Janez Janša and his Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) lost power in the parliamentary elections on Sunday to the liberal green Freedom Movement led by Robert Golob. It represents a victory for the liberal establishment in Europe against the conservative Janša.
Predictably enough, we have seen only joy from leftist and liberal politicians along with their supportive media networks, with talk of a defeat for nationalism and populism, and a victory for democratic values. Janša’s defeat is being compared with the election loss of Marine Le Pen, even though Janša’s party is part of the ruling European People’s Party (EPP).
Polish liberals from the “total opposition,” which has opposed the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party at home and abroad, rejoiced that a partner of that ruling Polish party has been beaten and that this signals the end of PiS rule too.
Since Janša is in the EPP, the party led by Donald Tusk, this is a curious take on the situation.
Slovenian conservatives defeated during a good night for European liberals
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What is even more absurd is the fact that liberal politicians in Poland have been backing Golob and his party, arguing that Janša is under Russian influence. This is a travesty of the truth, since it was Janša who led the delegation to Kyiv with the Polish and Czech prime ministers just a few weeks ago — a brave action that signaled full support for Ukraine and total opposition to Russia.
Janša may have been an ally of Hungary’s Viktor Orbán over disputes within the EU, but his stance on Russia and its invasion of Ukraine was totally different.
Moreover, it is far from clear what the policy of the new government will be towards Russia. Golob is being accused by pro-SDS media of having once been close to Gazprom. Marta Kos, Golob’s deputy, has gone on record during the election campaign that Slovenia should take care about its relations with Russia.
Janša is a politician who has come back before. He is a politician who has guts. For the Polish opposition to describe him as just a nationalist and populist shows that it is more interested in being part of the European mainstream at all costs than Poland’s national interest. So, what else is new?