One of the very clear features of the “Freedom ” rule is the interpretation of the rule of law as subordinate to the political will of the authorities. On Wednesday, the former “independent ” journalist-turned-MP Mojca Šetinc Pašek explained this understanding of the state to the public at a meeting of the National Assembly’s Commission for Public Office and Elections, when she announced that she does not intend to abide by the Constitutional Court’s decision to suspend the implementation of parts of the new government’s amended Radio-Television Slovenia Act. Her words provoked a strong reaction from the opposition.
“And then we will probably have another session where we will have to start the procedures for dismissing these people who, after the suspension of parts of the Radio-Television Slovenia Act, are only doing the day-to-day business and have thus had their mandate extended indefinitely by the Constitutional Court,” said MP Mojca Šetinc Pašek. The controversial statement was met with strong reactions from a number of MPs from the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), including Dejan Kaloh, who said that “members of the Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda) are acting as if we live in the Wild West. From a position of power, they have become a super-state political formation. It is obvious that, in their opinion, RTV Slovenia must remain a 100-percent red media stronghold.”
Jelka Godec, leader of the SDS group of MPs, reacted similarly, writing: “A day before the Constitutional Court’s session, with item 3 – Petition for an assessment of the constitutionality of the Act on Amendments and Additions to the Act on Radio Television Slovenia – on the agenda, MP Mojca Pašek Šetinc reveals the true purpose of today’s session of the Commission for Public Office and Elections.”
The usurpation of the national media outlet was one of the measures announced by members of the current coalition even before they came to power. They started to implement their promise almost immediately after the government was sworn in. Since the mandates in the RTV management bodies were legally granted, the government had no choice but to adopt an amendment to the RTV Act, drastically restructuring the management bodies of the public media in question. This had two effects. The first is the abolition of the legally granted mandates during the Janez Janša government and the replacement of the politically undesirable management team. And the second is the complete usurpation of the public media by the transitional left, which places the power to appoint candidates to the RTV Council in the hands of various institutions and organisations controlled by the transitional left. If fully implemented, the amended law would create media domination by one political group over another.
A natural disaster for the left
The parties of the left have continuously demonstrated that control of RTV is of paramount importance to them. They have tabled the amendment of the law under the urgent procedure, which should be reserved for times of war, natural disasters or cases where failure to adopt the law could have irreparable consequences for democracy. Changes to the broadcasting authorities do not, of course, fall under any of these provisions. Despite its seriously controversial nature, the law was adopted and subsequently approved in a referendum. This was followed by a petition for a constitutional review, drafted by Dr Peter Gregorčič and Dr Matej Avbelj. The Constitutional Court then heard the arguments and suspended the implementation of the law.
This was followed by a visit of the European Commissioner Věra Jourová to the Constitutional Court, and authoritarian interviews with the Prime Minister, Robert Golob, where he expressed his regret at the fact that the government used the civilised methods of “depoliticising” RTV, and at the same time pointed out that the Freedom Movement coalition should have politically taken over RTV earlier and only then “depoliticised” the public institution.
Thus, we have reached the point where the highest representatives of the Freedom Movement coalition, one of them certainly being Mojca Šetinc Pašek, are announcing a fight against the rule of law. However, this may not even be necessary. Today, the Constitutional Court will be in session. It is being reported in the media that the Constitutional Court judges will allow the law to be implemented after all. They supposedly found a “new scenario,” according to investigative journalist Požar, which apparently already has the necessary majority of the votes in the Constitutional Court.