic initiatives, and much more.
Today, political analysts are quite unanimous in stating that in November 2012, many right-wing voters already voted “tactically” in the first round of the presidential election, mainly with the aim of expelling the unpopular Danilo Türk from the presidential palace. The intention succeeded and the “lesser evil” won, to use the popular term. After the lost match, Milan continued his successful career as a member of the European Parliament, where he did a lot of good for Slovenia and Europe. But this will be written about in the future, and history will judge it, as it should. Now is the time to “straighten our bent spines”, as Pučnik wrote. Now is the time to say, “enough is enough”, go to the polls and vote for a man who has proven himself through his work for democratic values and will continue Pučnik’s paradigm of creating a better Slovenian country.
Let me conclude my thoughts with a sincere wish that Slovenia finally elects a president from the spring pole and enters the sunny side of history. Kučan’s paradigm will certainly not take us there. But it can plunge us into the darkness and cold of some other times, which we have already suffered, and we really do not want to repeat. But there is so little to get there… Therefore: Anže, endure this match until the end, send the opponents to the corner and win!