Ljubljana related

01 Aug 2020, 12:13 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work week ending Friday, 30 July 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Gross negligence over care homes

STA, 31 July 2020 - The left-wing weekly Mladina argues in its latest editorial that the government has committed a criminal offence of negligence by failing to prevent a repeated coronavirus outbreak at care homes despite knowing what happened there in the first wave of infections.

Grega Repovž, the editor-in-chief, writes that the situation at the Hrastnik care home, a major Covid-19 hotspot in the country, is different than in the case of outbreaks at aged care facilities during the first wave.

It was an error of judgement not to admit infected care home residents to hospitals and isolate them outside the homes, and "the fact could not be denied that fewer elderly would have got sick and fewer would have died" given a different course of action, "but we do not think this was done in ill faith", he writes.

"The Hrastnik case is different. It is different because today we all know most care homes are built in such a way that it is impossible to prevent infected air from spreading between units and floors (...).

"However, the ministries of health and labour and the PM - who publicly interferes in everything - have made no plan in those months how to rescue the aged residents," Repovž writes under the headline Conscious Negligence.

He says the authorities can no longer cite the state of emergency as an excuse, also because of many examples of best practice, including in Croatia, where healthy residents have been immediately moved out of the infected building.

"You do not have to be an epidemiologist to know the biggest risk is socialising in large groups in indoor places. In that respect care homes are much riskier than nurseries or schools."

Repovž goes on to say that care homes are even more risky than night clubs and bars the government has been warning about. He also says that there are plenty of empty facilities - from empty hotels to youth hostels and dorms - that care home residents could be moved to and dispersed into smaller groups.

"When the infection breaks in, the elderly are systematically left there, in the homes without good ventilation, knowing the infection will spread and some will die because of it (...). It is an act of negligence. Negligent conduct that leads to death is a criminal offence in Slovenia."

Demokracija: EU budget success

STA, 30 July 2020 – Demokracija, the right-wing weekly, commends in its latest commentary PM Janez Janša for standing firm in the negotiations for the next EU budget, which it argues has brought Slovenia credibility and more funds. It meanwhile berates the opposition for minimising and relativising what it deems as a success.

"The ruffle in the Slovenian opposition shows that they do not even know what this was about," Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief of the right-leaning weekly says under the headline Club of Elite Liars.

It was not only about money in Brussels, but also about control - and not only control of the use of money, but over countries themselves, as a desire was expressed for the EU to become a federation and Brussels the flag bearer of the ideology.

"The rule of law, which sounds nice, is collateral damage, an excuse for forcing progressive migration policy on Poland and Hungary," the weekly adds.

"The defiance and firm negotiating positions of the Visegrad Group countries, which were joined by Slovenia, that the eligibility to funds for the recovery of Europe must not be made conditional on sovereign countries giving up on their concern for the nations's culture, tradition and identity and sovereignty ... was an important (stage) win."

Demokracija adds that "despite the great foreign policy success for Slovenia, the media mainstream and opposition kept minimising and relativising the matter all the time, lied about it and manipulated with it, and accused the ruling coalition of giving up on the rule of law."

All our posts in this series are here

25 Jul 2020, 12:30 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 24 July 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Fajon should move SD to left

STA, 24 July 2020 - Mladina takes a look at the left-aisle political parties in Friday's editorial, in particular Social Democrats (SD) interim leader Tanja Fajon, who, the left-wing weekly says, has the potential to consolidate the party, but also faces numerous challenges.

The SD is taking the lead on the left, as shown by opinion polls two months in a row, but the question remains whether the party truly belongs to the left-wing, says Mladina, noting that historically speaking, the SD is a leftist party, but neoliberal views and alleged involvement in controversial deals have cast a shadow on its policies and integrity.

Selecting Fajon as the new SD leader has been a good choice and not too risky since she is "a full-blooded politician", ambitious and popular, with MEP experience that have given her a wider perspective.

The paper also points out that Fajon is the only Slovenian MEP so far to have climbed quite high in the political hierarchy of the European Parliament.

Nevertheless, she is faced with various challenges. "Both other leading left parties are much stronger in terms of their programmes and ideologies even though they are weaker regarding staff".

Fajon is unlikely to tackle the party's unresolved issues or to reform it right away, but she still needs to move it to the left.

"That will not be easy since the moment she does that, the party's sinecure interests, which are aplenty, would be threatened. But if she fails to do that, voters' support would be quick to vanish."

Her potential downfall could also be instigated by hubris or having a thin skin as a politician, typical traits in Slovenian politics, says the editorial, headlined An Opportunity for Tanja Fajon.

"Gradually it will become clear who will be Fajon's right-hand persons inside and outside the party," argues editor-in-chief Grega Repovž, adding that such choices always indicate the future of a politician.

