The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 17 March 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 17 April 2020 – The left-wing weekly Mladina takes a look at what it sees as Janez Janša's Democrats' (SDS) obsession with Communism, pinpointing several SDS features which in fact make it resemble a true Communist Party.
It is really oppressive and depressing to listen to the lies about Communism which the SDS is constantly serving to the public.
It's 2020 and they are still going on about Communist media and Communist leaders, the weekly magazine says on Friday.
This could partly be understood if almost all former Slovenian Communist Party officials who are still active in politics were not in the SDS.
Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says there are currently three former Communist Party officials in the upper echelons of Slovenian politics.
They are Modern Centre Party (SMC) leader Zdravko Počivalšek, who was not a very ambitious Party member, President Borut Pahor, who was ambitious, and Janša, an ambitious and inquisitive young Communist whose character was not entirely to the Party's liking so it expelled him.
The SDS obviously believes that obsessing with Communism will make it win some legitimacy abroad, whereas it only disgraces itself.
All serious people know that only populists, converts and those having a hard time reconciling with reality are promoting "this East European litany".
"Nevertheless, we are grateful to PM Janša, postmen Uroš Urbanija [acting Government Communication Office boss], and FM Anže Logar for the cable sent to the Council of Europe [about Slovenian media with a Communist bias], because we do not have to explain abroad any more what kind of government is in power in Slovenia."
Mladina says the SDS has several features in common with the Party, listing among other things the hounding of those who disagree with it and the personality cult.
It argues the SDS is a movie-like version of the Communist Party the SDS portrays in its cables and descriptions of the situation in Slovenia.
Whenever the SDS has come to power it seems that when Slovenia left Communism behind to embrace democracy, the SDS did not actually want democracy but merely to take power away from the Communist Party.
The SDS is right in that whenever it comes to power, Slovenia returns 30 years back, Mladina concludes the editorial And When Will We Have "Youth Day"?
STA, 16 April 2020 – The right-wing Demokracija magazine makes a case against green policies promoting renewables, saying on Thursday the coronavirus crisis has shown how attempts to make urban areas green, including by promoting public transport as opposed to cars, are misguided.
Wanting to turn urban centres into countryside-like places is a time bomb in that bringing wildlife to cities increases the chances of viruses being transmitted to humans.
Although the novel coronavirus is not necessarily such a case, such behaviour represents a highly risky interaction between nature and urban areas, to which the majority of national and global officials who want to build a green agenda with billions in taxpayer money turn a blind eye.
"The zeal to make urban areas green has reached psychopathic proportions in the fight against global warming," says editor-in-chief Jože Biščak.
He says that the expulsion of personal vehicles from city centres forced many people to use public transport amid the coronavirus outbreak, which has resulted in hundreds of deaths recorded in Madrid, Milan, Paris or New York, yet media agitators and progressive politicians continue to wave the green flag.
"Those who use public transportation know the effect of being packed like sardines; immense crowds using public transport services have proved to be a deadly variant of exaggerated green thinking," the weekly says under the headline The Effect of Packed Sardines.
Nevertheless, the European Commission launched a public debate on the strategy of sustainable finance as part of its multi-billion euro Green Deal.
But Biščak says the smart EU countries have not responded to it, because they know the recession to stem from the pandemic is a much bigger threat to people's prosperity.
Demokracija says the EU's energy policy based on renewables will have to change because no EU country will probably be able to afford the green luxury after the economy contracts, especially because the western civilisation's prosperity is built on cheap fossil fuel, which is right now emerging as a straw that could help restart the economy and save jobs.
All our posts in this series are here
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 10 April 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 10 April 2020 - The latest editorial of the left-wing weekly Mladina reflects on what it sees as a rage reflex that seems to be triggered in PM Janez Janša by even a hint of criticism. It looks at the attacks mounted against Aleksander Čerefin after the Slovenian UEFA head said he was tired of hearing the constant apocalyptic coronavirus comments by Slovenia's leading officials.
