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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Robert and Tina in Dallas, but at home, nervousness after Janša’s victory

By: Peter Jančič

After the European elections, which Robert Golob declared a victory due to high turnout, the Prime Minister did not travel to the peace conference for Ukraine, which he had announced to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

President Nataša Pirc Musar had to go to Switzerland, suddenly postponing all her obligations. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister personally attended the NBA finals game in Dallas. He announced it like this:

“I have dreamed my whole life of watching the NBA finals, and today I am going to cheer for Luka in Dallas.”

In Dallas, the Prime Minister, who needs to find a new defence minister because Marjan Šarec, although Svoboda party performed poorly in the elections and only won two seats, was elected by voters from the bottom of the list, did not travel alone. Tina Gaber was not left in Ljubljana. That would have been ugly. On the Facebook page of the Prime Minister’s partner, a photo was posted from the game in the USA, where Luka Dončić’s Dallas lost for the third time in a row, which no team has done in the finals recently.

Tina Gaber and Robert Golob in the USA – Photo from Tina Gaber’s Facebook page.

However, the Dallas Mavericks won for the first time in four attempts against Boston over the weekend, and a victory in the finals is still theoretically possible.

At home, there is nervousness and despondency

Golob left for the USA right after Janez Janša’s victory in the European elections once again proved that he can return to power after losing it. Not for the first time. Peter Gregorčič from SLS, along with Zala Tomašič (SDS), was the biggest surprise of this election on the right. The former vice-president of the National Assembly, Romana Tomc, who in the previous elections surpassed the list leader Milan Zver with preferential votes, this time justified her position as the leader of the strongest party’s list.

After this SDS victory, we could observe the despondent coalition partners of the Prime Minister. Before the European elections, SD tried to bring down Svoboda with the courthouse affair to boost themselves, which was reported by Golob’s Necenzurirano. The entire top of the party resigned. Matjaž Nemec, who narrowly surpassed NSi by just a few hundred votes and barely secured his survival, sharply criticised Golob and Svoboda on Tarča show, stating that with such actions, they would certainly bring Janša back to power. A harsher criticism from the left is not possible. It is like when Dejan Židan once criticised Šarec, stating that he was incompetent, one of the new faces who, as he wrote, “in all governments proved unable to complete projects and mandates”.

NSi, led by its president Matej Tonin in the European elections, barely managed to secure a seat, like SD. With the seat they gained, along with SDS’s four mandates, they ensured a majority for the right. After the elections, Tonin was able to remain calmer on Tarča than the president of the completely defeated Levica, Asta Vrečko, whose privileged position in the media, where they had installed their own personnel through purges, did not help her. Five years ago, when the EU list of Levica was led by Violeta Tomić, they received 6.4% of the votes. This time, with Nataša Sukič at the top, they received 4.7%. Moreover, as Miha Kordiš pointed out, they did not save money and spent one hundred thousand euros for just under 32,000 voters.

Asta Vrečko responded to Miha Kordiš on Tarča about the number of voters, saying that the party gathered “absolutely more than they had in the presidential elections, where Miha Kordiš was the candidate”. This is true when it comes to the number of votes. Kordiš received 24,518 votes in the presidential elections, which is less than the 31,801 votes for the Levica list this week. However, his campaign cost 8,494 euros, which is much less than the one hundred thousand euros spent now.

Presidential elections, results

The star moment of the week was undoubtedly when Tonin calmed the angry president of the defeated Levica, Vrečko, on Tarča to prevent her from having a stroke as she boasted about how they were suddenly solving taxpayers’ housing problems with taxpayers’ money.

In the elections, Levica significantly lagged behind SLS and Peter Gregorčič, who were prematurely removed from the top of the RTVS programme council last year by Svoboda, SD, and Levica through a purge to secure their directors and editors and thus advantages during the campaigns. We observed these advantages on Tarča, where Levica and Vrečko appeared frequently, but SLS and Gregorčič did not. Gregorčič, with 32,035 preferential votes, convinced more voters on his own than the entire Levica with 31,801 votes (not yet including votes from abroad).

After SLS achieved a 7.7% share and Levica 4.7%, Gregorčič and SLS face a dilemma: whether they are already working towards parliamentary elections to contribute to a victory and takeover of power by the right. Typically, at least three successful parties are needed in elections to form a government. And success is not the result of work done in the last few days before the elections. Gregorčič also faces a personal dilemma: whether he will become a real politician by taking over SLS, which is not without risks in SLS, or remain a professor who was a victim of the government’s ruthless media purge. SLS President Marko Balažic will also need to decide how to help achieve a breakthrough.

