The Rise of Ethno-nationalist Populism in Slovenia

    • EUPE_BRUGES_2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Iztok Šori, Peace Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
      • Mojca Pajnik, Peace Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia


    The political shifts in the post 1989 period in Central and Eastern Europe and the military conflicts in the Balkans intensified ethnic nationalism in these societies, but simultaneously also gave rise to populism of the extreme right and consequently to hatred of minorities and a shift towards reifying national values that the communist regime allegedly suppressed. Slovenia as one of the former Yugoslav republics was no exception: the rise of the extreme right intensified ethno-nationalism coupled with authoritarian tendencies of governing “the people” by reproducing groups of the excluded. Populist right of post-socialist Slovenia found the new enemies in various groups of “others” who were imagined as endangering the future of the nation and its people, such as migrants, LGBTQ+, “the erased”, Roma etc. This paper suggests that the process of establishing independent statehood were largely based on right wing populist parties’ attempts to differentiate the Slovenian national identity from anything that is seen or considered as Balkan, which became a metaphor for backward and primitive. Exclusionary populism intensified over the last two decades, which will be shown in the paper by employing the case study analysis of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDP). Approaching populism at the crossroads of ideology and political style, we will analyse communication strategies and discourses of SDP to unravel framing of social problems employed by the party and its leader. A particular attention will also be given to reflect the last parliamentary elections (from June 2018) that at the example of SDP election campaign showed “spill-overs” when SDP anti-migration election strategies were copied from those employed by the Hungarian prime minister Victor Orbán and his governing Fidesz.