The Boogeyman

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In April, Slovenian voters tapped Robert Golob, leader of the Freedom Movement party, to replace as prime minister right-wing populist Janez Jansa, a longtime figure in Slovenian politics and an ally of Hungary’s illiberal nationalist Prime Minister, Viktor Orban.

But Jansa remains a boogeyman.

And as the country prepares for a presidential election on Oct. 23, new battle lines are being drawn, the Associated Press reported. While the Slovenian presidency is largely ceremonial, the office has significant authority as the head of state and is a bellwether of popular sentiments in the country.

As Euractiv explained, Anze Logar, who served as foreign minister under Jansa but is running as an independent, is now leading in the polls. His main challenger is Pirc Musar, an independent and former news anchor who has represented ex-First Lady Melania Trump (a Slovenian immigrant to the US) in legal disputes in her home country, including libelous allegations that she was an escort, as the Daily Beast reported.

Lastly, Milan Brglez, a European Union parliamentarian who enjoys the support of the Social Democrats and the Freedom Movement, entered the race late but has garnered a healthy share of supporters.

The initial Freedom Movement candidate, Marta Kos, dropped out of the race citing personal reasons, the Slovenian Times wrote. Polls said she had little chance of winning. Slovenian news channel Nova 24 TV claimed that the real reason she quit, however, is because she had been promised the prestigious position of ambassador to the US.

Writing in the Balkan Insight, Alem Maksuti, a political scientist based in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, argued that Logar’s success highlights how Golob and his coalition partners in government have failed to adequately marshal a response to Jansa’s continuing threat to the country.

This threat involves the insistence that communists are still ruling Slovenia through a “parallel mechanism,” the outlet wrote.

For example, Jansa regularly blames “deep state” conspiracies for his loss in the spring. He and his allies “write books and produce films and establish newspapers, TVs and web portals to support this theory,” Maksuti wrote, while the Freedom Movement and others can’t organize and field the proper support for a single candidate for president.

The absence of a liberal champion or even a never-Jansa conservative who might defeat Logar and prevent a runoff vote later in mid-November is all the more peculiar given how Slovenia’s economy is doing relatively well under Golob despite an energy crisis precipitated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, added the Economist.

Logar’s rivals have no one else but themselves to blame if he wins.

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