Reporter: Why Janša wants to subjugate RTV Slovenija

STA, 20 July 2020 - The right-leaning magazine Reporter finds in the latest editorial that PM Janez Janša wants to subjugate the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, just like leftist governments before him have.

Editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla opens his piece headlined Golobič Looking for a New Drnovšek by saying that Gregor Golobič, an influential secretary general during the decade-long rule of the Liberal Democrats (LDS), "is said to be feverishly looking for a new Janez Drnovšek. Yet another 'new face' with realistic chances of defeating Janša's SDS in the election."

The reference is to Slovenia's late leader who as LDS chairman served as prime minister for a decade before going on to become Slovenia's president.

Šurla says the "deep state's scenario" is to call a vote of no confidence in the Janša government by putting forward a new PM-designate this autumn, followed by an early election next spring.

This is why he believes that if the third Janša government does not fall by the end of the year, it will stay on until the regular election in the first half of 2022.

Šurla notes the growing discontent among the membership of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) as well as the "slippery slope" Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek stands on, not only because of the controversy surrounding the procurement of medical supplies, but also because the Administrative Court has upheld the anti-graft watchdog's findings that his meetings with Janez Zemljarič, the boss of the Communist-era secret police turned lobbyist, had been unlawful.

Šurla writes that Janša appears to be aware of how critical the situation is, which is why he is trying to turn all the attacks on his government and his person to his own advantage, portraying himself in public as a victim of the deep state.

A bigger threat to him than the weak opposition is the law enforcement authorities and the media, hence the replacements and legislative changes.

"The clash for the media is a clash for power. Any pretence is superfluous," writes Šurla, adding that unlike in Hungary or Serbia, the ruling regime no longer controls key media in Slovenia, like Milan Kučan or Janez Drnovšek or 'new faces' coming after them used to do.

Noting that Janša has been taking control of the media when in power, and that he has also been founding his own, he says the "biggest subject of political desire is now (again) RTV Slovenija. The large outsized media mammoth, which even after the change of regime has mostly served the political interests of the left (...).

"No matter what he says, Janša does not really want to depoliticise RTV, but rather subjugate it as much as possible, similarly as leftist governments were subjugating it more or less successfully during the transition.

"The incumbent prime minister is one of the many Slovenian politicians who have a perverted attitude to the media. Those are considered independent and objective only when they report in his favour or to the detriment of his political rivals."

All our posts in this series are here

18 Jul 2020, 13:28 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 16 July 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Way to early election

STA, 17 July 2020 - The MPs of the coalition DeSUS and SMC are hostages of the ruling Democrats (SDS), the left-wing weekly Mladina says on Friday. They insist in the coalition because they fear losing their seats, which could be easily solved by empowering them by making them financially independent, the left-leaning weekly say in MPs Must Not Be Hostages.

The MPs of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and Modern Centre Party (SMC) fooled their voters when they joined a far-right government, while they had promised them they would never do it.

Mladina's editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says the anti-government protests, which started more than 10 weeks ago, are actually directed against them.

It admits the MPs are in a dead end - they joined the Janez Janša government hoping it would be bearable, while realising after four months in government it is not.

Janša is offering them two more years in office, that is until the next regular general election.

Mladina says DeSUS and SMC MPs are largely victims of Slovenia's constitutional arrangement

Under the constitution, the Slovenian president is the one to decide that parliament is not able to form a stable government and can call an election, but it is actually MPs who have the decision on an early election in their hands.

Mladina says the MPs are always in a dilemma when faced with such a political decision, because this is also a decision on the end of their terms.

The SMC and DeSUS MPs are criticised for having supported the Janša government so that they would not lose their jobs less than half way through their term, which Mladina says this is probably true but also understandable from a human point of view.

Yet MPs can only be truly independent if they are not forced to consider losing their job, if they are financially independent.

There is a simple solution to this - a new article should be added to the deputies act saying MPs are entitled to a compensation for the loss of income until the end of a regular term if an early election is called.

Although this could be a lot of money, it is little considering the harm they can prevent by opting for an early election.

"This is the price of functioning democracy," says Mladina, adding that 30 years of democracy has shown how important it is that MPs are independent.

Reporter: Hungarian scenario may not be effective in Slovenia

STA, 13 July 2020 - Commenting on the current political developments in Slovenia, the right-wing weekly Reporter argues on Monday that the potential formation of an alternative leftist government could have the reverse effect and end up hurting the left-aisle parties, whereas the right cannot count on gaining the upper hand overnight either.

"If a vote of no confidence in the entire government succeeds and the current prime minister is replaced by an interim prime minister in autumn, this political manoeuvring would not prevent [PM Janez] Janša from winning another snap election."

Indeed, it could backfire, says the right-leaning weekly, adding that Janša's party might even secure a landslide victory or its best election result ever due to such tactics, in particular if there is no new political leader on the left.

The future political developments are hard to predict, but it is also difficult to believe that "the relation between the left and the right would turn upside down overnight to the benefit of the latter".