The weekly paper's editor in chief Grega Repovž argues that Janša's comment about greed causing football matches not being cancelled also after the WHO had declared an epidemic, made during Tuesday's special address to the nation, was a jab at Čeferin meant to suggest UEFA could have prevented the fateful 19 February Milan match between Atalanta and Valencia.
Repovž points out that a potential cancellation of the match had been in the domain of Italian authorities, which had recorded three coronavirus cases in the county by that point.
While also highlighting other demonstrably false statements made by Janša in a part of the address targeting the former government, Repovž says the criticism by Čeferin, who just argued he would prefer a less bleak and more encouraging tone from Slovenian officials, should have been easy to swallow for those in power.
"But no, no. Janša cannot allow that. An attack followed. A fierce attack. Janša's propaganda machinery jumped first, followed by his twitter trolls. There was no mercy," Repovž says, adding that this was still not enough for Janša to later at least hold back in his address to the nation.
"What kind of person do you have to be to accuse somebody of what Čeferin was actually accused of by Janaša, through his media directly and in his speech indirectly? What to think of a man who has so much power and responsibility, but invests so much energy and anger into a single critical remark and even brings it up in an address to the nation," Repovž wonders in the commentary entitled Rage.
STA, 9 April 2020 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija rebukes the World Health Organization (WHO) for its action in the Covid-19 crisis. "Even if it was probably set up with good intentions, the WHO has turned in a politicised and corrupt organisation."
The WHO first long insisted on the stance that "general use of protective masks is not necessary", but then made a U-turn this week, starting to support the countries which encourage their citizens to wear them.
Editor-in-chief Jože Biščak finds it hard to believe the medical reasons have changed in the meantime, saying WHO staff simply want to keep their well-paid jobs, blowing hot and cold depending on where money comes from.
It recalls several cases of its "odd" action, ranging from a cheap purchase of malaria vaccine, which caused thousands of child deaths in Africa, to its complete inefficiency in fighting tuberculosis, Ebola and Covid-19, wondering if it was deliberate.
When some started warning that flights from China to Europe should be suspended, the WHO said there was no evidence the virus is transmitted with contact among people.
"When the moment of truth came, it was already too late. The number of victims is nearing 100,000 and the number of those infected goes into millions."
Demokracija blames "the belated and totally misplaced reaction" to the virus spread on the WHO and its national offices in the form of public health institutes, in reference to Slovenia's National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).
"So when you listen to the WHO advice in the next crisis, mind your money and use common sense if you want to do best for you and your family.
"When the WHO is giving advice, people are often dying, which Spain, Italy and France are realising as they mourn their deceased." The situation would be similar in Slovenia if the new government had not taken the necessary measures and advised people, unlike the NIJZ, to wear masks.
All our posts in this series are here
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 3 April 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here
Mladina: Govt using coronavirus to push its own agenda
STA, 3 April 2020 - Commenting on the government's actions in the light of the coronavirus epidemic, the left-wing weekly Mladina argues that Prime Minister Janez Janša is capitalising on the coronavirus crisis and driving his own political agenda by proposing extreme measures that use people's fears to appear warranted.
One would hope that Janša has learned his lesson after three "thunderous falls from power", that he "finally knows he must respect democracy, the existence of different opinions, that experts' opinions are professional even if people have different political beliefs, and most notably, that in this country one cannot rule this way".
When he started showing first signs of doing just that, driving disproportionate measures to bend Slovenia's society to his will, it was first thought that the extreme times called for a bit tougher ruling methods to ensure that citizens internalise Covid-19 containment measures or it was said that the government was still finding its feet during difficult circumstances.
However, the situation has escalated quickly, says the commentary headlined Propaganda War, adding that Janša's party, the Democrats' (SDS), is truly admiring the developments in Hungary.
History teaches us that there is plenty of people who "want to have absolute power and who actually see democracy as something which limits them. And that such people are currently leading quite a few countries".
