Slovenia

Far-right leader Janez Janša loses election, sparking new hope for civic space

The parliamentary elections held in Slovenia on 24th April 2022 marked a change of political regime: newcomer Robert Golob and his Freedom Movement (launched in January 2022) won with nearly 35% of the votes., resulting in the ousting of the current far-right Prime Minister Janez Janša and his SDS party. Prior to the elections, concerning developments took place. The NGO 8 March Institute (Inštitut 8. marec) which ran a "Let’s go vote" campaign (Gremo volit) to encourage voter turnout and repared a draft law to overturn the decisions of the incumbent government was accused “leading an undeclared electoral campaign” and received a notice from the Inspectorate of Internal Affairs. Separately, prominent protester Jaša Jenull received a third claim amounting to approximately 34,340 EUR for a June 2020 protest. Concerning developments also unfolded at RTVSLO, which has been subjected to ongoing political interference. Read more

Far-right leader Janez Janša loses election, sparking new hope for civic space

Independence of RTV Slovenija under threat; culture and environmental CSOs face funding cuts

Attempts to curtail the work of civil society continue, with harsh funding cuts in the state budget for cultural and environmental CSOs. Additionally, the second draft of the De-Bureaucratisation law further threatens funding for cultural CSOs. A decision is expected in the next few months for NGOs, based in Metelkova who face eviction. The court procedure has been introduced separately for each organisation with slightly different dynamics, resulting in significant legal costs to NGOs. Meanwhile, the Slovenian Press Agency has signed a financial deal with UKOM on public service in 2021 thus securing funds, but journalists remain concerned over the future and independence of the agency. In a concerning development, several editors at RTV Slovenia resigned in protest against its production plan for 2022 which will erode editorial autonomy.

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Independence of RTV Slovenija under threat; culture and environmental CSOs face funding cuts

Amendment to Public Law and Order act threatens fundamental rights, last paycheck for STA staff

On 1st September 2021 the Slovenian government proposed an amendment to the Act on Public Law and Order introducing fines for indecent behaviour towards officials. The amendments raise concerns for freedom of speech in the country, amid ongoing anti-government protests which have been staged for over 70 weeks. Meanwhile, public broadcasting agency STA has gone without funding for more than 235 days following the government’s decision to block their funding at the beginning of 2021. This is part of Prime Minister Janez Janša’s ongoing systematic attack against media and journalists in the country, with the STA’s survival relying on public crowdfunding. While the STA continues to operate, it reported that September 2021 will be the last month in which they will be able to pay staff salaries. In a continued crackdown on media freedom in Slovenia, Director of Programmes at RTV Slovenija, Natalija Gorščak, was dismissed on 20th August 2021 by newly-appointed Director General Andrej Grah Whatmough. Read more

Amendment to Public Law and Order act threatens fundamental rights, last paycheck for STA staff

More than 200 days without funding for Slovenian Press Agency; attempts to block funds for NGOs

Slovenia took over the EU Council rotating presidency on 1st July 2021. The start of the Presidency also coincided with Slovenia being placed on the CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist, marking a rapid decline in civic space. The latest concerns include attempts to curtail access to funding for NGOs and the ongoing blockage of funds to Slovenia’s public press agency, STA, threatening its survival. Read more  |  Read in Slovenian

More than 200 days without funding for Slovenian Press Agency; attempts to block funds for NGOs

On our watchlist: A rapid decline in civic freedoms as government restricts fundamental rights

Janša's right-wing government continues its crackdown on media freedom and targeting of CSOs. Those that speak out about violations of freedoms, rights and a lack of social dialogue are targeted in retaliation. The crumbling democracy and current state of civic space in the country sets a dangerous precedent for the European continent, as Slovenia prepares to assume the presidency of the EU in July. Due to the rapid decline in civic space, Slovenia is now on the CIVICUS Monitor Watchlist.
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On our watchlist: A rapid decline in civic freedoms as government restricts fundamental rights

Janša’s government continues its attack on media freedom; spreads misinformation about CSOs

Prime Minister Janez Janša's government has continued its attacks on CSOs and the media. In February 2021, the Slovene Democratic Party sent out a questionnaire to all households with a series of misleading and suggestive questions about the media and non-governmental organisations. In addition, CSOs reported that PM Janša once again used incorrect data regarding NGO financing during a vote of no confidence in parliament. Whilst the NGOs who are facing eviction from Metelkova have managed to successfully litigate to preserve their rights via a complaint to the Constitutional Court, the government continues to undermine CSOs through inserting similar restrictions in other bills, which are now up for parliamentary consideration. Numerous developments took place in relation to media freedom: journalists continue to face online attacks from the Prime Minister, there have been attempts to undermine the national press agency and attempts to censor media from reporting on COVID-19.
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Janša’s government continues its attack on media freedom; spreads misinformation about CSOs

Government continues its attack on CSOs

Following the downgrade of Slovenia by the CIVICUS Monitor, attempts by public authorities to undermine civic space in the country continue. After various restrictive measures and hostile rhetoric targeting NGOs since the new government took power in Slovenia in March 2020, in December 2020 the Janez Janša government unsuccessfully attempted to introduce an amendment abolishing the state’s fund for non-governmental organisations through its 7th anti-corona stimulus package. In January 2021, the Ministry of Environment proposed new changes to the Environmental Protection and Spatial Planning Acts which would exclude environmental NGOs from key relevant procedures. The law is currently under consultation. Anti-government protests have continued to take place since April 2020. The protest wave continues despite being challenged by heavy fines by the police. Read more

Government continues its attack on CSOs

Janša's government threatens to evict 18 CSOs and continues to attack the media

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Slovenia are increasingly becoming the target of the Slovenian government's restrictive measures and hostile rhetoric.The latest developments take place amid the second wave of the COVID-19pandemic, which has been used as a pre-text to clamp down on NGOs. 18 NGOs were recently requested by the government (Ministry of Culture) to vacate their premises in the building at No. 6 Metelkova Street in Ljubljana, in which they have been operating since the mid-1990s. In addition media have contined to faced attacks from Prime Minister Janez Janša. Read more

Janša's government threatens to evict 18 CSOs and continues to attack the media

Peaceful assembly and media freedom strained under Janša's government

Protests, especially Friday anti-government protests, have been a regular feature of public life in Slovenia since Janša took office. Some citizens initiated cyclists’ protests to complain about the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis. Protests have been staged every Friday thus far, with more than thirty held since March 2020, and have since spread across Slovenia. However, these protests have been subject to intense police scrutiny. Concerns were raised over the police handling of these protests in Ljubljana, will allegations of excessive use of police powers. A package of three media laws has also come under the spotlight, with journalists staging a protest calling for these laws to be scrapped. These laws threaten to completely change the Slovenian media landscape. Journalists also faced threats during the reporting period. Read more

Peaceful assembly and media freedom strained under Janša's government

Government uses the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to curtail civic freedoms

On 13th March 2020, a new right-wing coalition government was constituted, with Janez Janša being appointed as the new PM. Janša, who is the leader of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) is known for being one of the biggest allies of Hungary's Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán. In its first week the government took many concerning decisions regarding COVID-19. For instance, the Intervention Measures Act was introduced to provide support measures for different spheres in Slovenia. However there were unsuccessful attempts to pass articles which broaden police powers and surveillance. Freedom of expression also came under attack during the pandemic. For example, under the pretence of public health safety, the government’s press conferences were closed to the press. A compromise was later reached by journalist unions and the government. Critical journalists have also been harassed on social media and through SDS Party channels. Read more

Government uses the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to curtail civic freedoms