According to Luka Mesec, coordinator of the Slovenian party Levica (the Left) and Slovenian MP, the coronavirus pandemic exposed many of the capitalist system’s shortcomings, creating opportunities for left-wing politics. The pandemic has clearly shown that it is the workers, and not the managers, who ensure the functioning of our economies, emphasizes Mesec.
Walter Baier, coordinator of the Transform!europe network and ex- National Chairman of the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) and Dagmar Švendová, facilitator in Transform!europe, interviewed Mesec for the eighth conversation in the”Meetings with the Left” series.
Mesec addresses a number of issues, including the right-wing politics of the new Slovenian government, the far-right paramilitary group Styrian Guard, the need to de-globalize the economy, and problems with EU environmental policy and its left-wing alternative.
Janez Janša’s government has lost its legitimacy, Mesec pointed out.
The opening question is the one about the new Slovenian government led by Janez Janša, a representative of the Slovenian right. Mesec expressed his fear that the current government might steer the country towards a political course already followed by the government of Viktor Orbán in Hungary. Janša has enjoyed Orban’s sympathies and support for many years.
It’s encouraging to know that there is a strong opposition to Janez Janša’s politics in Slovenia. During the past months, some of the anti-government cycling protests attracted more than 10 000 people, which is a serious number for Slovenia’s population of two million people, explains Mesec. The bicycles served as a creative solution for maintaining the prescribed physical distance during the epidemic.
Much like Orban – and supported by Orban financially – Janša maintains a network of media that produce content in accordance with the interests of the current Prime Minister of Slovenia and his party. In addition, Following in the footsteps of Donald Trump, Janša is a vehement “tweeter”, which, as Mesec explains, creates a “smoke curtain” for the media, behind which truly relevant politicians’ activities and the abuse of power are hidden.
The coordinator of Levica also referred to the phenomenon of the Styrian Guard, a paramilitary group formed by the Slovenian ultra-rightist Andrej Šišek, which patrols the border between Slovenia and Croatia. Janša’s government tolerates this paramilitary phenomenon, although activities of the Styrian Guard go against Slovenian laws.
Baier stated that popularity of public health policy and opposition to austerity policies is growing in various European countries because of the pandemic. Luka Mesec confirmed that the situation is similar in Slovenia and expressed his belief that the pandemic created opportunities for strengthening the left.
The globalized economy had also shown its shortcomings in circumstances of a pandemic, explained Mesec. There isn’t a single factory in Slovenia that can make such a simple product as a medical mask, according to Mesec, who used this example to illustrate the mentioned weaknesses:
I believe that the time has come to discuss not only the welfare state, but also a de-globalization of the economy, that is, the need to encourage local production.
Mesec goes on to talk about EU policies, and criticizes Franco-German responses to the challenges posed by climate change. Instead of the solutions these countries use, the EU should focus on large investments in pan-European green public transport, concludes the coordinator of the “Levica” party.
You can read the interview Mašina did with Luka Mesec in 2015 here.
“Meeting the Left” is a series of conversations with the leading figures of European left parties organized by Transform!europe, a network of European leftist organizations. You can watch the interviews live via Zoom app, and you can stay informed on the next conversations via Transform’s Facebook page. Recordings of all conversations will be available later on Mašina’s web page.
Translation from Serbian: Iskra Krstić
This article was originally published in Serbian on Jun 28, 2020.