After Slovenia’s liberal PM’s failed attempt to strengthen its coalition government’s position in a midterm election, veteran right-wing politician Janez Jansa has the chance to lead the country. The new head of government is a close friend and important ally of Viktor Orbán. The Hungarian prime minister can expect extensive political support from Ljubljana in the EU.
Slovenia’s liberal prime minister Marjan Sarec resigned in January due to the lack of support for his minority government. After this, last Tuesday, Slovenia’s Parliament backed the anti-immigrant, right-wing Janez Jansa to become the new PM.
Sarec had called for an early election in an attempt to strengthen his coalition government’s position, but his two former coalition partners of his center-left coalition instead agreed to form a new government with Janez Jansa. The 90-member parliament voted 52-31 to support the leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS).
The four parties expected to form the new ruling coalition with Janza’s party are the Christian democrat New Slovenia (NSi), social-liberal Modern Center Party (SMC), and center-left Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS) – with 48 MPs in the legislation.
Most analysts explain the decision of these small parliamentary parties’ coalition attempt with SDS to be motivated by the fear of the midterm elections, which could cost them their seats in the Assembly. The decision of the Modern Center Party to cooperate with Jansa is particularly controversial – former Foreign Minister and founder Miro Cerar even left his party to protest against this step. Jansa has to assemble his Cabinet by the 18th of March, and it will also need parliamentary approval before it can take office.
Janez Jansa is a veteran politician who won prominence as a dissident in the former Communist Yugoslav federation. He has won Slovenia’s elections three times in the past but in the 2018 parliamentary election, although his party won the most votes, other parliamentary groups refused to form a coalition with him because of his right-wing policies and his party’s stance on migration.
Jansa, Orbán’s good friend
Jansa has also been a close ally of Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who publicly supported him during the election campaign in 2018.
Moreover, investigative journalists from Hungary and Slovenia recently revealed how some Hungarian media entrepreneurs close to Orbán was channeling millions of dollars into Slovenia to support and further build the Jansa-related media.
Slovenia’s leader even announced a program that is the same in almost every way to Orbán’s policy – from a stricter asylum policy and stronger border security, to an “ethno-national” family policy, an opinion piece on Der Spiegel notes.
His critics in Slovenia fear Jansa will “import Orbanism,” pushing the country toward populism, dismantling the rule of law and abolishing independent media.
But SDS thinks Orbán is an example to follow. When Orbán’s Fidesz party got suspended from the EPP and many pressed for the party’s expulsion, SDS showed clear support of the Hungarian governing party. Branko Grims, a member of the SDS, even said that his party would have to leave the EPP and form a separate alliance with Viktor Orbán in case the Hungarian leader’s party gets ejected from the largest political group in the EP.
For Viktor Orbán, creating right-wing allies in the EU is a top priority given his strong opposition in Western Europe. With a possible recurrence of mass migration and the upcoming Brussels budget negotiations, Janza could be a great ally for Hungary’s PM.
Also, the Hungarian government has been pushing for the European integration of the Western Balkans, which is another matter in which Slovenia could be an important partner.
Featured photo by Balázs Szecsődi/MTI