"Everything that seems like a bad version of a grotesque is true," says Mladina, listing a few examples when Janša pushed his own agenda of "transforming this nation into one great SDS party", such as convincing people that some citizens were actually flocking to tourist spots over last weekend.
Some media found families and individuals at the seaside and lakeside resorts, but they talked about "an invasion". The government knew this did not actually happen - "the police issued only some 90 warnings across Slovenia, and only a few in the Gorenjska and Primorska regions" which are deemed the most popular for weekend trips, but the situation nevertheless paved the way for a ban on movement outside municipal units.
On top of that, the government's coronavirus crisis spokesperson Jelko Kacin scolded couples and families for sitting closely to each other on benches in parks as if they were children.
The weekly wonders why such conduct is tolerated if families are after all allowed to stay together during the crisis. Moreover, it also points out that the government has made a clear distinction between couples and "couples" by laying down that only those living in shared households are allowed to be with each other during the lockdown.
After the introduction of the municipal ban, children of divorced parents are not even allowed to see the other parent if they live in another municipality.
Mladina hence argues that the government is "abusing the epidemic of a dangerous virus for its own political purposes", capitalising on our fears and distress.
Such actions should not be tolerated, particularly in such circumstances, says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž, adding that relevant data show citizens are actually respecting the restrictions and should deserve praise for that.
Demokracija: Condemns media critical of govt
STA, 2 April 2020 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija is critical in its commentary on Thursday of "leftist mainstream media attacking the centre-right government willy-nilly with heavy artillery". It says this reaction is understandable because anti-coronavirus measures have not only been well-received by the people, but also undermine the leftists' agenda.
This agenda is known as cultural Marxism and is based on the undermining of traditional values. These ideas have long been spread by a variety of NGOS, mostly founded and funded by George Soros, the weekly's editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says under the headline Resurrection.
"Now this delusional dream of Slovenia again becoming a swampy socialist community, are bursting... The hardest blow being that LGBT activists and retarded social scientists can no longer brainwash students."
Now, for at least a few months, upbringing in back in "the right hands - the hands of parents". Parents must build a mental wall in the heads of their offspring so that "no degenerate leftist idea will ever again come near the brains of our descendants".
Children must come to understand that there are only two sexes and that each has its own historical burden in preserving a nation. They must understand that "hordes of foreigners from Africa and the Mohammedan world cannot replace noble Slovenian women and courageous Slovenian men".
"These days, luckily, we are witnessing a slight turning in Slovenia back to the family, religion, patriotism, the almost forgotten principles, above all there can again be seen a return to values that allowed the Slovenian nation to survive."
Demokracija says leftist media fear that Slovenia would wake up a different nation after the coronavirus epidemic. "Not a dictatorship, a threat they have been using to scare the people, but a country of free people, who showed in isolation their true solidarity and brought back humble pray to God."
"This will be a renewed resurrection, in which progressive 'rebellion' will disappear and Slovenia will be on its way to a new future, where nothing will be out of reach of hard-working hands."
All our posts in this series are here
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 27 March 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here
Mladina: Beware surveillance capitalism
STA, 27 March 2020 - In the times that are coming, democracy will be more important than we could ever imagine and the countries that do not have people fully committed to human rights and democracy in power now will have it hard, the editor-in-chief of the left-wing weekly Mladina, Grega Repovž, argues in Friday's editorial.
"In the coming weeks (!) so much will happen that we will indeed wake up to a different world, a different world order", Repovž says, pointing to restrictive measures and electronic surveillance devices that Asian countries are using to prevent the spread of coronavirus among their citizens.
"The use of such applications is undoubtedly controversial, because they severely encroach on personal privacy. But as long as health arguments are used we are somehow trying to understand them," Repovž says.
However, the world today trembles before another fear: the fear of a great economic collapse. "This fear is getting worse, because for healthy people quarantined today it is much more tangible and known than some unknown diseases. One of the reasons for this is that only a decade has passed since the last major crisis."
