Final Election Debate Covers Hate Speech, Refugees, Minorities and Campaign Finance

By , 01 Jun 2018, 11:46 AM Politics
Final Election Debate Covers Hate Speech, Refugees, Minorities and Campaign Finance JL Flanner

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STA, 1 June 2018 - Hate speech was one of the topics in the final debate of the election campaign broadcast by TV Slovenija last night with party leaders responding to the anti-hate protest rally held in Ljubljana earlier yesterday. 

All our election coverage can be found here, while our profiles of the major parties are here.

The favourite to win Sunday's election, the Democratic Party (SDS) came under fire along with the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS) for their anti-migrant campaign rhetoric.

SDS leader Janez Janša was challenged over racist and homophobic tweets by his party candidate Lucija Šikovec Ušaj, one of which read that neo-Nazis had recently been showing more sense and taste than anyone else.

While "distancing" himself from "any inappropriate statement", Janša failed to distance himself from concrete quotes.

Marjan Šarec of his namesake list, the leader of conservative New Slovenia (NSi) and former PM Alenka Bratušek, who spoke for her party, shared the view that parties and party leaders should take a clear position in such cases, and should tell their members that such comments were unacceptable.

SLS leader Marko Zidanšek disagreed with the interpretation that the party's campaign posters were poisoning the political atmosphere with hate speech, arguing instead that they tried to turn attention to the fact that the outgoing government devoted more attention to one refugee that the poor in Slovenia.

Outgoing Prime Minister Miro Cerar held up his Modern Centre Party (SMC) as an example of tolerance in politics. He expressed concern about politics advocated by Janša, which he said led to ideological discord and that disrespect for the values of the law.

Social Democrat (SD) leader Dejan Židan lamented what he described as a deteriorating state of political culture in Slovenia, while Karl Erjavec, the leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), voiced concern about hate speech directed against minorities.

Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, criticised the outgoing coalition for what he sees as an inappropriate response to attacks on marginalised groups. Some members of the Left as well as the non-parliamentary Pirate Party also took part in the anti-hate rally yesterday.

Alojz Kovšca, speaking for his pro-business party GAS, and media owner Bojan Požar for the party carrying his name, maintained that the rally was politically-motivated and Bojan Dobovšek from the Good State said that any rally at a time of political campaign was political and that the media should be unbiased.

Požar argued for a maximum freedom of speech, which he said was much more important than attempts to curb it. Cerar retorted that Požar often lied in his tabloid news site and was a liability to Slovenian journalism.

The debate also focused on campaign financing following allegations that the SDS was being covertly financed from Hungary.

However, Janša, helped by Požar, struck back by levelling accusations at other contenders, alleging that the Šarec party was financed by state-owned companies and that Cerar's hairdresser got a EUR 1.5m loan from a state bank after it had been bailed out. Both denied the accusations.

The leaders of the smaller parties complained about systemic discrimination against them in the media campaign, while Janša put Šarec in a somewhat embarrassing situation after he confirmed that they had met for talks despite Šarec denying that earlier in the debate.

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