You completely subjugate the media. As well as justice and the prosecution. All state subsystems. At the same time, you build a powerful apparatus, funded by the national and/or European coffers. Which is, in fact, taxpayers’ money that is being channelled through projects to your friends, while you can use it to build a palace for your father which is not far from the capital city of the country you are running, and as you go along you funnel “surpluses” of money into the “media” of your political ally in a neighbouring country.

Because these “media” are essential for the current government in this neighbouring country. For spreading hatred, disinformation, for manipulating, lying, discrediting opponents and preserving a parallel reality for an information bubble in which “the right” is being encouraged.

The two authoritarian regimes in the two countries I described above are likely to consolidate power in the coming years, after winning the elections on 3 and 4 April respectively. Apparently forever. The opposition never even stood a chance. And this really should be a wake-up call for us in Slovenia (the neighbouring country referred to above). It is almost impossible to recover from such a situation. When democracy is gone and there is only a corrupt clique under the leadership of one party. The Party. When they pretend that this is one of the visions of Europe’s future, it is more reminiscent of authoritarian regimes in the east.

Every additional year – it needn’t be a year – even every additional month with Janez Janša in power could mean a similar thing for Slovenia. The election on 24 April will indeed be historic and perhaps the most important ever. There is enough choice and, contrary to how “the right” is portraying it, pluralism is on “the left”. I put these in quotes on purpose, because it is down to Janša that we are divided into the left and the right. Everything that is not the SDS or their satellite is the left. This simplistic binarity suits them, as they have to create some kind of enemies, much like there is a need – according to them – to “balance the media” because “balanced media” of the kind they have in Hungary make sure that the right Party wins. But … do you know what is sad about all this? The fact that Orban, Vučić and Janša have destroyed the right in their countries. Throughout this time and with all this money, they have not been able to create some kind of a European right-wing party, but rather a really miserly populism with supporters who believe they are smarter than everyone else. They would like to have their own public media outlet, their own parallel universes. The situation is so bad that it would look comical if it were not so sad. It is also sad that a certain percentage of people vote for them no matter how much long-term damage they cause, when in fact – if I may paraphrase (in a slightly censored manner) Marcel Štefančič – there are not many of them, for f***’s sake, and we know exactly who they are.

Witnessing the subjugation of the media, the judiciary, agencies, cultural institutions, the punishing of civil society … we see attempts to silence, step by step, the critical voices and to stop the prosecution of corruption, and fundamentally, attempts to subjugate or make people walk away by appointing politicised leadership, by shrinking budgets, discrediting everyone and endeavouring to take all the joy out of working in these sectors.

In the European Parliament, this policy, this “ideology” is kept on the sidelines. Despite its membership in the European People’s Party (EPP), the SDS is on the outer fringes of the populist right in the EU, while unfortunately this is mainstream in Slovenia and destroys not only our institutions, but also the general climate and public debate. Certain politicians – we know exactly who they are! – have made all this possible and still make it possible. Because of their own interests.

Ironically, it is precisely building on the historical ressentiment of some anti-communism feeling (“anyone but the left!”) that is leading the right to an authoritarian one-party system subordinated to the Leader with Stalinist methods that socialism in Slovenia had never known. I know that, even though I was born in 1989.

After the election, the democratic parties need to prove that they can take better care of the people, even though the current government has destroyed state subsystems to a large extent and left the Treasury empty. That was, of course, the plan. The right, meanwhile, desperately needs an overhaul, because such a “spring” is actually a winter where only those close to the fireplace of flaming forint can keep warm.

I have not been in politics long but if I know anything, I know that this time it will be about the very democratic order of Slovenia.

Let’s all go vote! There are more of us, for f***’s sake!

– Irena

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