“However, similar and concrete abuses have already occurred before the elections to the National Assembly. The most visible example was the campaign of the 8th of March Institute (Inštitut 8. marec) in the case of the Water Act. Today, we have reported suspected violations of the referendum campaign to the Court of Audit and the police because we believe that the campaign was illegally financed from abroad…” said Nejc Brence, Vice-President of the Slovenian Democratic Youth (Slovenska demokratska mladina – SDM), the youth wing of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) at Thursday’s press conference.
On Thursday’s press conference, the Slovenian Democratic Youth focused in particular on the 8th of March Institute. They clarified the reasons for reporting the Institute to the relevant institutions, so an investigation could be launched into controversial campaign financing. It was found that the Institute’s pre-election and pre-referendum campaigns had been illegally financed from abroad. At the press conference, the SDM Vice-President Nejc Brence began by highlighting the abuse of electoral law in the run-up to the elections to the National Assembly, when around 100 organisations joined together to form the Voice of the People initiative and then carried out a negative campaign against the then-government of Prime Minister Janez Janša, in favour of the current government coalition led by Robert Golob. Brence also quoted an extremely important figure concerning the taxpayers – he pointed out that around 140 million euros had been paid out to around 100 organisations in recent years (based on publicly available data from the web application Erar that shows the use of public money).
Brence: “And the fact that this was a campaign against the Janša government is not something I came up with – these are the words of Tea Jarc, one of the most prominent initiators of this initiative in question.” Jarc herself said that they were “encouraging people to defeat the previous government,” and not just in April 2022, but three times, or whenever necessary. Brence pointed out that “rewards have been coming in” for the campaign in question ever since the current government took office (he was referring to the period from the 1st of June 2022 to the 17th of March 2023). During that period, €9.3 million has been paid into the accounts of the organisations in question. A number of prominent representatives of the organisations have also received various positions or even jobs in public administration. “All of this is going on at a time when the government says there is no money for pensioners, for young people, students, school pupils, firefighters, nurses.”
“But when we look at the figures, we realise that there is, in fact, enough money available, but the priorities are somewhere else,” said Brence, referring to the funding of pro-government non-governmental organisations. For the government, organisations such as the Slovenian Philanthropy, Maska Ljubljana, and others like them, are more important than the aforementioned problems. “In our opinion, this is a deliberate misuse of taxpayers’ funds, an indirect financing of a political campaign by some NGOs that are not actually NGOs at all, given that these organisations were, before the start of this government, like some kind of anti-government organisations, but today they appear in the circle of pro-government organisations,” Brence said.
The funds for the referendum campaign came from abroad, which is illegal!
“However, similar and concrete abuses have already occurred before the elections to the National Assembly. The most visible example was the campaign of the 8th of March Institute in the case of the Water Act. Today, we have reported suspected violations of the referendum campaign to the Court of Audit and the police because we believe that the campaign was illegally financed from abroad. We called on the competent authorities to immediately launch an investigation against the Institute, in accordance with their powers…” According to Brence, three key points were made. The first is that in 2021, the 8th of March Institute received 30 thousand euros from the German Guerrilla Foundation, an organisation that uses funding to promote far-left activists, organisations and campaigns.
The organisation in question is based in Germany and has no branch in Slovenia. The money that the organisation gave to the 8th of March Institute, therefore, came from abroad. The Guerilla Foundation has organised several actions around the world, one of the most visible of which was when activists threw red paint (which was supposed to represent blood) at various state institutions and cultural monuments. They caused damage of millions of euros. Brence: “Apparently, the 8th of March Institute recognised itself as a far-left foundation and thus decided to draw funds from the Guerilla Foundation.” The second point is that the Institute applied to the tender with the intention of campaigning, as is clearly shown on the Guerrilla Foundation website. The Water Act is also listed among the administrative projects. The details of the implementation of the campaign are given on the website. It is clearly stated that the campaign was financed from abroad.
We are all equal before the law: will the 8th of March Institute be fined 20 thousand euros?!
The collection of 40 thousand signatures and the referendum campaign itself were financed from abroad. Under the third point, the SDM writes about the legality of such funding. The Institute even registered as an official campaign organiser during the elections to the National Assembly, which means that they were supposed to adhere to the Electoral and Referendum Campaign Act (in fact, this act also applies to the initiative the Voice of the People). The act clearly defines what campaigning means – it is any kind of solicitation of the electorate. Another key point is that the Institute was the official organiser of the campaign.
The act clearly states that a campaign organiser cannot raise funds from foreign natural and legal persons, which, in the case of the Institute, is a violation of the act in question. Brence: “In our opinion, the case is a violation of the Electoral and Referendum Campaign Act, which carries a fine of between six and 20 thousand euros.” He concluded by expressing the hope that the institutions will investigate the case correctly, stressing that we are all equal before the law and expressing the hope that the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia will finally start to be respected.