By: Mitja Iršič, M.B.
The race for the president of the country has not even started yet, but the main favourites are already known. It is already clear to those familiar with Slovenian specific conditions that Anže Logar, Nataša Pirc Musar, and Marta Kos will compete for the second round. Nina Krajnik and Ljudmila Novak, who have not yet officially announced their candidacy, will hope for the second round, which seems to be reserved for the first three candidates.
SDS MP Anže Logar announced his candidacy for the presidential elections at a press conference on Monday. The former foreign minister believes that the function of the president of the republic should be maximally activated as a link between different views, he will pursue the idea of uniting Slovenians.
Anže Logar with the support of citizens and the right-wing centre
Logar believes that the situation, when we are faced with the challenges of security threats, and the Slovenian society is quite divided, requires a very important cooperation of all political parties, civil society, experts, and also the business sector. “The president of the republic is the only state functionary, the only politician who has majority support, and thus also majority legitimacy, to try to bring these different views in the direction that is good for citizens,” he said. He believes that all four presidents should meet monthly: of the state, the National Assembly, the Government, and the Council of State. He emphasised that his connectivity is also proven by his past work.
The head of his electoral staff will be Romana Jordan. He plans to submit his candidacy with citizens’ signatures, and according to him, he also has the support of the SDS party, although it still needs to be formally approved by the party’s council. However, there is hope that they will also support him in NSi and SLS.
It is clear that in a normal country, Anže Logar would be the favourite by a considerable margin. He is a popular politician who has made a name for himself in the last two years as a competent and credible statesman. He flawlessly carried out the presidency of the Council of the EU, achieved several important diplomatic victories, returned Slovenia to the map of core EU countries after years of Russophile politics, and relations with the USA also improved.
But, of course, Slovenia is not an ordinary country. On the one hand, Logar will have the burden of being a prominent member of a party that is systemically demonised by the media, and on the other hand, every right-wing candidate has the misfortune that, in contrast to normal EU countries, the Slovenian electorate is shifted by approximately 60 percent to 40 percent to the left, which is partly the result of 46 years of collectivist brainwashing, and partly, unfortunately, also a manifestation of the so-called Cambodian syndrome, as an important part of those missing voices that would bring us to a political balance are exiled or buried in the country’s many murder sites.
Nataša Pirc Musar would like to please the centre
Nataša Pirc Musar wants to present herself as a continuity of moderation following the example of Borut Pahor, which would be acceptable to both the left and the centre-right. In particular, the centre-right sometimes thinks tactically that the right-wing candidate has no chance against the left-wing candidate in a potential second round. She is definitely not as obviously politically profiled as Marta Kos, although there is no doubt where she belongs and how people perceive her. After all, she was the one who scolded Pahor for not coming forward after the previous government adopted anti-corona measures (which were almost identical, but in many cases milder than elsewhere in the EU).
It was during the epidemic that she took on a more obvious political profile. She took issue with the PCT terms, saying they were inconsistent with the constitution and GDPR, despite similar ones in most of the world, and said the government wanted to force people to vaccinate by checking the PCT. At the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice, and Home Affairs (LIBE), where they discussed media freedom and the rule of law, she claimed that “at press conferences related to the epidemic, even the presence of journalists via electronic access was limited” and that “UKOM prohibits conversations with certain journalists in certain media, and also limits media appearances by government officials, including ministers”. Of course, it was a hoax, as the government has never restricted any journalist’s access to press conferences, but they were held online for security reasons. Likewise, the previous government never restricted media appearances for ministers, as the current government does.
The support of the “godfathers” may harm Pirc Musar
Considering how Pirc Musar engaged in the corona crisis, the support of the penultimate president of the Central Committee of the Union of Communists (CK ZK) Milan Kučan and Danilo Türk is not a surprise. On the other hand, the support of two former presidents, who are very clearly profiled to the left – one is even a former president of the Central Committee of the ZKS – may also be harmful. Pahor attracted centrist voters by giving up on him the hard part of the left led by Kučan. If Musar wants to count on the support of the same part of the electorate, she will have to relativise the support of former presidents as soon as possible. It may also be about a double game of the former presidents, realising that it could harm the candidate who wants to profile herself in the centre, which would possibly bring one leftist and one rightist candidate to the second round, where Kučan’s circle probably counts on the trump card of the previously mentioned unnatural inclinations of the electorate. We already saw something similar when Kučan supported the moderate Mitja Gaspari in 2007, and not the more obviously left-wing Türk – Gaspari did not make it to the second round, and Türk defeated Lojze Peterle in the second round.
If it is really a double game, then it goes in favour of Marta Kos, the candidate of the largest party in the parliament, which the former presidents did not officially support with the excuse that the concentration of political power around the Gibanje Svoboda party is not healthy for democracy. Marta Kos is undoubtedly one of the favourites. The long-time general secretary of Forum 21, former ambassador, and external correspondent of RTV has certainly the right basis for taking over the throne of Pahor, according to the taste of Kučan’s circle, as it would mean a kind of return to the days of Danilo Türk and more openly left-wing politics in the presidential palace. On the other hand, it will be difficult for Marta Kos to avoid questions about her sympathy for Russia, when, as one of the few European politicians, she is unusually concerned about good relations with the increasingly ethno-fascist Russian Federation. Even on the left side of the political pole, Russia is not very popular these days, except for the really extreme members of the Society of Friends of the Soviet Union (read: OF).