It was only a matter of time before those who are primarily concerned about the state of the economy realised that these applications and surveillance of infected persons can actually enable them to allow citizens to return to their jobs early in the name of the economy and assume their role of consumers again.
The technology enabling surveillance of infected persons is sending the message that capitalism can function even before the pandemic is completely contained.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn revealed for Die Zeit this Wednesday that the German government was already working on a plan to revive public life before the end of the epidemic, so that life could return to normal for most people right after Easter, except for the older and the most vulnerable, who would be asked to remain in quarantine.
He argued that in a liberal society it is not possible to restrict contacts between people in the long-term, which Repovž says is a seemingly acceptable view for any liberal. But his next sentence was that digital tracking of people's contacts, meaning tracing people's mobiles, will be inevitable in this scenario.
"And so it has happened. The wall has been penetrated. The one thing we feared has happened: the argument of liberal values has been used to violate those exact values only to let capitalism start its engines again."
The question now is whether we will give up our freedom and privacy to enable life to start again despite the virus that is among us. Will we even have a chance to be against? "Is this the world we want to live in? And primarily: Can you trust your authorities - for example in Slovenia - that they will not abuse the situation?"
But what if this experiment causes the disease to spread even more, and bring even more deaths, Repovž wonders under the headline Surveillance Capitalism Is Coming.
Demokracija: Mainstream media should not attack government
STA, 26 March 2020 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija endorses government restrictions aimed at slowing down the spread of coronavirus in its latest edition, berating mainstream media for accusing the government of censorship.
In the piece headlined What the World Will Be Like After the End of the Outbreak, Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief, writes that everyone should abide by the restrictions and behave as if they were contagious, including journalists.
"In particular the ladies who are reporting on the ground in front of cameras without protective masks (great example for the viewers indeed), and then when the government cancels live press conferences, go crying that they cannot do their job, complaining about censorship, talking about dictatorship, curbs on the freedom of speech.
"Dear readers, we are at war, at war against a virus we do not know well enough and do not know what consequences it will have on people's health."
Biščak says that no one is denying anyone's right to express their opinion, or hindering journalist work and that no one will be any less informed if the government responds to questions remotely.
He accuses the media mainstream of using the state of emergency to attack the centre-right government, arguing that people are not interested in who has been replaced at the helm of the army or police force at the moment, but rather if and how they will survive the epidemic.
"Things that are completely irrelevant to health at the moment are only of interest to socio-political workers, a phalanx of NGOs and ideological parasites as they are helplessly watching how they are losing their influence and how ordinary people are welcoming government measures."
Biščak says that restrictions will pass and that the current government has no desire to extend the state of emergency beyond what necessary, as mainstream media commentators claim.
"However, this is a time for a rethink what world we want to live in after the end of the outbreak. A globalised one where international elites take decisions that affect us and decide the quality of our lives, or a world where the power would be decentralised, people freer and regions more independent?"
All our posts in this series are here
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 20 March 2020
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."
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
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 13 March 2020
STA, 13 March 2020 - Mladina says the hearings for ministerial candidates have shown Slovenia is getting a far-right government, the assurances of the coalition's two centrist parties notwithstanding. The left-wing weekly hopes new PM Janez Janša will live up to his reputation as a master of states of emergency, something he failed to do in 2012.
Editor in chief Grega Repovž starts by highlighting statements that Slovenia would try to join the Visegrad Group - "composing countries that pursue backward policies, interfere in the judicial branch, persecute the media and intellectuals and reject minorities" - that new fences will be erected on the Croatian border and that it would make sense to include members of an extremist group into the Slovenian army.
Repovž says that the Modern Centre Parts (SMC) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) did not even wince in the face of such announcements by the ministerial candidates of the Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi), confirming the extreme candidates as appropriate and good.
This is happening as the world and Slovenia are facing one of the worst situations imaginable, says Repovž who hopes that these people with questionable views will nonetheless be capable of trusting the public sector in this situation and not use the circumstances to generate additional crises.
