A Matter of Self-Esteem
Snap elections in a prosperous European country which has sunk into an economic crisis! In a blitz campaign, a dozen parties put forward their ‘way out’ and ‘back on track’ strategies...
Reforms, reforms, and more reforms. Most voters thought they had already mastered the subject by turning down the reform package proposed by the late government of Borut Pahor. Yet now they are being offered a diverse set of proposals on how to restart the economy, involving complicated issues of privatisation, creating jobs, raising competitiveness, simplifying administrative procedures, etc. In other words, deep issues which only few people understand in terms of inner workings, consequences and deeper meaning. From the perspective of an average citizen, all parties have put pretty similar plans on the table so the judgement has gone down to the personalities behind them.
The elections have turned into a reality show, a dating contest, where Slovenia chooses her alpha male. In the same manner, the media front pages have also dropped the formal and boring topics and focused on the fun or controversial stuff. As a result, the biggest campaign attraction has suddenly become real estate. It all began with the revelation that candidate Zoran Jaković owns more property than he has declared to the media. The reason for the outrage was not so much in the fishy elements of Janković’s story, but in the fact that he owns more than just a house in Ljubljana and a meadow in the countryside. Being one of Slovenia’s most successful and most highly paid manager doesn’t make him an exception to the rule that owning more than an average citizen is the mortal political sin. It became clear that the notorious Slovenian envy has broken loose and the campaign has turned into a competition in humbleness. In terms of popularity, less became more. Meanwhile the media went sniffing out how many of the assets were actually owned by politicians’ grandmothers.
In the same manner, one of the campaign highlights became the rise and fall of Gregor Virant’s list. Virant entered the scene as an optional prime minister, but now the most recent polls place him only a few percents above the parliamentary threshold. It might be true that his enthusiastic liberal formula lacked a wider context, but it is undeniable that the steepest fall came as soon as the media figured out that he was earning big bucks as a contract lecturer, while receiving compensations he was entitled to for a year after his ministerial position ceased. Legal, yes, but far from cool. Virant then decided to return some money into the state budget, but what he was aiming to be a noble gesture turned violently against him. By doing so, he has actually admitted to having done things wrong, something a Slovenian politician should avoid at any cost.
The probable election winner Janez Janša knows that well. He knows that if you get into a debate with someone who accuses you of wrongdoing, it may only create more unpleasant questions. In order to get past them, you should always blame it on your natural enemies, whose sole business is to set you up anything, form corruption to forgeries.
And while others have kept a nervous eye on the opinion polls, Janša has appeared supremely unbothered by them. He aims to teach us that surveys – especially those with a bad forecast for his party – are actually intended to create rather than measure public opinion. A similar rule is applied to the media in general. There are only two kinds of press: those who publish lies in order to damage him, and a few objective ones. And if you think the economic crisis in Slovenia had something to do with the global one, you could not be more wrong. In 2009, a booming Slovenian economy flopped, but the key is that it was also the year after Janša has lost the elections… Maybe even the whole global economic crisis happened because the Slovenian nation betrayed him and went into bed with Borut Pahor, and now, ladies and gentlemen the time has come to repent!
A high level of self esteem - that’s something the winners are made of.
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