"Janez Janša is not [Croatian Prime Minister] Andrej Plenković, who moved HDZ from the right to the centre and was triumphant in the Croatian general election a week ago."

Whereas Plenković does not need coalition partners due to his landslide victory, Janša probably would, which is an issue for him.

"It is possible to copy political recipes from Hungary, but they will not necessarily have the same impact in Slovenia. [Hungarian Prime Minister] Viktor Orban succeeded in subjugating the dominant media, he turned them into propaganda machinery so that they have helped him stay in power for more than a decade, whereas Janez Janša has always drawn the short straw in the war with the media so far."

Reporter editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla says that Janša's "latest battlefield which he has created using 'blitzkrieg' targeted at Slovenian media" might fail if he does not get support from coalition partners SMC and DeSUS.

All our posts in this series are here

11 Jul 2020, 10:36 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 9 July 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Government communication on coronavirus “dumb”

STA, 10 July 2020 - The left-wing weekly Mladina is critical in Friday's editorial of the government's communication related to the coronavirus situation. Rather than presenting recommendations to the people as for example the German or Austrian government, the Slovenian government is being "rude, disrespectful and simply dumb", says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.

Not only is the government blaming the people for the situation, making threats and patronising them, its communication is even becoming "extremely harmful".

According to Repovž, the main problem is government spokesperson Jelko Kacin.

His statements about Slovenians not understanding that 50 people means 50, not 50 plus another 50, is sending the message to the people that they are idiots and irresponsible.

"Anyone familiar with the basics of communication knows that such threats may be efficient for a (very) short time, but in the long run they lead only to the loss of credibility and authority of the person making them."

Repovž is particularly bothered by Kacin's statements about young people, describing them as "irresponsible and also a little bit dumb beings".

But the most disturbing according to Repovž was Kacin's statement about picnics he made on Tuesday, when he urged people not to invite "people from other cultural and national environments" to their picnics.

He says "such open xenophobia" should not be allowed.

"Wise governments are building bridges of trust with citizens nowadays, asking them, addressing them as partners, co-citizens, presenting them recommendations. Others have Jelko Kacin as the official spokesperson," Repovž says under the headline Main Pest.

Demokracija: Janša's letter to Šketa not controversial

STA, 9 July 2020 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija argues in its latest editorial that the letter that Prime Minister Janez Janša sent to State Prosecutor General Drago Šketa over the anti-government protests is in no way controversial. What is controversial is the investigation of Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, it says.

Elaborating on the claim about Šketa, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says that one must distinguish between the justice system and judiciary.

"The justice system is a much broader notion, encompassing state prosecutions, lawyers and notaries; so next to judges also those performing duties related to court activities who definitely are not part of the judicial branch.

"The prosecution thus definitely falls under the executive branch of power, which means that it is autonomous but not independent (as for example justice) or untouchable."

It is clear who is in charge of the executive branch of power, so Janša's letter to Šketa in which he expressed criticism over the passivity of the prosecution in the face of inciting to violence during protests is no interference in the other branch of power but a warning of a superior to an inferior.

"With this letter Janša did not interfere with the prosecutors' independence or conduct political pressure," Biščak argues.

What is controversial, however, is the house searches that were conducted at Minister Počivalšek's home last week and him being placed in custody.

This clearly shows how alive the deep state is and that it is choosing no means in its efforts to bring down the government.

Počivalšek was suspected on misusing public funds in the procurement of protective equipment during the epidemic. But the public funds could not have been misused yet.

He was placed in custody due to the risk of flight but where could he possibly go, Biščak wonders. Another argument was that he might repeat the crime, but where is the guarantee that he will not repeat it after release.

And the third argument was that public broadcaster RTV Slovenija had reported about it. "RTV Slovenija as a key reference for an investigation, are you out of your mind?"

All this can mean only one thing: that the National Bureau of Investigation and the prosecution in cooperation with investigating judge Mojca Kocjančič (former wife of Aleš Zalar and the judge who saved Zoran Janković by excluding key evidence) have come up with a scheme that serves the interests of known political groups.

"Why Počivalšek was picked to be the scapegoat was even publicly stated in the 'official gazette' of the deep state (Mladina): because he is the weakest link on the way to the SDS and Janez Janša. It is hard to imagine a clearer laying out of the principle 'first discrediting then liquidating'", Biščak says under Dear Prosecutors, Are You Serious.

All our posts in this series are here

05 Jul 2020, 12:55 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 3 July 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Truth Behind PPE Scandal House Raids

STA, 3 July 202 - The left-wing magazine Mladina writes in the latest editorial that the reaction to the house raids in the investigation of ventilator procurement were so strong because the deal that is being investigated is not Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek's but rather of the ruling Democratic Party (SDS).

Under the headline SDS's Deal, editor-in-chief Grega Repovž writes that Počivalšek was not surprised when crime investigators called on him.