This will mostly depend on Janša, who has a reputation of thriving in states of emergency, but the past has shown "that it is in precisely such circumstances that this man creates panic and increases pressure time and time again".
"The last time we witnessed this was during the 2012 financial crisis, when he neglected serious economic polices to instead paint new disaster scenarios on a daily basis and portray the economy - which was struggling, banks included - as bankrupt," Repovž says in Janša Govt in Times of Anxiety.
Arguing it was his inexperienced successor Alenka Bratušek who actually protected Slovenia from the Troika, Repovž says one can really not say Janša performs well in such situations.
"But this does not mean we are not hoping things will be different this time around. After all, lives are at stake, to quote Janša himself."
Repovž goes on to urge the public to remain watchful of the actions of power holders, who often abuse extreme situations for steps that have a long-term impact on society and its prosperity.
This goes for politicians but also for international capital, which definitely sees the crisis as an opportunity to take over troubled companies and sectors. Whatever the government may be, it currently needs to act very prudently.
"That being said, Slovenia is short of experts in all areas and if Janša picks them on the basis of political affiliation, their numbers will be even smaller."
All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here
STA, 9 March 2020 - The right-wing weekly Reporter says in its commentary on Monday that the Modern Centre Party (SMC) head Zdravko Počivalšek had the best poker face in the game that has just played out in Slovenian politics and will soon see a new government taking over.
It is an art to persuade competitors that one has a good hand of cards when in fact the opposite is true and outgoing Prime Minister Marjan Šarec failed to do this.
He could not persuade Počivalšek that early elections were the best solution. "Počivalšek is the better bluff and even though he as well had a poor hand, he demolished Šarec."
Soon, Janez Janša will become prime minister a third time, but this would not have been possible without Počivalšek.
"Počivalšek is [the government's] main political godfather and he will de everything necessary for this government to remain in for the next two years, until regular election."
The question about what is behind Počivalšek's decision to switch sides, if anything at all, remains unanswered for now. "It is fact that Janša came to power very easily," the paper says, wondering whether this was really the consequence of MPs working to preserve their positions.
"Also because the network of [former President Milan] Kučan, Forum 21, is allegedly in shambles, even though Janša has recently been raging on twitter that this was not the case."
The paper says that Počivalšek may not be any more than a pawn of "the so called deep state". "To allow Janša to take power for a short while so that he will then be more easily defeated in election."
Under the headline Poker Face, the weekly says that estimates about the duration of this government vary greatly, indicating that estimates like these are often far off the mark.
All our posts in this series are here
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 6 March 2020
Mladina: Šarec, Mesec not to blame for Janša's rise to power
STA, 6 March 2020 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest editorial that blaming the Left and the Marjan Šarec List for Janez Janša's rise to power would be easiest. But the fact is that the two parties acted exactly as they were expected.
Luka Mesec of the Left and Marjan Šarec could have kept the outgoing coalition alive for a while longer to prevent the forming of the Janša government by making constant concessions to capital, but in the end, they would undoubtedly be the losers.
What happened now would happen at the next election at the latest, says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž under the headline Šarec and Mesec Are Right.
What caused the collapse of the outgoing coalition was the August 2019 proposal to abolish top-up health insurance. "The minute the Left proposed the law that would actually implement what was written in the coalition agreement, the entire coalition was up in arms.
"That was when not only the coalition but also the LMŠ fell apart, as both most important ministers from Šarec's party (finance minister and health minister) opposed the law. Because they deemed it ideologically unacceptable."
The neo-liberal parties in government immediately voiced opposition to the proposal: the SMC, SAB, even the SD complained, but hopefully only because the Left tabled the proposal, Repovž says.
Parties started calculating and MPs realised they might lose their jobs. The government did not collapse because of stubbornness of Mesec or Šarec's incompetence but because of clear ideological differences within the coalition and the LMŠ, Repovž claims.
It was a typical clash between the left and right, those who favour public health and those who want to privatise healthcare.