Amid Svoboda’s continued media manipulations, SDS MPs protested and walked out of the inaugural session of the investigative commission for the 200,000-euro transfers involving Golob, Klemen Boštjančič, and others to Vesna Vuković’s company, which began when she was still working for the state-owned Siol.net with Primož Cirman. Svoboda prevented this investigation for two years through a silent agreement with NSi, granting them leadership of the commissions on public finance oversight and intelligence service oversight, and allowing them some positions at the top of state companies. However, the investigation will proceed because it was finally demanded by the National Council. The turning point came after Svoboda dismissed Valentin Hajdinjak from the top of DARS. To prevent thorough investigation, if they could not stop it entirely, Svoboda appointed their MP Tomaž Lah to lead it. SDS proposed Lah as a witness this week to help clarify, as described by MP Žan Mahnič (SDS) for POP TV, how Gen I’s business dealings with Necenzurirano media operated, how General Secretary Vesna Vuković received 200,000 euros, and whether this money was then used to finance the Gibanje Svoboda party.

Mahnič was similarly removed as a witness by Svoboda two years ago from the investigative commission, which was long led by Mojca Pašek Šetinc to oversee right-wing media until Golob expelled her from the party for criticising the transfer of two million euros to Šarec against POP TV. Since Lah, despite having to testify, still led the commission this week, SDS protested and walked out of the session. Mahnič also pointed out to POP TV: “It is obvious that they do not want Tomaž Modic, Primož Cirman, and Vesna Vuković to come to the investigative commission and explain how the Necenzurirano media is financed. All of this is for one purpose only. Because they are protecting this corruption. Because they are obviously protecting this mafia that is stealing state money. We have these suspicions, and we want to clarify them. And one more thing: the fact that the Gibanje Svoboda itself wanted to lead the investigative commission that is investigating them says a lot. They want to hide, they want to cover up, and they do not want things to be clarified.”

And also Šuštaršič’s censorship for Vuković and Golob

Meanwhile, Mihael Šuštaršič, the editor of Siol.net, who was appointed to the top by Vuković after the purge at SDH and Telekom with Golob, once again denied that he censored my column when he took over the editorial office from me. He only “removed” it. In that column, I pointed out that Luka Mesec was not truthful about not attending Fotopub parties, described a series of unusual and very personal connections between journalists and ruling politicians, and mentioned unusual payments from Golob’s GEN-I to Vesna Vuković, when Necenzurirano journalists were still working at Siol.net through their additional private company contracts. Among other things, this disappeared from Siol.net:

“Why? In this case, we are in a situation as if Manca Krnel on TVS were reporting on Luka Mesec’s complications in the Smodej case and vehemently accusing others of vile setups, while TVS would conceal from people that this so-called independent journalist is an intimate partner of Luka Mesec, checking Mesec’s side of the story right in bed. Or, as if Primož Cirman were reporting on the 103,000 euros that Robert Golob transferred to a company once founded and led by Necenzurirano journalist Vesna Vuković, on TVS, without informing the public that he is the husband of the former RTVS journalist Petra Bezjak Cirman, whom Golob has meanwhile employed as the head of Ukom, and Vuković as the head of PR for his Svoboda Party…”

Šuštaršič “withdrew” the column without informing me. When I noticed and pointed out the censorship, he claimed he did it because allegedly the content intruded upon privacy, revealing that TV host Sašo Krajnc, who resisted reporting on the planned purges in the public broadcaster RTVS (which editor Gregor Repovž of Mladina also publicly demanded), had personal ties to former colleague Toni Tovornik, whom Asta Vrečko was just appointing as the general secretary of the Ministry of Culture. The ethics committee of a journalist association known to be supportive of the current government ruled that Šuštaršič acted correctly in censoring the column, arguing that the public should not know about the journalist’s connection to a government official because it is a private matter between Krajnc and Tovornik.

Moreover, even if that were true, Šuštaršič should have only removed the names of Krajnc and Tovornik from the column and at most issued an explanation that he did so to protect privacy at the request of a certain law firm. People have the right to know. If he had informed me before acting, I would have handled it professionally as an editor. However, he could not do that because there was no request for privacy protection or correction at all. I know this because the column was published when I was still the responsible editor. Obviously, the pressure for withdrawal was of a different nature, perhaps for entirely different reasons, as everything was withdrawn. Thus, the dilemma remains: what is so private about criticising Robert Golob’s payments to Vesna Vuković’s company when she was still a journalist at Siol.net that it must be hidden from the public? What was so private about the bizarre ruling of the journalists’ association’s ethics committee regarding Janković’s pharmacist Katarina Ravnikar, whose name Nika Kovač also demanded not to be written about, even though she unsuccessfully sued a detective in court? And what was so private about Luka Mesec’s visits to Fotopub parties that it had to be concealed, especially when he publicly spoke untruths?

The reasons are very likely the same as those for parliament not yet investigating payments to Vuković’s company, which Primož Cirman ultimately liquidated.

If these things come to light, it ends in elections for those who abuse their positions, power, and authority, just as it did in the European elections for the Levica, Social Democrats, and Svoboda.

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