"He was ready, he knew they were coming, at least a day earlier he had been notified of their coming one way or another by Aleš Hojs, the outgoing interior minister, or Anton Travner, now former police commissioner, if not through intermediaries by someone higher up."

Repovž says that Hojs tried to cover up his forewarning to those involved by having the info aired by Nova24, "the party TV".

However, he also says that Hojs may have learnt about the timing of the house searches beforehand, he had "obviously not known for months about the ongoing investigation", which Repovž surmises based on the assumption that the police have collected enough evidence for search and detention warrants.

Repovž describes Počivalšek as an ambitious person who enjoys having privileges and power, something that he says Prime Minister Janez Janša recognised and humoured him by awarding him security guards and the title of deputy prime minister.

"He is not hiding that after the ministerial stint he would like to control the Slovenian tourism - adapting the law that would make that possible for him in plain sight (...) He would like to be a king of Slovenian tourism just like Zoran Janković passed as retail master until he was replaced by the first Janša government."

Repovž allows for the possibility that Počivalšek, who agreed with Janša that medical purchases would be conducted through intermediaries, did not know the point was to allow the intermediaries to make money.

"He may have been set up - just like under the first Janša government the procurement of Patria APCs was planted on Karl Erjavec, who likewise enjoyed immensely being defence minister and having the power, bragging about the purchase of that amazing equipment until it turned out Janša's closest aides struck the deal behind his back with the intention of obtaining commissions."

Judging by what those involved say, including the whistleblower Ivan Gale, Repovž says that Počivalšek soon realised what had been going on, considering he told Gale that the ventilators ordered through GenePlanet were "the SDS's deal".

Even though Počivalšek did not gain directly from the deal, Repovež notes that it is still crime if you made a deal possible knowing you would get some indirect benefit such as the government taking decisions to your benefit.

Repovž agrees that the subject of investigation is the SDS's deal, hence such a strong reaction from the SDS leader and PM Janša, his "ire with Hojs and Travner so immense he sacked them on the spot".

"Crime investigators have an easy job: they are dealing with people who do not find anything wrong or unusual about what they were doing, rather they believe that by gaining power that belongs to them as well. However, Počivalšek has the same problem."

Demokracija: People will not tolerate anarchists much longer

STA, 2 July 2020 - In its latest commentary headlined White Lives Matter, Too!, the right-wing weekly Demokracija says that not only in the US, but in Slovenia too, the self-proclaimed "anti-racists" have completely lost their compass, but adds that people will not be tolerating this for much longer.

"The well-known left-wing mafia of extremists has gone diabolically after the slogan of the Slovenian fashion magazine Gloss that says 'All Lives Matter' under a picture of black model Olivia Sang", the right-leaning weekly adds.

According to editor-in-chief Jože Biščak, this was enough for them to completely lose their minds. "This may mean that they will, just like they modified the freedom of expression, change the understanding of another human freedom, that is that a human life is untouchable."

All Lives Matter means exactly that - every life is important (including lives of white people), while the Black Lives Matter slogan puts black people in a privileged position, he adds.

Biščak notes that the latest cover of Demokracija features an adaptation of a scene from the video by African-American rapper XXXTentacion in which a black boy observes a white boy being hanged.

The artist faced only lenient criticism at the time, while the editor believes that Demokracija will be accused of racism.

"I get sick, my stomach turns every time I hear such accusations. It is all our fault, us conservatives and Christians from the right. We are good for the leftists only until we are cornered and we play the game of the second-rate ones while their orchestra plays.

"Once the music stops, they go berserk, they all of a sudden recognise only one law, the law of the street. The more rampaging and destruction, the better. And them hitting the streets, it is again our fault."

According to Biščak, it should be clear to anybody with the right mind that people from the left want to "turn the homeland into an infernal hole", but people will not tolerate this behaviour of "spoiled anarchists" for much longer.

All our posts in this series are here

27 Jun 2020, 10:17 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 26 June 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: DeSUS aiding far-right

STA, 26 June 2020 - The latest editorial of  the left-wing weeklyMladina takes issue with the leader of junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) Aleksandra Pivec, arguing she lacks insight into the workings of politics and above all into Slovenian political history and the methods of Prime Minister and Democrats (SDS) leader Janez Janša.

The weekly paper's editor-in-chief Grega Repovž points to Pivec lashing out this week against a satirical paper that wrote she would be conferred the diamond order of the SDS, the party's alleged highest order of merit, at Wednesday's Statehood Day ceremony.

While Pivec accused the paper of propagating fake news and "humour that only they understand", Repovž says the reaction underlined that some of the highest positions in Slovenian politics are occupied by political amateurs without any knowledge of satire or of political history, meaning they also do not understand the weight and responsibility their office carries.

This fact is exposed time and again in Pivec, who Repovž says is not a person with bad intentions but is somebody who for instance does not understand that people do not oppose Janša today because of him allegedly being a right-leaning or conservative politician.