Parties picked sides very clearly: the SDS, NSi, SAB, SMC, DeSUS and the SNS stood to defend capital and the wealthy. "Yes, the SAB is on the list too and is not in the SDS-led coalition today only because Janša will never forget that he had to hand over the PM post to Alenka Bratušek in 2013."
The LMŠ closely escaped being put on this list as well, mainly thanks to its deputy group. People such as outgoing Finance Minister Andrej Betroncelj could have easily prevailed in the party but when they did not, departures started and Šarec was left in a position when all he could do was to resign.
"It is without a doubt terrible that Slovenia got a government led by a far-right politician. The price will be high. But in the last election we simply elected mostly the parties and MPs that see politics merely as a means to satisfy their own interests and the interests of the capital ... But at least now they are together and are no longer hiding behind the Left and the LMŠ."
Demokracija: Centre-right alliance will last for years
STA, 5 March 2020 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija is confident in its latest editorial about the firmness of the new centre-right coalition, saying cooperation between centrist and right-wing parties is "much more natural than an alliance between far-left radicals, socialists (masked as socdems), and alleged liberals".
Demokracija's editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says coalition infighting had indeed been among the reasons for the resignation of outgoing PM Marjan Šarec, but the changes at the helm of the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) were crucial for what followed.
Biščak says their former Presidents Miro Cerar and Karl Erjavec "were increasingly openly flirting with socialists ideology, while Zdravko Počivalšek and Aleksandra Pivec immediately started moving their parties back to the centre and liberal values".
Thus Biščak believes Počivalšek and Pivec's claims "that the time lost with an election would have had disastrous consequences for Slovenia over media assertions that they are saving their parties from being erased from the political arena in a snap election".
While criticising last Friday's rally organised against the new coalition as a sign "we are sinking back into a totalitarian world", Biščak is confident that the new coalition is ideologically firm, up to the task, and has a good chance of making it until the end of the term.
"Even more. There are signs emerging on the horizon of a firm coalition between liberal and right-wing parties after the 2022 election," Biščak says in the commentary entitled Sorry for Even Existing.
All our posts in this series are here
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 28 February 2020
STA, 28 February 2020 – The left-wing weekly Mladina puts the pending power shift in Slovenia in the context of a nationalist-populist wave that gripped Europe in 2015. It issues a scathing criticism of the Democrats (SDS) and those about to enable a Janez Janša government, saying they are foolish to think Janša has changed his ways and that the Slovenian public will stand by quietly.
The weight of the decision that MPs face next week as parliament will vote on the new government "is much bigger than they are willing to admit to themselves", the weekly's editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says in the commentary entitled The Public is Watching and Remembering.
"They are being calculated in their actions, but it seems they are not really aware they will carry the consequences of their decision for the rest of their lives," he says, arguing the MPs know very well what Janša's Democrats (SDS) are about.
Repovž equates the SDS with "hatred, a giant factory of lies, constant and grave elimination of those not sharing their views, overt racism and exclusion".
"Many people and institutions have for years been living under this pressure and this has left Slovenian democracy deeply wounded," Repovž says, speaking of year after year marked by inciting of hatred, attacks on scholars, culture workers, media, individual journalists.
"Of course there was also abuse of power, the circumvention of laws (for instance those governing the funding of parties from abroad), and last but not least corruption and all kinds of dodgy manoeuvres with cash, including the inability of the party's president to explain the origins of his."
Repovž says that statements by MPs and party leaders show they know exactly who they are putting in power and thus they also know what Slovenian society will go through because of their decision.
He argues that they may be trying to convince themselves that there will be no culture war and ideological attack on society this time around, but notes that these already started before the coalition agreement was signed and that there has been too much of this for any politician serious about democracy to swallow.
"There is one habit that Slovenian politicians are simply incapable of losing: they keep underestimating the public and treat citizens as small children that can be fooled with stupid tricks. Well, these citizens have shown too often now how they feel about this arrogant attitude of the elite and how to demonstrate this sentiment."
