“This was clearly a previously-agreed upon and staged creation of a state of chaos at the pre-election show by the Constitutional Arch Coalition parties, which is actually a disgusting political abuse and political pressuring of the public RTV,” journalist Jože Možina commented on the move of the parties of the Constitutional Arch Coalition – namely, their leaving of the pre-election debate, which was hosted by journalist Igor Pirkovič. The management team of the national RTV condemns any abuse of the public media outlet and its employees for the scoring of political points.
In the pre-election debate in question, the following representatives of parties were present: Janez Janša, President of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), Robert Golob, President of the Freedom Movement (Gibanje Svoboda), Zdravko Počivalšek, representative of the Let’s Connect Slovenia movement (Povežimo Slovenijo), Tanja Fajon, President of the Social Democrats party (Socialni demokrati – SD), Matej Tonin, President of the New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi), Luka Mesec, coordinator of the Left party (Levica), Zmago Jelinčič, President of the Slovenian National Party (Slovenska nacionalna stranka – SNS), Marjan Šarec, President of the List of Marjan Šarec (Lista Marjana Šarca – LMŠ), Dejan Podgoršek, representative of Our Country party (Naša dežela), Alenka Bratušek, President of the Party of Alenka Bratušek (Stranka Alenke Bratušek – SAB), Ljubo Jasnič, representative of the Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (Demokratska stranka upokojencev Slovenije – DeSUS), and Ivan Gale, representative of the joint list of Our Future and the Good State parties (Naša prihodnost in Dobra država). The host of the show was Igor Pirkovič.
However, due to not agreeing with the way the show was run, Zmago Jelinčič was the first to leave the studio towards the end of the show, and then Luka Mesec, Tanja Fajon, Ljubo Jasnič, Marjan Šarec and Alenka Bratušek also followed him. The other representatives of the parties behaved in a dignified manner and waited for the show to end.
Jelinčič commented on what happened on Twitter, writing: “The Constitutional Arch coalition has no balls to do something on its own. They followed the brave move of the SNS party but with a different undertone. Ballless!”
They staged an attack on RTV
According to many, the move of the representatives of the Constitutional Arch Coalition was planned with the aim of discrediting and putting pressure on RTV, which was also clear from the opinions of viewers, expressed on Twitter. Analysts noted that the representatives of the parties in question did not find themselves in an environment that heavily favoured them, as they were also faced with unpleasant questions, which is the essence of journalism. But politicians should be able to control themselves even in such situations, and their reactions show that they were used to servile and boring TV show hosts in the past. The success of the show is also clear from the data on viewership – namely, the show got a 32.7 percent viewership, which means that the show was in first place in terms of viewership among Slovenian viewers – and far ahead of anything else.
Here are some of the responses we found on Twitter: journalist Luka Svetina wrote: “Let’s leave aside the people who dance and Zmago’s infamous departure from the studio, this humiliating behaviour of some people towards the host of the show and talking about who should be hosting the show or how it should look like, has one common denominator. Unpleasant questions, which have never before been asked on Slovenian television.” Federico V. Potočnik shared a similar opinion, as he wrote that apparently, the leftists just realised what independent journalism is actually like – and they do not like it.
Some users expressed their support for the host of the show – Andreja Sum wrote: “Dear Mr journalist from the public RTV, I want to express my full support and congratulate you for staying calm and focused with all of the inciting circus caused by the SD party, the Left, SAB, LMŠ, the Good State and the Freedom Movement. I applaud you personally and the leadership of RTV Slovenia as well.”
Another person who commented on the debacle was Minister of the Interior, Aleš Hojs, who wrote that with their demonstration of aggression on RTV, members of the Constitutional Arch Coalition showed how they intend to run the country. Edvard Kadič also pointed out that the pre-election debate in question was a great example of the current situation in our political space. “While the right side is working hard for our country, on the left, the system is falling apart,” he wrote. And Miro Haček added that “Every capable politician should be able to control themself or the situation both when it is in his favour, and even more so when it is not.”
Response of the RTV leadership
The leadership of RTV also responded to what happened, writing: “Tonight, the last pre-election debate was held on RTV, between the presidents of parliamentary parties, before Sunday’s parliamentary elections. With this, we regret that certain representatives of political parties left the show prematurely. We also regret that the creators of RTV Slovenia were being offended during the broadcast. We want to emphasise that RTV Slovenia is an autonomous institution, its management strongly supports journalistic and editorial independence and condemns any abuse of the public media and its creators to gain political points. We reiterate our call to the public, and in particular to political representatives, for a culture of dialogue and appeasement of passion. As a reminder, during the election campaign, as many as 14 debates took place on Television Slovenia, where political parties were able to exchange their views on various current topics.”