Friday

24th May 2019

Analysis

Slovenia's convicted ex-PM: down but refusing to be out

  • Janez Jansa - an indeliable part of the Slovenian political scene (Photo: consilium.europa.au)

For almost six years Slovenia's internal affairs were overshadowed by the so-called Patria affair in which one of the strongest men, Slovenia’s ex prime minister and the current opposition leader Janez Jansa was recently found guilty.

He was sentenced to two years in prison for taking bribes for his Slovenia Democratic Party (SDS) in 2007 from the Finnish military company Patria that was selling armoured vehicles to Slovenia at the time.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Now that chapter might end as Jansa must finally go to prison.

This week he announced via Twitter that he received an official court order by which he has to report to Dob prison on 20 June.

Nevertheless, he is insisting that the whole case is a plot against him and his party, to prevent their victory in next month’s early elections.

"How can the elections on 13 July be fair, if on 20 June the president of the party will be imprisoned. Who can win them?” he told local radio this week.

At the recent EU elections his party “with the most trustworthy team and the soundest programme,” as he put it, won the elections, getting three of Slovenia’s eight EP seats.

Now, ahead of the elections for the national parliament, Slovenia is in an awkward position: the country’s laws do not regulate for this kind of situation.

It is in theory possible to become a prime minister, even if one is in prison. Jansa can also run for a seat in the parliament despite being in prison.

This has the hallmarks of absurdity. Nevertheless Jansa does not want to step down as a party president, nor does he spell out whether he will run to be an MP.

A year ago he said that he would fight against the Court’s order with all legal and political means.

Throughout he has received strong support from the European People’s Party. Last month EPP leader Joseph Daul, while in Slovenia, said there should be a special EU body set up to supervise the judiciary in member states.

“[The] judiciary has to be under supervision in the same way as acts of the people. Judges have to be under surveillance by an organisation of lawyers and judges which is above them," Daul said.

Jansa and his party in recent years have repeatedly attacked Slovenia’s judiciary with the ex-PM saying a court that finds him innocent should be “created”.

Other political parties, like the Christian Democrats (NSI) or Slovenia’s People’s Party (SLS), are struggling to deal with the situation ahead of national elections.

Their common position is that they would like to cooperate with SDS, but not with Jansa. Leftist parties, on the other hand, feel powerless.

After the EU Parliament elections two coalition party presidents – Igor Luksic of the Social Democrats (S&D) and Gregor Virant of the Civil List (Alde) – resigned due to their respective party's election results.

In recent weeks, three new parties have appeared on the political scene.

One, led by the current centre-left prime minister Alenka Bratusek, is called the Alliance of Alenka Bratusek. The PM has urged the fragmented centre-left parties to reunite.

The second was founded by popular legal professor Miro Cerar and a third one, called "I Believe" was set up by Igor Soltes, who also won a seat in the European Parliament. Soltes wants to promote Slovenia as the “Trade mark for the quality of life”.

Slovenians, on the other hand, are quickly losing interest in politics.

At the EU elections, turnout was 24 percent, higher only than Slovakia and the Czech Republic.To make matters worse, 32 percent of the votes cast went to parties that did not win any seat.

Part of the reason for voters’ disillusion is the economic crisis.

Last year Slovenia was tipped as the next bailout candidate after Cyprus and was facing one of the highest borrowing costs in the eurozone. The other contributor is the dragging-out of the Patria case, which has sapped the country’s ability to look forward.

One of the many surprises at the recent EU elections in Slovenia was the appearance of the “Dream Job” Party. They got 3.5 percent of votes, a lot for a newly-created Facebook organisation whose main programme is to oppose democracy itself.

They did better than the nationalists, greens and even one of the governing coalition’s liberal parties. They call it a socio-political experiment. Arguing that politicians are insincere, the party picked its EU candidates by casting lots.

And this is maybe the best illustration of Slovenians' feelings towards politics today: many are convinced a simple lottery is better that voting.

It is in this bitter and fractured context that Slovenes will go to the urns in a month’s time.

Slovenia in political crisis

Both the ruling coalition party and main opposition party in Slovenia were plunged into disarray over the weekend.

The Slovenian commissioner's letter politics

There is a letter waiting for Alenka Bratusek, the would-be next EU commissioner in charge of energy union. A letter she does not want to pick up from the local post office in Slovenia, close to her home.

Anti-immigrant party wins Slovenia election

Some 25 percent of Slovenians have voted for the anti-immigrant Slovenia Democratic party headed by Janez Jansa, a former PM who spent six months in jail for corruption.

Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?

This is a political crisis unprecedented in Austria since the war: the resignation of the vice-chancellor, firing of the interior minister, the mass resignation of FPO ministers, a snap election, and a no-confidence vote in the Austrian parliament on Monday.

Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll

Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans looks like the big winner in the first exit poll from the 2019 European Parliament election. British voters also cast their ballots amid predictions their prime minister is about to fall.

News in Brief

  1. UK's May announces June 7 resignation date
  2. Ireland votes for EU election and divorce referendum
  3. Report: May to announce resignation plan on Friday
  4. Leading politicians: time for EU to have female leaders
  5. Poll: Finland's Green party to surge in EU elections
  6. High demand for postal voting in Denmark
  7. Some EU citizens turned away at UK polling stations
  8. Switzerland unlikely to sign draft EU deal

Magazine

The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted

It is a divisive 'Brussels bubble' debate: whether to give the European Parliament more of a say on who becomes the next European Commission president. But the issue goes right to the heart of European integration.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Latest News

  1. Strache scandal: how big a hit will Austrian far-right take?
  2. Italy train row exposes competing views of EU
  3. Dutch socialists on top in first EP election exit poll
  4. No usage data kept for EU parliament's 'Citizens' App'
  5. EU sanctions regime cannot be an 'EU Magnitsky Act'
  6. Polling booths open in UK's limbo EU election
  7. Dutch PM puts EU exit on agenda with election gamble
  8. EU development aid used to put European police in Senegal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us