EU MONITOR: Backsliding of democracy in Slovenia under right-wing populist Janez Janša

In his latest EU Monitor, Žiga Faktor examines the backsliding of democracy in Slovenia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Amid the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic in Europe, Slovenia experienced a major political shift, as Janez Janša, leader of conservative SDS party, was appointed as a new Prime minister of Slovenia, filling the political vacuum created after a resignation of a former PM Marjan Šarec earlier this year. With Janša’s strong ties to Hungarian PM Viktor Orban, his endorsement of right-wing populist rhetoric and ferocious verbal attacks on journalists and established media, many fear that Slovenia’s democratic principles are at stake, while the situation can be further exacerbated by the current state of coronavirus emergency in which the new government can entrench its power.

Specific journalists also became victims of defamation on social media, such as Meta Roglič, Suzana Perman, Klara Širovnik, or most prominently Blaž Zgaga, a profound investigative reporter, who was cooperating with The Guardian or The Observer and is currently a correspondent to RSF .As a part of emergency measures adopted by the government in response to the outbreak of Covid-19, public gatherings were prohibited, which was also effective for daily press conferences of the Crisis Headquarters, meaning that those would be held without journalists, who could only send their questions in advance through email. Moreover, reporting on some areas directly linked to the pandemic, such as sanitary situation, was prohibited under a risk of imprisonment, while access to basic information about governmental response to the health crisis was limited to press conferences only. Mr. Zgaga contacted Crisis Headquarters, enquiring on the necessity of these limitations and called for a stronger protection of journalists under these new restrictions. Instead of receiving a response, Crisis Headquarters announced that Mr . Zgaga and a couple of other prominent public figures such as Slavoj Žižek, world-famous philosopher, escaped from a quarantine after being diagnosed with COVID-Marx/Lenin, an exaggerated disinformation which was later taken over by pro-government media, creating a smear campaign, as anonymous social media users started sending death threats to Mr. Zgaga. 

You can read the whole EU monitor article using the PDF button on the right side. 

#EU # Slovenia # Democracy

Žiga Faktor
Deputy Director & Head of Brussels Office

Expertise: European integration of Western Balkans, EU enlargement, Slovenian Politics and EU-Turkey relations

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