STA, 24 February 2020 - Reporter, the right-leaning political magazine, believes the "deep state" is the force slotting the pieces together to result in a new Janez Janša government. "Janša is literally being gifted his third government by the deep state," it says in Monday's commentary.
Arguing that the Left, "the party most strongly led by the deep state", is the main reason why the Marjan Šarec government came crashing down, Reporter says that "if it was in the interest of old networks to prevent Janša's renewed ascent to power, they could probably have done that."
"Sometimes it is necessary to take a step back to then take two steps forward. The Communists had successfully deployed these tactics thirty years ago, during the change of political system and independence, when they temporarily gave up power so that two years later, dressed up as social democrats and liberals, they could return," the commentator says.
Now the deep state wants to let Janša carry out some urgent but unpopular measures, just like his government did eight years ago, counting on people rebelling for "a new episode of pan-Slovenian popular uprisings". Two years later, the left can then return to power even stronger, the paper says in Gift by the Deep State.
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 21 February 2020
STA, 21 February 2020 - The left-wing weekly paper Mladina argues in its latest editorial that unlike in the past, the Democrats (SDS) do not even bother to conceal the wolf hiding under their sheep's clothing, immediately revealing their revenge-driven, arrogant and autocratic view of politics and the state.
Things got real much sooner than expected, Mladina's editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says, highlighting the threat issued by SDS MP Žan Mahnič to Police Commissioner Tatjana Bobnar as well as SDS head Janez Janša's statement that the SDS was discussing the editorial policy at the left-leaning daily Dnevnik.
"Coming from any other politician, this would perhaps be understood as a (bad) joke. But not with Janša. Because he already did this. And is doing it," Repovž says in Has the Election Campaign Already Begun?.
"He is interfering in the media all the time, if needed he will sell the nation's silverware (retailer Mercator in exchange for influence on the papers Večer and Delo) or even his own political sovereignty (he did it when he took millions from Hungary to build a media empire)," Repovž says.
Mladina's editor speaks of Janša's obsession with the media and his blaming of allegedly exclusively left-oriented media for his failures, while pointing out that Janša's term at helm of the SDS has been the longest among any heads of serious political parties in Europe.
Repovž argues that the latest developments are only a repeated demonstration of what makes the SDS a party that no serious democratic party is able to cooperate with.
He then turns to the Modern Centre Party (SMC), which he says will make the unoriginal mistake of entering an SDS-led coalition only to gradually disappear while giving absolutely everything to Janša - the latter will in turn say thank you and go to an early election.
STA, 17 February 2020 - Reflecting on Janez Janša's chances to form a government this term, the latest editorial of the right-leaning weekly magazine Reporter speculates that a short-lived Janša government may be in the interest of the deep state.
Under the headline Coincidental Prime Minister-Designate, editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla writes that Janša, the leader of the Democrats (SDS), probably has a better chance forming a government now than after an early election unless the balance of power between the left and right changed substantially.
Being that the ballot to appoint PM-designate is secret and that many MPs are "trembling about where to find new jobs", Janša should not have difficulty securing 46 votes.
"The problem could emerge later; the new government, like the Šarec cabinet would be in the draught all the time. Janša (...) is probably aware of that. It is obvious he desires immensely to be prime minister, the question is whether also at all cost.
"Even more than Janša, a new government is desired by SMC [Modern Centre Party] leader Zdravko Počivalšek (...) polls show it would be hard for the SMC to make it to parliament in a snap election, so Počivalšek is hoping to enhance the party under Janša."
Šurla finds that the biggest problem for a new Janša coalition is the SMC because it is still not clear how many MP votes the party can secure with at least two or even half of the SMC's ten MPs rumoured to be opposed to a Janša-led coalition.
The paper notes that the Marjan Šarec minority government saw the start of its end when the Left denied its support, wondering whether the leader of the Left Luka Mesec might have been ordered to make the move because of a new master plan ready in the background.
