At a time when there is a lot of talk on the political floor of the European Union about the interference of foreign powers in the democratic processes of European countries, it is becoming clear in Slovenia that one of these foreign powers is the European Union itself. Namely, the European Union finances certain key non-governmental organisations in Slovenia that are used by political parties of the left as a tool for shaping and controlling public opinion and, when necessary, for mobilising the electorate. One such example is the civil initiative Voice of the People (“Glas ljudstva” in Slovenian), which is directly funded by the European Commission through the European Citizen Action Service (ECAS). The leader of the opposition, Janez Janša, has announced a debate in the European Parliament on this issue, and MEP Milan Zver announced on Wednesday that he had asked the European Commission when it intends to stop funding the Voice of the People.
“It is amazing to see what kinds of extremists the European Commission is funding with our money. At the suggestion of a well-paid team sitting in Ljubljana. A debate in the European Parliament on this topic needs to happen urgently,” tweeted Janez Janša, commenting on one of the projects carried out by the controversial organisation during the elections to the National Assembly. As already mentioned, MEP Milan Zver has addressed two questions to the European Commission, namely, when it intends to stop funding the Voice of the People initiative and whether it will initiate procedures to recover the money that has already been paid to the organisation in question. The MEP also asked how the European Commission intends to improve its funding and monitoring mechanisms in the future, in order to ensure that similar funding of political campaigns of extremist groups does not occur again in the future.
The public debate was triggered by the online project “volitvomat.si,” where eligible voters (or, in fact, anyone) can answer a few questions and the online application then offers them the candidate that is most aligned with their political views and opinions. However, the project is methodologically pretty flawed. Even a short test shows that the questions asked by the app are often biased, or the selection of questions itself leads to the selection of candidates for whom the electorate would otherwise never have voted. For example: it is difficult to negatively respond to the question of whether a municipality should provide quality public transport that is accessible to all, because… Who would ever think that public transport should not be accessible to all? It is very likely that this is not a methodological flaw, but a deliberate design of the app, which preys on young and undecided voters by offering them candidates from the left part of the political spectrum on the basis of value signalling.
But more striking than the controversial web projects are the various “additional” activities of the controversial organisation. The organisation is known as one of the biggest agitators within the political process, a constant participant in the protest and a radical opponent of the Slovenian centre-right. During the term of the government of Janez Janša, the organisation participated in and organised protests that often turned violent. However, it has certainly not contributed to the Slovenian political process in any way, as it has been far too defined, and its leaders, including Jaša Jenull, are well-known left-wing activists who work in concert with the parties of the left.
Thus, during the government of Janez Janša, “civil-society projects” took place in the centre of Ljubljana, clearly inciting violence against officials of the centre-right government. “The rallies were usually marked by extreme symbols of the communist regime. In Republic Square on Fridays, protesters lit bonfires, set fire to chairs symbolising the chairs of certain MPs, played football with balls on which the heads of ministers were drawn, and put up posters with the faces of MPs with threats and swastikas next to them. In front of the building of the Ministry of Culture, protesters set up tables and chairs with red paint smeared all over them, symbolising blood, and the names of the people they were targeting were written on the tables,” MEP Milan Zver wrote in his parliamentary question.
If you are still unsure about the character of the so-called “Voice of the People,” just take a look at the NGOs that make it up. This is an umbrella organisation that brings together such supporters of “humanism” and “democracy” as the Association of the National Liberation Movement of Slovenia (Zveza združenj borcev za vrednote NOB Slovenije – ZZB NOB), the now infamous women’s rights activists, the Institute of the 8th of March (Inštitut 8. marec), who told the alleged sexual victims of Dušan Smodej not to reveal their experiences to the public (after all, they were just too closely connected), or the self-proclaimed Taxi Drivers’ Union, led by the vulgar Dejan Jefim, otherwise known for his borderline hate speech and vulgar online outbursts.
Is the EU aware of how the taxpayers’ money is being spent?
This raises the question of whether decision-makers in the EU are even aware of the way they intervene in the Slovenian political process. Are they aware of the fact that by sponsoring projects such as the Voice of the People, they are at the same time sponsoring the propaganda activities of one political option, which has a direct impact on public opinion and the mobilisation of the electorate in the run-up to key referendums? If they are aware of this, then this is direct interference in the democratic process, which undermines the fairness of the elections, which is the basis for a major international scandal. The other scandalous possibility is that they are genuinely unaware of how the taxpayers’ money is being funnelled into unchecked pockets or the pockets of the left.
When the European Commission washes its hands
When we sent press questions to the European Commission Representation in Slovenia following the latest scandalous publication by the Voice of the People, they replied that the views expressed by NGOs that are part of the ECAS project do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union or the European Commission.
Non-governmental organisations only by the name
All this raises a fundamental question about the nature of NGOs. By definition, NGOs should exercise control over governments and their actions. But given the widespread practice of state funding of these organisations in recent years, one can rightly ask how much of the “non-governmental” remains within these organisations and to what extent they have turned into extensions of specific political options. As far as Slovenia is concerned, the answer is clear.