"She does not understand that the key problem is that Janša is neither a right-leaning or conservative politician but a man whose clique has in fact hijacked the Slovenian right or conservative politics", or that a major part of right-leaning intellectuals, still thriving in the 1990s, withdrew of their own accord, seeing that any steering away from Janša meant instant onslaught.

"The situation is even worse in the political arena itself. The only conservative party that managed to preserve itself - the reason being the wisdom of its former head Ljudmila Novak - is New Slovenia (NSi), a remnant of the Christian democrats."

Repovž says he is focusing on this aspect of Slovenia's political reality because it seems that Pivec is perceiving the current developments as opposition to a conservative government. Believing Pivec to be under the spell of Janša's charisma and fake mask, Repovž suggests she is failing to see "this not a conservative government, but the far-right posing as one".

While arguing Janša's misleading of exhausted and frightened people within a neoliberal system is only a response to the demands of the market that can also be seen in the US, Russia or Turkey, Repovž says this does not absolve Pivec of her responsibility.

It is also "in her name that people are being ID-ed on streets today, that fences are being erected, that people are being illegally filmed and subjected to face recognition software, that university professors are being removed from the central square while they are reading the Constitution".

This is the point the satirical paper was trying to make, Repovž concludes the commentary entitled Ignorance as a Political Concept.

Demokracija: Janša rejects claims he has authoritarian tendencies, says govt working hard

STA, 24 June 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has rejected in an interview for the right-wing weekly paper Demokracija accusations about authoritarian tendencies, saying the reproaches "are coming from those who left the country naked and barefoot before one of the hardest tests in this nation's history".

Arguing that unlike its predecessors the government is not only engaging in empty talk but is cooperating, Janša said all coronavirus crisis stimulus packages had been coordinated with stakeholders across the board and that the opposition had been invited to cooperate as well.

This is why "claims about plans for an authoritarian regime do not pass the test of rational thought", the prime minister and head of the Democrats (SDS) said.

Commenting on claims by former PM and LMŠ head Marjan Šarec that the government was left without legitimacy, Janša said it was sad that "even in such fateful times some cannot overcome their grudges, prejudice and anger".

"Instead of contributing according to their best abilities, they use the shield of cynicism and sow discontent, restlessness and divisions among people in a time, when they would mostly need hope and encouragement."

Also commenting on the SocDems' list of 10 + 100 mistakes committed by the Janša government, a major one among them being the methods of government and communication used by the PM and other cabinet members, Janša said it would be hard to find 100 mistakes with governments that involved the SD.

"They did not even adopt that many measures in three terms. 100 and more lost of wasted opportunities sounds more like it," Janša said.

As for the priorities of the current government, Janša said that although the term would regrettably be significantly shorter "because of Marjan Šarec's failed experiment, the government will try to overhaul social support systems, prepare the basis for long-term care, form the demographic fund, speed up zoning, simplify tax procedures and secure an effective protection of the state border.

Janša sees the ageing population as a key challenge, which is why he feels that it necessary to set up the demographic fund - which is expected to bring all state assets under one roof - as soon as possible. He said a draft bill was already on the table.

Turning to the Slovenian EU presidency priorities, he listed the need to improve the concrete capabilities of the EU and member sates to deal with global crises, such as a pandemic or an extensive cyber attack. Special attention will moreover be given to the situation in the Western Balkans, the European Neighbourhood Policy and enlargement.

All our posts in this series are here

20 Jun 2020, 10:31 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 19 June 2020.

Mladina:  SDS and systemic corruption

STA, 19 June 2020 - Those opposing the government of Janez Janša, the head of the Democrats (SDS), should bear in mind that it was money rather than politics that made the SDS want to come to power, so the opposition should pledge already now to check every deal the government made during the coronavirus epidemic, Mladina comments on Friday.

"We have known for years that the SDS is a business model rather than a political party. And when it came to power, the party immediately started doing business," the left-leaning weekly adds.

When the epidemic started simultaneously with the new government assuming office, the party channelled public money for personal protective equipment towards intermediaries to get millions in commission fees, while claiming that people are dying.

"And then we realized: yes, people are dying, but you turned it into a business, which is why bicycle protests appeared in ... Slovenian towns in the first place," editor Grega Repovž says in the commentary headlined Let's Go Back to the Beginnings.

During the worst of the crisis they changed legislation to carry out large investments which no longer require any oversight and which come with large commission fees. At the same time one was witnessing the disintegration of oversight institutions, including the police, so that evidence about the controversial deals could disappear.

Repovž suggests the SDS is doing it because it knows they have little time before the next election, at which "they will probably not get enough votes" to remain in power.

"They know exactly what they are doing. This is a very well organised clique with clear intentions - to appropriate means, financial flows, privatise businesses and redirect investments so that they control them in the long run.

