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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Slovenia, stand up!

By: Gašper Blažič

It was in the spring of 2019, i.e., four years ago. Still during the Šarec’s government. At that time, our publishing house (Nova obzorja Ltd.) was preparing for the publication of my book, which bears the same title as this column. It was an honour to be able to propose a cover that has strong symbolism. As if to say, it is five minutes to twelve, all the alarms are already ringing, and Slovenia is still strongly “red”. In the background, however, a more attentive observer can recognise the demonstrations from 1994, when the people were agitated by the Depala vas affair.

The book did not attract any media attention, but its presentation at the VSO Museum still attracted a considerable number of people, which was a pleasant surprise. And I have to admit that my otherwise modest contribution to raising people’s awareness was something more than just a book – it was an encouragement to civil society resistance, which would bring about a more permanent liberation of Slovenia. Our biggest problem is not so much that we fall from one transition scam to another, but that the mentality of the majority of the inhabitants of our paradise below Triglav allows this. And to be completely honest, the year the book came out there was no big breakthrough. In the fall of 2019, we had a single rally on Prešeren Square in Ljubljana, but it was also not well attended. But only a little later, the Prime Minister at the time, Marjan Šarec, aware that he was no longer in control of the situation in the government, threw in the towel and announced new preliminary elections, hoping that the LMŠ and SMC would achieve a stronger result in partnership and thus get a more stable coalition. However, things did not go according to plan, a new government was formed on the threshold of a major pandemic. Already the third in a row, led by Janez Janša. At that time, it was clear to me that the book “Slovenia, stand up” would fly off to the dustbin of history.

But not for long. After four years, the cover of the book appears again on social networks. After two large rallies of pensioners, a third is being prepared, which will be a general protest rally. I am actually quite surprised that there has been such a turnaround in people’s minds in this time. If earlier I practically met the same familiar faces at protest rallies, now it is different – when I walked among the people at the rally on March 1st, I had the impression that most of them were people I had seen for the first time in my life. And who probably are not “official” (opposition) party activists on social networks. And I must admit that I was quite calm inside, because now what I warned about is finally happening: that it is necessary to stop relying on parties.

But what worries me now is a kind of naivety of the people who demand Golob’s head. So: Prime Minister Robert Golob should resign, and the problems will be (even if not immediately) solved. No, they will not be, dear fellow citizens! Golob is just an implementer of some policy, whom his godfathers can depose if they wish, and bring another person to his position. Which, given Golob’s already proverbially “stormy” character, is quite a likely scenario, which the Požareport portal also wrote about a few days ago. It is no secret that Golob is full of himself and therefore convinced that he does not need to obey those who brought him to the most influential political office in the country, which is why, last year, he could afford to make grotesquely naïve statements about how Milan Kučan makes mistake. In doing so, however, he forgot two facts: that Kučan is actually much more intelligent than he appears at first glance, and that the former boss of the League of Communists does not “joke” when it comes to serious matters.

And what can follow that? Perhaps the fact that Golob’s affairs will suddenly escalate even in the pro-government media and the tousle-haired man from Gorica will leave the stage in shame, perhaps even by going to prison. Of course, this does not mean that a different policy will continue, only that the successor will be such that he will challenge fate a little less. Let’s not forget that the Gibanje Svoboda party still has a record 41 MPs in the National Assembly, so that it can even establish a constitutional majority if it joins with NSi party. And with such a favourable balance of power, who will even cheer for preliminary elections?

Thus, civil society will not have to be satisfied with mere crumbs. Golob’s departure alone will not solve anything, as the ruling majority can confirm the new Prime Minister, who will have to be given another chance. And wait a year or so for him to show what he knows. Of course, with the same balance of power and the same programmatic starting points of the ruling majority. Which means that the agony of the oppressed and ignored will drag on. And deepen.

Therefore, if Slovenia really stands up, it will have to demand thorough changes. Also new preliminary elections. The fight for them will be very tough. Civil society will also have to call the current president of the republic to account. If she was elected by the people, she will have to side with the people. Or to say why she will not do it. In any case, we should no longer allow ourselves to be half-hearted. Otherwise, the consequences of the “extended past” will be even more painful in the future.


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