On Friday, 20 March 2022, MEP Irena Joveva chatted live on Instagram with Jerca Korče, a National Assembly deputy and Vice-Chair of the LMŠ party. They touched on a number of interesting topics such as motherhood, women and young people in politics, demography and the current election campaign. They stressed, among other things, that politicians need to be aware of people’s real problems and expressed their conviction that the April elections will give a boost to the younger generation.

Korče and Joveva first chatted about their new roles in life, as they have both become mothers in the last year and are balancing motherhood and their work in the Slovenian and European Parliaments, respectively. Jerca Korče and her partner have agreed that she will return to the National Assembly after a few months, while her partner will take the rest of the parental leave. “I doubt that when he took parental leave, he had the right idea of what it would be like, because he now says that he is more tired than when he had to work twelve hours a day,” said Korče, who believes that a child really needs its mother by its side for the first five months, after which the father can take over, and that it is important for employers to be understanding of such decisions. However, she admits that balancing motherhood and work is exhausting. Joveva, too, wanted very much to be a mother: “I have always wished that someone should call me mum, but I don’t only want to be a mother, or a wife, or an MEP. Yes, it is exhausting, but the two of us see it as a challenge and I am now even happier and more eager to do certain things because I have someone in the next generation to think about.”

In the months after giving birth, both Korče and Joveva had to deal with chauvinistic and inappropriate comments. Although there aren’t many in everyday communication, they are all the more profuse in the virtual world. “This other world, the world of Twitter, allows for anonymous comments and trolls, and the things you read there make you wonder if it’s even possible that a human being would write something like that. Stay at home, go and breastfeed, I pity your child with a mother like that, and so on. I haven’t got used to this, much less accepted it, because we need to fight it, but I try not to let it get to me,” said Korče.

The two parliamentarians also commented on the statement by the current Minister of the Economy, Zdravko Počivalšek, who speculated with unplausible demographic goals that in ten years’ time there would be as many as three million Slovenes: “Such statements are inappropriate. It is up to every woman to decide whether she wants to have a child, and the state must provide the conditions for young people to be able to make this decision. If they are serious about demography, then they should start with tackling the housing problem,” insisted Korče, while Joveva agreed that the statement by Počivalšek was absurd. They mentioned the fun fact of the wider LMŠ team taking good care of the higher birth rate, with eleven babies born in this term, three of them to the teams of MEPs Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj.

They also touched on the painful experience of both of them   ̶  spontaneous abortion. Jerca Korče was clear: “Abortion is a constitutional right and a free choice. To curtail this right is to infringe on a woman’s freedom. To me, that is final and there is nothing else to discuss. I will always fight for this right.” The two women agreed that it was important that they have spoken out about this experience because as politicians sharing their personal traumatic experience, they have shown other women that they are not alone.

From here on, the conversation focused on more political topics. LMŠ is a party that gives opportunities to young people in every way and opens up space for them. In turn, young people are becoming more and more engaged, believes Korče:

“Since the referendum on water, I see that the generation that has recently been given the right to vote is much more engaged than mine used to be. When I speak to students at round tables, they view politics differently, they have much more formed opinions and they are much more aware of what the right to vote means. I expect great things from them when they stand up for justice and articulate their political views. These elections will give a boost to the younger generation.”

Both Korče and Joveva are members of committees on culture and are concerned about the brutal interference of politics in culture and the media. “Straight after the elections, media laws will have to be passed to prevent the influence of politics and enable the appointment of professional staff. The role of culture, freelance artists and art has always been to criticise and when you are in office you have to accept this as something good because it holds up a mirror to you”, stressed Jerca Korče.

The two parliamentarians also expressed dissatisfaction with the current number of women in politics, as it does not reflect their actual interest in politics, but rather the attitude of parties that do not place women candidates in seats they have a real chance of winning. “Politics is not an exclusively male world, this is a misconception. If you want to enter politics, don’t think about this and don’t let it scare you away”, added Joveva, who also stressed the responsibility of the media, which in the case of women politicians often report on their dress, hairstyle, marital status, whether they have children, etc.

The final topic of the conversation was the election campaign. According to Korče, the most important thing for a politician is to keep in touch with reality. “As a politician, you have to be aware of people’s real problems. If you become too removed, you no longer see that people are on the edge of survival, that they live on the minimum wage … It is only on the basis of this understanding that you can adopt the right measures.” A significant lack of such understanding can also be observed in the European Parliament, added Joveva: “With so many Member States and MEPs, this is even more noticeable. When making your choice as a voter at the polling station, it is precisely this that you should base your support for a politician on.” What they also find disconcerting is the normalisation and consequent growth of blatant and shameless lies in politics, as it is very difficult to fight lies with the truth.

And where does Jerca Korče see herself in the future? “As a politician, I don’t ask myself where I see myself. You shouldn’t ask yourself this question, because it means you are only interested in getting a political post. You have to ask yourself what you are going to do for the community,” she concluded.

You can watch the full conversation on MEP Joveva’s Instagram profile.

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