"This is nothing new, we have seen it in practically all East European countries. From Ljubljana to Moscow this world is very similar. And it has a name: systemic corruption."

Mladina says that staying focussed on the fact that "it's all about money, not about politics" for the SDS should help those who oppose the government to be more united.

And already today opposition politicians should pledge to check every deal from the period when the entire immune system of the state was suspended in the name of the epidemic. For starters, one should calculate all commission fees which selected companies received in procuring protective equipment.

Reporter: No-confidence motions could further strengthen govt

STA, 15 June 2020 - The right-wing weekly Reporter notes in Monday's commentary that the scandal on the procurement of protective masks and ventilators, which failed to sweep away Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, did not cause any harm to the senior coalition Democrats (SDS). The government remains firmly in the saddle, perhaps even more firmly than it looks.

The government will also not be brought down by the upcoming attempts to oust Interior Minister Aleš Hojs over a Thompson concert or Defence Minister Matej Tonic over a military incident on the border with Italy, says editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla.

Ideological efforts of the opposition in both cases could actually have the opposite effect than desired - they could make the coalition stronger instead of weaker, Šurla says.

If no major scandals erupt in the next couple of years, and if no new face emerges on the left, Janša will stay PM also after the next election.

"Tanja Fajon leading the SD does not pose a risk, since she is too leftist a politician to pick any votes from the centre as Borut Pahor did in 2008. Marjan Šarec is also obviously not aiming for the centre, as the LMŠ is increasingly turning left and becoming a copy of the Left."

Only the SAB remains in the centre-left among opposition parties, but the possibility of Alenka Bratušek ever becoming prime minister again is almost non-existent, much like with Šarec.

According to Šurla, it is no secret that Šarec and Bratušek do not like each other, and that Bratušek does not like the Left, which is actually to be blamed for the collapse of Šarec's government.

By denying support for the Šarec cabinet, the coordinator of the Left, Luka Mesec, has shown that the Left is an "extremist, destructive party which cannot even stick with a left-leaning government if all its wishes are not fulfilled".

So the more voters of the Left will vote for the SD and LMŠ instead, the higher probability of a left-leaning government, Šurla says in the editorial entitled Wind in the Sails.

All our posts in this series are here

13 Jun 2020, 21:59 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 12 June 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Army unlawfully patrolling border

STA, 12 June 2020 - The left-wing magazine Mladina asserts in its latest editorial that there is little surprise that suspicions have been confirmed that troops are patrolling the border in contravention of the law and the constitution, and that PM Janez Janša has got the better of Defence Minister Matej Tonin's ambition.

Under the headline Army on the Border, Grega Repovž writes that people from border areas have been reporting sightings of military patrols since April, even though the government denied that.

The government and Defence Minister Tonin also denied the army's involvement after a Trieste-based Slovenian newspaper reported about an Italian-Slovenian dual citizen being held at gunpoint by a soldier close to the border with Italy.

Repovž says the ministry had obviously known at that point already it was a Slovenian soldier who aimed his rifle at the hiker. A report by POP TV then revealed that the police learnt about the presence of the military patrol from security cameras.

Considering they showed the Italian-Slovenian citizen and his girlfriend "photographs of soldiers they could have only got from the army, it is clear the ministry has known for weeks what happened. Still, they have been misleading the public and lying to the Italian authorities".

Repovž goes on to say that Tonin must have counted on it the whole thing would not be made public, that "Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and the police commissioner appointed by the SDS would have taken care of it" had it not been for whistleblowers within the police force.

Unlike the Defence Ministry, Repovž says that the military has admitted unofficially its members are patrolling the south and western border, quoting an army officer as saying that they usually are part of mixed patrols but that it may happen a police officer has two or three patrol parties, each in its own section, but they always report back to the police officer.

"These are grave violations, but not unexpected (...) We knew this will happen when Janša named the ambitious Tonin as defence minister. We knew he will lead him into his 'wars'. Bypassing the law. The same way he 'enticed' Počivalšek to give him the list of companies that should supply protective equipment.

"We do not doubt Janša will protect Tonin. The same way he has Počivalšek - dirtied with his 'deals', he can only sit obediently now and nod in agreement. They knew what they are getting themselves into. Janša got the better of their ambition and he can do whatever he likes with them."

Demokracija: Protests in Slovenia and US as misguided

STA, 11 June 2020 - Looking at Black Lives Matter protests in the US, the right-wing weekly Demokracija argues in Thursday's commentary that the violent protest movement is unwarranted and the media depiction thereof biased. In that, the rallies are similar to Slovenian bicycle protests.

While rioters in the US looted and torched cars and buildings, "the media mainstream was not indignant at the mob, it reported that this was a logical reaction to 'systemic racism' of white cops and whites in general against blacks," Demokracija's editor-in-chief Jože Biščak says.

