Moral populism, ‘Orbánism’ and fascism

Slovenia before the EP elections

In Slovenia, a lively public debate is underway ahead of the EP elections in May. Talking points range from the new moral populism, prompted by the case of a politician who disgraced himself by stealing a sandwich, to the legacy of World War II and the European debate on migration.

Three events have marked the run-up to the European elections in Slovenia thus far. The first is the resignation of an MP from the increasingly popular party of prime minister Marjan Šarec, the List of Marjan Šarec (LMŠ), a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group (ALDE). Surveys from Brussels predict LMŠ to take three or four of Slovenia’s eight MEP seats.

The MP in question, Darij Krajčič, was dramatically sacrificed by the government in the wake of an unusual incident. After being made to wait quite some time to pay for a sandwich in a shop, he angrily walked out without paying, claiming that he wanted to ‘test the security system’. He took the sandwich into parliament and revealed his ‘experiment’ in a public debate. Then he went back and paid for the sandwich. The provocative act attracted considerable media attention. Concerned that this could be detrimental to its prospects of success in the upcoming elections, the LMŠ demanded that the MP resign, which he did.

How to win (and loose) a debate

Janez Janša and his liberal-conservative Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS), the leading opposition party and an EPP member, never miss an opportunity to take sides with Viktor Orbán in the debate over the suspension of Fidesz from the European People’s Party (EPP). The Slovenian MEP Milan Zver (SDS) has set the tone, branding Orbán ‘the sole winner of the migration debate on the EU level’.

In the meantime, a petition is calling for the resignation of the Italian president of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani. In a speech delivered near Trieste, Tajani referred to parts of Croatia and Slovenia as Italian, a somewhat revisionist interpretation of the Slovenian-Italian border formed during World War II. He then denied fascist tendencies. Janša reacted by stating that Slovenian communists killed more Slovenians than the fascists.

Thus, a new moral populism toppled an LMŠ MP, while a new political ‘purism’ took hold of the SDS. Completing the triad of developments that form the preface to the European elections is, a dispute over contested fascism. The likely winner of the elections is the SDS, which will continue to defend Orbán against the EU.

First published on 3 April 2019 at Eurozine.

This text is protected by copyright: © Boris Vezjak / Eurozine. If you are interested in republication, please contact the editorial team.
Copyright information on pictures, graphics and videos are noted directly at the illustrations. Cover picture: Ljubljana, Slovenia. Photo: © iStock / RomanBabakin

Mood of the Union

The series Mood of the Union collects articles on all 28 EU member states. The series is supported by ERSTE Foundation and the National Endowment for Democracy.

In the Mood of the Union, partner editors of Eurozine from across the continent, together with further journalists and analysts, will be reporting on attitudes towards the elections and what is at stake at the national level. The aim is to provide a more detailed glimpse than one would usually catch from the bird’s-eye view of national media. The series is curated by Agnieszka Rosner and edited by contributing editor Ben Tendler.

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