"Considering that the opportunity for a new government literally landed in Janša's arms even though parties left of the centre have as many as 52 members in parliament this term, the potential role of the so-called deep state should not be overlooked.
"What if it is in the interest of the uncles behind the scenes to have Janša return to power for a short while so that his government take some urgent, unpopular measures, which would spark off a revolt in the form of 'popular uprisings' that would bring new faces of the 'transition left' back to power?"
All our posts in this series are here
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 14 February 2020
Mladina: Parties should reject SDS-led government
STA, 14 February 2020 - Mladina, the left-leaning magazine, appeals to MPs and parties to refrain from joining a coalition led by the Democrats (SDS), arguing in Friday's commentary headlined All the Masks Have Fallen that now is the time to stand up for democratic standards.
"All the masks have fallen, all faces have been revealed. It is no longer possible to debate who stands for what kind of policies or democratic standards, the political parties have already made that plain," reads Mladina's editorial.
The leaders of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), New Slovenia (NSi) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) have no qualms about SDS's democratic standards.
"They don't care if this party spreads intolerance, if its propaganda machine calls for the lynching of those who think differently, if it threatens journalists and politicians who disagree with them, they don't care if this party is connected to lobbies and is an ally of the Hungarian government and the Fidesz party."
Whether or not SDS leader Janez Janša forms a government now depends solely on individual MPs in the SMC, NSi and DeSUS. "How many MPs leave the SMC if these parties agree coalition is the only issue that remains open and will determine the course of events to come."
Mladina sees Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and Labour Minister Ksenija Klampfer, both senior SMC members, who oppose cooperation with the SDS, as examples of politicians who have stood up for democratic standards and who have created an opportunity for SMC lawmakers to reject party leader Zdravko Počivalšek's "Machiavellian stance".
It also suggests Slovenia should look to Germany, where the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer had to step down "due to inconsistency about cooperation with the Alternative for Germany (AfD)".
"In Slovenia, a young democracy where MPs and ministers are seen as some kind of party soldiers, this was received with amazement... Yes, it is democratic for an MP or politician to follow their conscience. And in the coming days, when perhaps another MP decides in a similar fashion, this would be a feast of democracy."
Demokracija: The left's violent streak
STA, 12 February 2020 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija condemns death threats against politicians interested in forming coalitions with right-wing parties, saying that violence has always been in the left's domain. "Any death threat is a deplorable act... But it is all the more serious if it comes from the radical left because we know from history that it is usually carried out."
Demokracija editor-in-chief Jože Biščak points to the recent events in Thuringia, with the newly appointed state premier Thomas Kemmerich stepping down a day after he was sworn in.
His family received death threats after Kemmerich, a member of the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP), was appointed with the support by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the "patriotic" Alternative for Germany (AfD).
"The coalition with patriotic Germans caused unease among the Christian Democrats, even aggravation, but the leftists, unable to come to terms with the legitimately elected Kemmerich, immediately activated ANTIFA, a radical left group prone to violence."
Biščak notes that in Slovenia Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) head Aleksandra Pivec received a threat against her life last week, after she said the party would continue speaking to the Democrats (SDS) about a potential coalition.
Moreover, he says that back in 2012 somebody broke the window on the car of People's Party (SLS) leader Radovan Žerjav as he was negotiating a coalition with the SDS.
When the left fails to achieve what it wants in the legitimate and legal way, they start intimidating. ANTIFA is the left's violent background, a paramilitary unit. It responds to calls by a variety of NGOs nurturing the same ideology.
The Peace Institute is one of them, Biščak says under the headline Born for Violence. In one of its annual reports, the institute said that it helped to topple the second SDS government and the then Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler.
We all know how that happened: through violence (granite pavement cubes), threats (life-size human dummies suspended from a bridge) and betrayal (Gregor Virant), the commentator says about the protests that ultimately led to the fall of the SDS government in 2013.
All our posts in this series are here