"And even though politically and ideologically motivated savages wrought destruction, we were seeing scenes that make normal people puke: white cops, Democratic politicians and stars were taking a knee before blacks asking for forgiveness.

"And what for? History? It's been a long time since whites were slave owners and blacks slaves. Because of white violence against blacks? The numbers tell a different story," Biščak says about police statistics showing there are more white victims of crime by blacks that black victims of crime by whites.

"Every victim, regardless of whether they are black or white, is a tragedy. But there is an important difference in society today. Every crime by a white against a black is designated as horrendous and the ensuing destruction as legitimate, while crimes by blacks against whites are overlooked and any peaceful protests designated as racist rallies."

Turning to the protests in Slovenia, Biščak says: "You be the judge is the situation is any different in Slovenia; the difference is that such widespread destruction has not occurred yet, but this does not mean it will not given that 'Death to Janšism' signs by Friday cyclists presage violence, they are an appeal to lynching."

"The method is the same - assertion of the law of the street. Elections are too tough, it is easier to bicycle and demand that the Janša government falls, just as it is more difficult to build and create than it is to destroy and pillage.

"Even though this has nothing to do with the rule of law and liberty, the media mainstream describes violent street methods as something good. This is scary," concludes the commentary What About Tessa Majors?

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06 Jun 2020, 14:21 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 5 June 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Šarec's comeback

STA, 5 June 2020 – The left-wing weekly Mladina takes a look on Friday at the latest Slovenian Public Opinion survey, which is to be released next week, but which the weekly says shows former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's LMŠ has climbed back to the top of party rankings, overtaking the ruling Democrats (SDS). It wonders what potential consequences this shift could bring.

"Slovenian Public Opinion, one of the oldest opinion polls in Slovenia, brings extremely interesting results, which were already signalled in polls by Ninamedia and Mediana - that Janez Janša and his government of the SDS, SMC, NSi and DeSUS has failed to convince voters, losing their support since assuming power on 13 March."

Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says the reasons for this are well known: Janša has abused Covid-19 for a political and ideological pogrom and for giving medical equipment deals to friends' companies. "Slovenians, including those who have otherwise no ideological reservations towards him, will never forgive him especially the latter."

However, the survey, which is released once a year by Ljubljana's Faculty of Social Sciences, is even more interesting from the aspect of Šarec, showing that two months after the change of government, the parties of Janša and Šarec are equally popular.

Mladina says "Šarec has managed to return to the first party league ... incredibly fast, while it seemed highly unlikely even in mid-April that he could at all make such a comeback". The LMŠ has managed to get back to the No. 1 spot even if people blamed him for the emergence of Janša's government coalition due to his resignation.

"What is more, he is returning to the top despite a very brutal campaign launched by the entire government coalition, the Hungarian-owned media and the media subjected to the SDS (Siol.net) which tried to portray him as the one who took wrong decisions and was responsible for the lack of medical equipment at the outbreak of the epidemic."

The survey has also shown the LMŠ, the Social Democrats (SD) and the Left would win an outright majority if an election was held now, Mladina says under the headline Šarec's Comeback. Noting the survey was carried out before Tanja Fajon took over as SD leader, Repovž believes her leadership could even further strengthen the trio.

Mladina says that voters seem to have very quickly forgiven Šarec for pushing them into distress by resigning as prime minister at the end of January, which however does not mean an early election is anywhere near.

This is also why it is too early to speculate whether it would be better if some other party than his, for instance, the Left or SD, should take the leading position. It however means that Janša's coalition partners will change their behaviour, with some MPs perhaps considering defecting to opposition parties.

Demokracija: Anti-govt protests

STA, 4 June 2020 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija takes stock of Friday's bicycle protests in the latest editorial, finding that while everyone has a right to protest, police will have to demand the organisers acquire the permission to hold protests in order to protect those who do not protest.

Under the headline Dinner with Cyclists, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak writes that one of those spotted at the protests was Rajko Kenda, the former medical director of the UKC Ljubljana Paediatric Clinic, whom he sees as "caricature and pathetic cry of fighters for democracy".

"The man who ruined paediatrics and child surgery and who (...) knows about everything should have been pedalling an exercise bike at Dob [prison]."

Still, Biščak says that anyone has a right to protest against anything as protest is one of the forms of the freedom of speech.

"The problem is in understanding human freedoms. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has done much damage. There is much that has been thrown in there, including the right to prosperity. As a result the concepts of rights and freedoms have become totally mixed up."

The editor notes that as a result human rights are now also a right to housing, artistic expression, positive rights that pertain to an individual, while collective rights do not exist.

"Cyclists come to the protest as individuals. As a group, regardless of their numbers, they do not have any special freedoms (or rights).

"The first problem is the permission for the protest. They do not have one. They come and protest. This is wrong understanding of the rule of law. The permission for a protest rally is not designed for the authorities to check the content but so they know who provides the security and where and when the rally will be held (...)

