Robert Golob’s government was sworn in exactly one year ago. On the 1st of June 2022, Slovenia got its most aggressive transitional government ever. We spoke to Dr Matevž Tomšič, a Professor at the School of Advanced Social Studies, about its achievements. Tomšič said that we are dealing with incompetent politics, driven and motivated by something completely different than the well-being of fellow citizens. It is motivated by an ideological fight with its opponents.
We first asked sociologist Matevž Tomšič about Tuesday’s press conference, at which the Prime Minister, together with his coalition partners, proclaimed the “normalisation of the country” as his greatest achievement. As we have already reported, he is very similar to the former Prime Minister Miro Cerar in this aspect, who cited the “stability of the government” as his greatest achievement.
Tomšič cynically replied that he would agree with this statement, but only on the condition that “normalisation is understood in the same way as it was understood in communist times, when the Prague Spring was crushed in Czechoslovakia in 1968. When the Soviet Union removed the domestic reformist authorities, the period of ‘normalisation’ also began. It was a period when a rigid, dogmatic, communist regime was re-established. This is that same kind of normalisation. The word is being used in the sense of establishing a new single belief.”
The analyst then explained that the government is really only active in the area of ideological issues, in the sense of restoring the former system. As he explained, this is reflected in the honouring of Janez Zemljarič with a state funeral and honours, the return of the statues of communist autocrats to the Brdo state complex, the abolition of the Museum of Slovenian Independence, and the abolition of the commemoration day for the victims of communist violence. “This is about normalisation in the sense that things are becoming as monochrome and as one-dimensional as the authorities want them to be,” he explained.
An aimless prime minister
The Prime Minister, together with the Social Democrats party (Socialni demokrati – SD) President Tanja Fajon and the Left party (Levica) coordinator Luka Mesec, then listed some of the other moves they want to present to the public as achievements. In recent months, he has also come under heavy criticism from the left for his lack of measures that would actually improve citizens’ lives. As a result, he has decided to stop making political promises.
These have a negative connotation in the public mind because they are seen as false promises in themselves. But political promises have a purpose. The purpose is that you can judge a politician by how many of the promised objectives he has achieved. Tomšič answered the question of how citizens can judge the work of the Prime Minister if we do not know more than the general guidelines of his work: “In most areas, the government is either inactive or unsuccessful. The only place where it is “successful” is in imposing its own ideology or restoring the ideologies of the previous regime. Therefore, the Prime Minister has apparently realised that if he does not make promises, nobody can accuse him of not sticking to his word.”
“It is normal for a politician, after all, to present a programme before the elections, to set goals, which could be considered promises. Citizens can then monitor whether or not these promises have come true. Here, we are dealing with ad-hoc incompetent politics, and the only thing it is committed to is an ideological struggle with those who do not support the left-wing ideology,” explained the political analyst.
Tomšič then added: “We have a prime minister who goes from one extreme to the other. He promised a lot of things at the beginning, it was a general promise. He didn’t set specific goals, and now he’s finding that he can’t even achieve the general goals.”
Price regulation as ideology
The citizens of Slovenia are probably most pressed by two specific problems at the moment – namely, the situation in healthcare and the cost of living. The rising prices, because this concerns our ability to survive economically, and healthcare, from which patients benefit less and less every year. The major contributors to the rising costs of living are the prices of food and energy. In the area of rising food prices, the government has done nothing in one year, with the exception of monitoring the prices of basic food products. After one year, they have now said that the government will monitor prices in the food chain from farmer to retailer for six months and then decide what to do.
Tomšič pointed out that the government’s decision on how to tackle food prices is highly unusual, since, not long ago, government representatives in the National Assembly claimed, on the basis of the prices of baskets of basic foods, that food in Slovenia had become cheaper. “Either they are not actually monitoring food prices, or they are so disconnected from reality,” he pointed out. He then explained that we are no longer in a time when the state just sets prices as it wants to. Except in certain specific sectors, but it is mainly the market that sets prices. While the state can regulate them, in principle, the cure for rising prices is better competition and more competition. “But here, the ruling establishment is not in favour of more competition, but thinks in a typically statist way,” Tomšič observed.
When asked whether this is also a cultural struggle disguised as a fight against the rising prices, Tomšič said: “Price regulation can be used for an ideological struggle or for the imposition of ideologies.”
The creation of a ministry as an achievement
Yesterday’s press conference also presented another “achievement”, namely the creation of the Ministry of a Solidarity Based Future, headed by Simon Maljevac, a party bigwig from the Left party (Levica). When asked whether the Minister can even declare the creation of the Ministry as his achievement, instead of talking about the achievements of the Ministry itself, Tomšič replied that the creation itself is nothing special and that it simply follows bureaucratic logic and statist thinking, which assumes that it is the state that can solve all of society’s problems. “We don’t need such ministries. We should abolish them rather than create them. The same applies to the entire civil service. At the very least, we should reduce its size, not keep multiplying state bodies. It often happens in the civil service that new bodies and institutions are created for their own sake. Or they have the purpose of providing a job for loyal political cadres.”
An immature electorate
We concluded our conversation with the political analyst by talking about the electorate that continues to support this kind of inactivity and inefficiency. He said that the electorate is still quite immature. “The Slovenian electorate falls for the trick of new faces again and again. I wouldn’t count on the voters’ great rationality or expect that sooner or later they will see the error of their ways,” he explained, adding that in Slovenia, the media creates an alternative reality driven by a media monopoly that supports every left-wing government, and thus also Robert Golob. “This indoctrination by the media is thus producing its results,” Tomšič concluded.