By: Gašper Blažič
The Slovenian People’s Party (SLS) announced today the lead candidate for the upcoming European Parliament elections, which will take place on June 9th, 2024. They have chosen the accomplished researcher and active citizen, Dr Peter Gregorčič, the party announced.
“The political crisis that Slovenia finds itself in is reflected in pronounced social polarisation and internal preoccupation. We believe that one of the reasons for this is the fact that a generational shift has never truly occurred in our political landscape. Not at the level of formal holders of power, let alone at the level of centres of influence. The older generation of political actors has never truly and completely transferred the levers of power to the younger generation. Of course, this should not be held against them. We are convinced that executing a generational shift is not the task of the older generation of politicians. It is our task. The task of the younger generation. We and only we are the ones who must find and assert our own place under the sun. We must realise that the success of the generational shift is solely in our hands. We, the younger generation, are solely responsible for our future and for the future of the country in which we are given the privilege to live,” they stated in the press release.
Gregorčič for a strong EU
They believe that the time has come, and we ourselves have matured for this to be finally accomplished. “Therefore, the Slovenian People’s Party, as the oldest political party in Slovenia, wishes to seek capable individuals in the broader social sphere who have established themselves as active citizens and have demonstrated through their engagement that they care about our country. We want to offer them an environment within which they will be encouraged to actively enter politics. The formation of the list for the European Parliament elections next year is the first in a series of steps through which, as a party, we strive for a successful generational transition. Because we believe that Slovenia needs and deserves this,” they further communicated.
The lead candidate for the European Parliament elections, Dr Peter Gregorčič, expressed his gratitude to the party’s authorities for confirming him with overwhelming support. He emphasised: “A strong European Union (EU) is crucial for our material, cultural, and spiritual well-being. We must contribute to this. Today, at a crossroads for the EU, we must send our best. We face two wars at our borders and in our vicinity. We are dealing with a wave of migration, which, with inadequate policies, can jeopardise one of the key achievements of the EU – the openness of borders within the Schengen area. We feel the consequences of climate change and an energy crisis, with the potential for misguided policies in these areas to weaken our economy, agriculture, and affect the most vulnerable citizens of Europe. Therefore, forming a strong list for the European Parliament is our first contribution to the common goal, a strong Slovenia, and a strong EU for all.”
Among Gregorčič’s priorities, a former president of the programme council of RTV Slovenia and a university professor, is highlighting the joint protection of borders against illegal migrations, as well as a green transition that does not mean giving up the best that Europe has and knows.
The President of SLS, Marko Balažic, emphasised that SLS remains a strong member of the European People’s Party family: “As the first member of the EPP from Slovenia, we feel a moral obligation to clearly emphasise the importance of a strong Slovenia in Europe.” He also highlighted that the vicious circle of self-engagement in Slovenian politics is a consequence of a lack of vision: “We were the first to transparently announce the beginning of the formation of a list that everyone can identify with. With a clear commitment that we need a strong Slovenia and a strong Europe. Anyone who knows Dr Peter Gregorčič knows that he will fulfil what he promises. And that is exactly what we need in politics today.”
The lead candidate, Dr Gregorčič, a 43-year-old with a doctorate in mechanical engineering and a father of four, concluded his address with an invitation: “Join us on the path to a stronger Europe!”
Is Bogovič saying goodbye?
The formation of a list for the European elections appears to be an announcement of SLS’s independent participation. Recall that the current European Parliament member Franc Bogovič ran on a joint list of SDS and SLS in 2019, and in the previous term on a joint list of SLS and NSi. For now, it is not known who the other candidates on the SLS list are. However, Dr Gregorčič’s candidacy as the lead candidate could pose challenges for NSi, where they have not yet decided whether the list’s lead will be the party president, Matej Tonin, perhaps one of the NSi MPs in the National Assembly (Jernej Vrtovec or Janez Cigler Kralj), or the current MEP Ljudmila Novak, who still has great ambitions to become the lead candidate. Recall that when Slovenia first participated in the European elections in 2004, the NSi list with the then lead candidate Lojze Peterle received the most votes. However, after twenty years, the situation is significantly different, as Peterle is also critical of NSi’s too close alignment with the ruling party, Gibanje Svoboda, which he considers morally bankrupt.
In any case, interesting confrontations await us.