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What Germany can learn from Slovenia
Illustrated notes from a changing country / #43
Good morning from Slovenia (I am here on holiday; therefore fewer postings these days),
There is something important that Germany can learn in advance from this beautiful little country in the southeast of Europe.
In the last parliamentary election in 2022, the populist incumbent Janez Jansa was ousted by Robert Golob, who is now the current prime minister of Slovenia.
Jansa is known as a right-wing populist and an outspoken supporter of Donald Trump. He is also an ally of Viktor Orban, the right-wing populist prime minister of Hungary.
What Slovenia has already overcome, Germany might still have to face (hopefully not): Getting rid of a populist ruler. So the exciting question is: How did Slovenia do it?
In Slovenia, it worked like this.
It started with widespread concerns about the country‘s direction two years before the election (curtailed press freedoms, interfered in judicial affairs, eroded civil liberties). That helped mobilise Slovenes to turn out to vote in high numbers. These people were encouraged by opposition parties and civil society groups. In addition, there was an attractive alternative to Jansa's Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). Robert Golob, once a manager of an energy company, had founded The Freedom Movement Party just a few months before the election.
„Novelty has a strong appeal in politics“, Tim Haughton, an associate professor of European politics at the University of Birmingham, and Alenka Krasovec, a professor of political science at the University of Ljubljana, wrote in the Washington Post after the election in April 2022, explaining Golob‘s victory (his party won 34.5 per cent of the vote, compared with 23.6 per cent for Jansa‘s SDS). „The recipe for new party success often lies in a combination of newness, anti-corruption appeals and the party leader‘s perceived competence,“ the two scholars wrote.
Concerned society, successful mobilisation and attractive alternatives are the three reasons that can oust a populist from power—at least until the democratic institutions are not occupied yet. So if you want to get rid of populists, you have to do it quickly. Slovenia gives hope to other states that this is possible. That's another reason why I love this country.
Greetings from Slovenia,
Tell your friends!
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