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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Slovenia, now it is your turn!

By: Gašper Blažič

The reason I am commenting on the analysis of the European Parliament election results only ten days after the event is primarily because there were many “full heads” on election night. From euphoria to fog. Above all, there was a lot of talk about a European “shift to the right”. But did it really happen?

Currently, it is very difficult to make a comparison with the previous mandate period, as Google “turned off” the comparison scheme after a week, and it takes a lot of effort to collect the data “manually” and then compare it. For now, it is clear only that the European People’s Party (EPP) has at least slightly advanced compared to the 2019 elections, which is somewhat surprising, as there was a lot of disappointment with the actions of the European Commission in the last mandate. The group of European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), to which the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni belongs, has strengthened, the socialists (S&D) have lost somewhat, but the liberals (Renew) and the Greens of Europe have taken a slap. If we estimate roughly, Europe has voted “less left” this time, but for major changes, it is still “not right enough”.

The EPP, however, has a problem, namely the “lead candidate”, the current President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, who will apparently repeat her mandate. Slovenian MEPs from the EPP are unanimous that many things went wrong in the previous “five-year period”, after all, von der Leyen allowed the political behaviour of one of her deputies, but mainly she gave in to the leftist agenda in the fields of ecology, migration, and woke ideology. As is known, on the election night, Ursula von der Leyen quickly forgot what she promised before the elections and announced the continuation of the coalition connection with the socialists, Greens, and liberals. This, of course, put all the elected EPP MPs (including Slovenians), who advocated for a different Europe, in a very awkward position. For now, as events in Brussels show, the only option for balanced policy is that the lower number of leftist MPs in the European Parliament means less influence of the left and Brussels bureaucracy. Janez Janša rightly pointed out yesterday the possibility that if the EPP persists with the current coalition model, it will split into several factions and that in this case, a new conservative group closer to the ECR than to the “left wing” of the EPP would develop in the European Parliament.

One thing is clear: Ursula von der Leyen can indeed secure another term as head of the European Commission, the central government of the EU – after all, the leadership of the EPP, including its president Manfred Weber, speaks of supposed unified support. However, this time she will be in a significantly more difficult position, as some EPP members might withdraw their support. The days when parliamentary groups collectively bowed to “gods” are irrevocably over. For instance, Orban’s party has not joined any existing political groups after exiting the EPP. Interestingly, (Slovenian) mainstream media portrays the ECR as “far-right”, despite there being an even more right-wing identity group in the European Parliament. This portrayal is mainly due to the fear that the future composition of the European Commission might lean more to the right. However, the composition heavily depends on which parties govern the individual member states. Notably, von der Leyen aims to delay the rule of law report on Italy solely to gain Rome’s support for her second term as head of the Commission. This means that the shifts in power dynamics within the European Parliament cannot be ignored. And this is encouraging news for Europe.

What about Slovenia? One swallow does not make a summer. The results of the European elections generally have no direct impact on the internal political situation in Slovenia. Except perhaps that the results confirmed what we have known all along: that the Golob government, after two years, has left behind a catastrophe that will be hard to repair. After all, even President Nataša Pirc Musar recently acknowledged this, but we must be cautious here, as Pirc Musar often says what Milan Kučan really thinks. However, as long as Zoran Janković has control over Golob, the latter will remain in power. It is clear that there will be no preliminary elections, at least not as quickly as in France, where President Emmanuel Macron is trying to repair the disaster his party experienced in the European elections. We can invoke the values of European democracy, but this is Slovenia, and different rules apply. The ruling transitional left is currently too vulnerable to expose itself in elections and will wait for a more favourable opportunity, when a new “new face” is ready, and perhaps another new scandal, with which they can again “dunk” the opposition under the water in public opinion. Certainly, the rise in support for SLS, which could cross the parliamentary threshold in the next national elections and strengthen the spring camp, is also very unfavourable for the transitional left.

One thing is clear: the current government will not last until the regular elections in the spring of 2026; it will likely be “dismantled” a year earlier. Obviously, Prime Minister Golob is well aware of this and already “does not care”, as evidenced by his nonchalant practice of prioritising his private needs and asserting that he will not sit at the negotiating table before September, despite the escalating strikes by doctors and civil servants. His arrogance suggests that he is trying to exploit the current situation for his own benefit, risking an increasing rift within the coalition, which will try to stay together only out of panic over Janez Janša.

If we make a brief analysis of the election results on June 9th, we can see that several actors in the current parliamentary and government politics will move from Ljubljana to Brussels. For example, Branko Grims, a longtime SDS deputy, NSi president Matej Tonin, and the current defence minister Marjan Šarec. Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič, who was elected on the Vesna list, will likely repeat the success of Igor Šoltes ten years ago, who convinced part of the public with the instant party Verjamem – and then disappeared after a few years. The election of Zala Tomašič, by far the youngest Slovenian MEP to date, who ran a completely new and original campaign, has already unnerved some leftists, as they realise that they have little chance of success in direct contact with people, since they have so far only addressed the public through mainstream media. Therefore, it will be interesting to observe what “damage control” will occur in the coming weeks and how quickly the godfathers will send the Gibanje Svoboda party to the political junkyard, just as they did with Positive Slovenia, Cerar’s SMC, LMŠ, SAB, and others in the past. And, of course, establish “something new” that will seem completely fresh. Although we have become quite accustomed to these tricks over the past twenty years, many Slovenians still fall for it – thinking, we were disappointed with Positive Slovenia, Cerar, Šarec, Bratušek, and Golob, but now… now it will really be different. If you are ready to continue “blessing” the Venezuelanisation of healthcare and high taxes, go ahead. But not at the expense of others, please!

Slovenia, rise! Now it is your turn for change!

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