Slovenia - November 2022
Musar becomes first female President after run-off
On 13 November Nataša Pirc Musar became Slovenia’s first female head of state. Musar is an independent candidate, and a former journalist and lawyer who famously represented former United States First Lady Melania Trump in a libel case. Although the role of president is largely ceremonial, Musar’s victory gives her gatekeeping authority. She will appoint members of the anti-corruption commission and nominate the Prime Minister and members of the Constitutional Court (who are then elected by Parliament). Voter turnout was 51 per cent, a considerable improvement compared to the 42 per cent turnout in the 2012 presidential election. Independent candidates also performed well in local elections held on 20 November. The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) was the biggest winner of the established parties in local councils and mayoral positions.
Referendum to depoliticize public media
In a recent referendum, Slovenians endorsed a proposed bill to safeguard the independence of Radio Television of Slovenia (RTV), the country’s largest media outlet. The bill, which was approved by Parliament in July, will update RTV’s governance structures, including through the appointment of the central management body in consultation with civil society representatives, and will remove the power of the National Assembly to appoint members. Prominent regional media freedom associations have come out in support of the proposed reforms, noting their potential to strengthen “the free exercise of RTV’s journalistic mission”. The referendum, which passed with 62 per cent of the vote, had been tabled by the opposition Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). The previous government under SDS’s Janez Janša had appointed new leadership at RTV and pressured or redeployed journalists.