Pirc Musar can also be headstrong
If it is a double game and Kučan’s circle wants to get rid of Pirc Musar with false support, it is probably because Musar is, despite everything, a bit headstrong and can sometimes say things even against the left. When she was nominated for the post of General Director of RTV Slovenia, she said (which is very unusual for actors on the left) that she was being ousted by the Social Democrats, but at the same time she admitted that they have been leading the editorial policy of RTV Slovenia for years. With Marta Kos, Kučan’s circle probably would not worry about such shocking statements, which was clearly shown when Prime Minister Golob announced her candidacy and at the same time reprimanded Milan Kučan for not supporting Kos, and she was clearly shocked by such a statement. It is clear which of the left-wing candidates Kučan’s circle can unconditionally count on.
Nina Krajnik as a breath of fresh air in Slovenian politics
A breath of fresh air in the presidential race is the psychoanalyst and philosopher Nina Krajnik, whom the general public met at the post-election panel, where she outclassed some of the more traditional speakers with her clear flow of thought and somewhat different, more philosophical rhetoric than we are used to from commentators. Since she is a politically blank piece of paper, but she spoke a lot about the deep state and the conflict created by the left in Slovenia according to the principle of “divide et impera”, some right-wing circles took her as their own. Among others, she has the support of a law professor, former constitutional judge, and one of the fathers of the Slovenian constitution, Peter Jambrek, and professor and constitutional judge Tone Jerovšek. It is quite an impressive set of supporters of an otherwise lesser-known candidate with no official political connections. She will collect the signatures herself with the help of Vili Kovačič. For the time being, the majority of the media ignore her or write marginally about her due to her right-wing connections, with the exception of the online portal N1, which published an interesting verbal duel between her and Nataša Pirc Musar. However, there are already obvious signs that they are looking for a lever to disable her – the Reporter began with alleged allegations of physical violence against relatives. Since these are serious accusations, she will have to answer them firmly and honestly. For now, against Logar, she is considered an outsider, as far as the breakthrough to the second round is concerned.
Ljudmila Novak has no chance of winning
Ljudmila Novak has not yet officially announced her candidacy, although it has been clear for several years that the majority media, led by Odlazek’s publications and the online portal 24ur, are shaping her for this very role – to take over the primacy of the usual right-wing candidate as a representative of the so-called noble right that can be tolerated by leftist interest circles. She has no chance of winning, having lost most of the traditional right-wing base that once supported her. You cannot endear yourself to them if your posts mostly deal with criticism of Janša and the government – which included representatives of her own party. These elections will be especially important as a litmus test of the real usefulness of the popularity rankings of politicians, in which Novak even led for a while before Pahor, despite the fact that the Slovenian public has heard almost nothing about her, except when she wrote some sarcastic tweet about the 14th government or Janez Janša.
The election debacle, which some even in right-wing circles are quietly expecting, will give a meaningful answer to the question of what the true value of popularity politbarometers is. Novak’s problem is also that the rest of the favourites are rhetorically much more skilled than her, and personality wise Logar and Krajnik are at least more interesting. Another problem is that she has no chance of seriously taking away the votes in the left from Pirc Musar and Kos. Regardless of all the interviews in Mladina and Pop TV, she is still a part of the former government party, which the left half hysterically perceives almost as a manifestation of fascism.
Gregor Bezenšek and Vladimir Prebilič
Gregor Bezenšek, better known to the public as SoulGreg Artist and the founder of the Viljem Julijan Society for Helping Children with Rare Diseases, will also run as a marginal candidate. Since he is completely without political and media support, which is necessary for success in the elections according to Slovenian political laws, he has no real chances to make it to the second round, and given the topic of his candidacy, he will probably draw from the left-wing electoral pool. The ambitious mayor of Kočevje, Vladimir Prebilič, is also entering the race for president of the republic. As he said, he did not seek the support of the parties, but he will seek the support of the voters. He is supported by his mayoral colleagues from the Club of Independent Mayors. At first, they considered running for the National Assembly elections, but did not decide to do so. However, they announced that they would actively participate in the presidential and local elections. Prebilič was thinking about a presidential candidacy even then, but at the same time he assessed that it only makes sense if there is broad support that goes beyond the boundaries of individual political parties. We will see what his chances are.
Borut Pahor, the first president of all Slovenians
At the end, it must be said that the new president of the republic will step into the big shoes of Borut Pahor. Pahor was the first politician on the left in the history of the country, who at least tried to be the president of all people – both collectivists and capitalists, both those who light candles on the Home Guard gravesites and those who light them on partisan ones. As the first president, he did not behave as if the left-wing dynastic hegemony was the only real Slovenian people and the only real civil society he served.
Pahor’s reconciliation can only be repeated with the right-wing
It is an almost unwritten rule that any of the two candidates on the right would be the same, since the centre-right in Slovenia was the driver of unification, while the left was the source of exclusion and deepening of the split in society. On the left, Marta Kos is the guarantor of the continuation of Danilo Türk’s policy. Nataša Pirc Musar is still unknown from the point of view of a stateswoman. Even though she is ideologically on the left and even though she has attacked the government through the corona with bizarre accusations, on the other hand she can also be headstrong and – on the left, they would say “disobedient”. However, it is difficult to expect her to continue Borut Pahor’s state-forming, conciliatory policy. On the left side of the political pole, there are still a few trump cards who have not yet publicly confirmed their candidacy – among them, the most likely candidate for Borut Pahor’s rightful successor is Ernest Petrič, the old man of Slovenian politics, once a leftist who suddenly became centre-right after the left strongly moved to the extreme. In any case, autumn will still be hot, and in the end – just like the parliamentary elections – the media will again have the key word.