The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 20 March 2020
Mladina: Populists will abuse COVID-19
STA, 20 March 2020 - In its latest commentary, the left-wing weekly Mladina labels as very unusual several moves made by the new government in order to contain the coronavirus outbreak, and notes that some of them are actually about populists wanting to consolidate their power by abusing the crisis situation.
In the commentary headlined Unusual, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says that some things done in recent days have remained unexplained, including the formation of a crisis management team which does not belong under the auspices of the Health Ministry.
In all comparable countries, the coronavirus is being fought within the civilian sphere, under civilian legislation, while the military performs only support activities.
"In Slovenia, as the government is being taken over by the Democrats (SDS), the management and communication of the situation has been stripped away from public health experts," with the matters being formally transferred to the defence department.
"It is a different way of governance, of thinking. The civilian sphere, the healthcare sector in this case, has been formally subjugated to the defence sector."
What is even more unusual is that all healthcare institutions have been instructed not to communicate with the public about the epidemic without permission. "There is no good reason for this whatsoever," Repovž says.
"Basically all key people appearing in the public on behalf of the government are party members first and foremost, even the only health expert. This is very strange for a European country in 2020."
Repovž notes that the Guardian had already written about European populists trying to abuse the coronavirus, and that they can be stopped. He points to the "latest attempt to abuse the crisis situation to make social changes" not so long ago.
This was done by the Janša government in 2012, which faced protests because he tried to use people's distress because of a difficult financial situation to carry out social subversion.
"The committed behaviour and solidarity expressed by people at the time when an invisible virus is roaming the country shows us very clearly how people love this country - but only as a free, fair and open society."
Demokracija: No time for ideological, political disputes
STA, 19 March 2020 - The coronavirus epidemic is a war-like situation and this is no time to engage in ideological or political settling of scores, the right-wing weekly Demokracija comments in its editorial on Thursday.
"We must all act as if we are infected. Only responsible individuals can contain the spread of the virus. No decree can stop the virus, no government can abolish it, all it can do is take some unpopular measures that (temporarily) restrict personal and economic freedom," editor-in-chief Jože Biščak writes in the commentary Covid-19, Liberty and the Free Market.
"Believe me, it pains me (as a sworn classical liberal of the Hayek Café mould in the economic sense) to see the restrictions. But the arrival of Covid-19 is like war, where logic often fails and drastic measures must be resorted to.
"Notwithstanding the political and economic situation in Slovenia (and the world), it will therefore take a lot to get through this challenge. And the fear (or ruthless insinuations by the political opponents of the new government) that Janša may exploit this difficult time to revive old methods of operation of leftist governments at the expense of liberties is unfounded."
All our posts in this series are here