"Consider what happened if ten of us gathered and we protested by driving in the middle of Slovenska Street. We would be captured like rabbits because we were only ten. That would mean the law of the stronger (...) It is unequal treatment before the law."

Noting that the protests held in support of Janez Janša in front of the Ljubljana court house in 2014 were held with the authorities' permission and in accordance with traffic regulations, Biščak says that while police now wisely let Friday cyclists their way, sooner or alter they will have to demand the organisers get the permission.

"Do not let them worry, they will get one, there is no dictatorship in Slovenia that would prevent anyone from protesting or expressing their views. However, in that way responsibility will be personalised and locations determined, which they will have to respect. So they do not disrupt life in the capital and those 99% of Ljubljana people who are not at the protest."

All our posts in this series are here

30 May 2020, 09:47 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 29 May 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: SDS to be left without partners in 2022

STA, 29 May 2020 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in Friday's editorial that the ruling Democrats (SDS) have turned a lot of people against themselves and set in motion a rising opposition movement including people who did not define themselves politically prior to the current situation.

"Unless [Janez] Janša introduces one of the numerous possible forms of undemocratic or semi-democratic regimes, the SDS will leave the government offices together with its perennial leader after the regular election in 2022 at the latest."

The paper argues that the more Janša and his allies keep "destroying Slovenia's immune system", including state institutions and civil society, the stronger response they will face in the next election.

A number of individuals and groups are ready to enter politics and oppose the current government, says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž, adding that UEFA boss Aleksander Čeferin probably won't do that. Nevertheless, Čeferin's recent statements and actions have shown that a clear opposition to Janša has been formed.

The Friday anti-government protests on bicycles have moreover revealed that people are increasingly determined to speak out and point to the prime minister's attacks, says Mladina.

Janša is aware that after the election he will not be able to form another coalition. Apart from New Slovenia (NSi), his party does not have any other serious partners left. "The Modern Centre Party (SMC) will not make it to parliament anymore, whereas the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) could achieve that feat only by turning away from Janša."

SMC MPs entered the SDS-led coalition with relatively simple intentions; they just wanted to somehow politically survive and secure jobs for later, Repovž says.

"From a perspective of someone who considers an MP status a job and has never deemed politics a calling that is an utterly normal and human approach."

Both parties, SMC and DeSUS knew then that this coalition would raise dust and that ideological issues would be reopened, says the editorial, headlined Putting Yourself in SMC and DeSUS Shoes.

However, they have failed to predict that such mass protests will be held every Friday and that European ambassadors and established international organisations promoting democratic standards will be expressing concern over the situation in Slovenia.

The coalition knows that protesters will soon come to the rallies without bicycles. Janša is thus trying to "behead and silence [public broadcaster] RTV Slovenija before that happens, whereas DeSUS and SMC are looking for "a political way out of this situation".

The two parties are under pressure with certain members up in arms. "Moreover, many a DeSUS and SMC member has spent past few Fridays on a bicycle."

Demokracija: UEFA boss to blame for Lombardy tragedy

STA, 28 May 2020 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija takes aim at the UEFA boss Aleksander Čeferin in the latest editorial, suggesting the Slovenian lawyer may soon be forced out of the job because of his role in the Atalanta-Valencia Champions League fixture in the fatal Covid-19 outbreak in Lombardy.

The editor-in-chief, Jože Biščak, writes that experts all but agree that the 19 February match in Milan's San Siro stadium was a "biological bomb that largely contributed to the epidemic disaster".

"Not just Atalanta fans, Valencia supporters too entered a Petri dish to go down in history as part of an unplanned experiment how mass sports events can become an epicentre of a global pandemic."

Biščak says that people of Lombardy were the first to point their accusing finger at UEFA and its boss Aleksander Čeferin, followed by others and that today UEFA is spoken of in social media "as a mafia responsible for the deaths of thousands".

He says the European football decision-makers could have cancelled the match or have it played to an empty stadium if they listened to epidemiologists rather than the WHO.

He says that instead of an apology or admission that UEFA takes part of the blame, Čeferin later chose to threaten national football associations that their clubs would not compete in European cup competitions if they ended football season early due to the pandemic.

While he says the support voiced for Čeferin in Slovenia is part of the deep state's strategy to clear him of all responsibility, Biščak adds: "Western Europe will never forgive Čeferin for his viral indifference and almost dictatorial attitude to some national associations.

"UEFA is not an organisation independent of political flows [...] Those in the know about (football and political) behind-the-scenes know well which political group contributed its decisive votes in 2016 and why he was the only candidate in 2019. And that no interview with the Guardian or such rags will help him [...]

"Humanity will defeat the virus and so will football survive the pandemic, no worries. Not because of UEFA, but despite it. Čeferin, who opened the Petri dish, may soon end up in it himself. Along with the company that befits him," concludes the piece headlined Petri Dish for Aleksander Č.

All our posts in this series are here

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