Liberal Slovenian election winner branded as pro-Putin by defeated rival

Liberal Slovenian election winner branded as pro-Putin by defeated rival

Successful Slovenian prime ministerial candidate Robert Golob, who defeated outgoing populist Janez Janša in last weekend’s general election, is pro-Russian, according to Janša.

“You really called those pro-Russian guys ‘liberals’? Check your sources, please,” Janša tweeted, tagging the New York Times, Reuters and other media groups.

Janša said Golob’s Freedom Party had an “anti-European, pro-Russian background”.

He shared a photo of Ljubljana’s mayor Zoran Janković, who endorsed Golob’s campaign, receiving a medal from Russian President Vladimir Putin several years earlier.

He claimed that on March 20 that Freedom Movement Vice-President Marta Kos said Slovenia was interested in reestablishing relations with Russia and Janša helped Slovenia get closer to Washington.

Janša tweeted, “powerful politicians, decorated by Putin’s medals, try to push Slovenia back to the Russian sphere of influence”.

Golob said he hopes to form a government formed by mid-June.

Golob has made his first public appearances since he tested Covid-positive ahead of the general election.

He only left business for politics several months ago and is set to become Slovenia’s next prime minister. Golob’s Freedom Movement convincingly won the election, defeating the right-wing Slovenian Democratic Party of current Prime Minister Janez Jansa.

The Freedom Movement, a liberal-green party, is expected to form a coalition with the centre-left Social Democrats and the Left party.

Only five parties exceeded the 4 per cent threshold to win parliamentary representation.

Golob said he wanted wider support for what he described as “restructuring” in the former Yugoslav republic of 2 million during the next decade.

“We have to carry out an internal reform. We will try to reach a national agreement for the new era in Slovenia,” he announced.

Jansa has faced accusations of curbing civic liberties and pushing traditionally moderate Slovenia to the right.

Dr Alem Maksuti, a political scientist in Ljubljana, said: “In the last two years, Slovenia has found itself in the company of countries in which laws are disrespected, free and independent media are being destroyed, and the police process citizens who criticise the government on social media, following the prime minister’s orders.”

He said a new liberal coalition in parliament must unite to show a viable alternative to Putin-style populism.

“The only answer to Janša’s authoritarianism is this mentality of rationalism, which categorically refuses to cooperate with destructive politics and enables a political force to emerge, in cooperation with the left-wing, socialist and liberal parties, that will ensure Slovenia’s normalisation and the restoration of trust in politics.

“Without it, we run the risk of partial interests and minor narcissistic differences again taking us into a space of instability dominated by those who build their political project on exclusion and hatred towards different-minded people,” he argued.

Robert Golob. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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