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Slovenia saw steepest democratic decline in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in 2021, report says – POLITICO


Democratic standards in Slovenia have fallen more in 2021 than in any other country in Eastern Europe and Central Asia, according to a new report by research institute Freedom House.

The ‘Nations in Transit’ report, which rates the democratic standards of 29 countries out of 7 based on factors such as their electoral process, media independence and corruption, found that Slovenia fell from 5.86 to 5.71 last year.

“No country’s scores have fallen more than Slovenia’s,” the report reads, blaming the decline of Prime Minister Janez Janša’s government after it “sidelined parliament and exerted pressure considerable political and financial impact on civil society organisations, public media services, the judiciary, and the European Public Prosecutor’s Office.

Janša, who is up for re-election on Sunday in an increasingly tight race, has been accused of waging war on independent media in Slovenia after withholding funding from the country’s public broadcaster for most of 2021 for criticizing its leadership, pushing him to the brink of bankruptcy. (Faced with political pressure, he has since restored much of the funding.) He also earned the nickname “Marshall Tweeto,” an allusion to former Yugoslavia leader Josip Broz Tito, after he singled out and berated critical journalists on social networks.

“Slovenia’s falling scores were in part the result of not adhering to liberal democratic standards and practices that we expect from a high level,” said Mike Smeltzer, research analyst at Freedom House and co-author of the report. , “but also the actions of Prime Minister Janez Janša… which, as we say, betrayed “an illiberal intolerance of any criticism”.

However, the central European nation is “still one of the best performers” of the countries reviewed, he said, and remains a “consolidated democracy” – adhering to the “best policies and practices of liberal democracies”. – alongside Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Poland, Romania and Bulgaria performed less well, showing signs of “weaknesses in their defense of political rights and civil liberties”.

Democracy has been in decline for 18 consecutive years in the 29 countries examined, according to the report, and 2021 was also the first year that hybrid regimes – which combine authoritarian rule with uncompetitive elections, including Hungary – have become the most common type of plan in these countries. Regions.

Russia’s war in Ukraine may not bode well for European democracy in the long run either.

“After 18 years of democratic decline…and as the Kremlin continues its brutal war of aggression, it’s hard to conjure up a sense of hope,” Smeltzer said.

“Even if Putin fails in his efforts to destroy Ukraine, there is a good chance that this war will accelerate the anti-democratic transformation we have documented, as economic challenges and the influx of refugees will test the capacities of governments and societies that have already spent the past two years responding to a global pandemic.

Slovenia’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a POLITICO request for comment.




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