The role of media in Slovenian local elections 2018 natisni

The mainstream media presentations of the candidates and programmes for the local elections 2018 was partly biased in favor of the left-wing candidates. Unfortunately, the mainstream media continues the trend from the National Assembly elections when they clearly and openly took a stand of the transitional left. Their political instrumentalisation was evident in the electoral campaigns especially in the municipalities of Ljubljana and Maribor.

In Maribor, the left transition centers of power gave up on the current mayor Andrej Fištravec He was replaced by the businessman Saša Arsenovič who was launched and frequently present in the media during the national elections. Maribor local media, especially daily Večer, were very much in favor of the candidate of the left. On the other hand, the media didn’t present the background of the Mr. Arsenović and present the complete picture of his ups and downs in his business ventures.

In the case of the candidate, Franz Kangler, the mainstream media, including public television RTV Slovenija, did not report in an unbiased manner.  Mr. Kangler had to resign as the mayor due to as many as 20 court charges several years ago and practically all of them dismissed. There was a complete coverage on the charges, but considerably rarely and much shorter news or even none on the acquittal.

The mainstream media assisted to the transition left parties and their prime candidate Zoran Janković by hiding /diminishing certain facts, proceedings and even illegal activities as much as possible. Strangely enough, it has been almost never reported that the mayor was and is in the numerous criminal and pre-trial procedures.  RTV Slovenija’s lack of presenting the stories about problematic activities of the leftist mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković was evident. Often the journalists from the national media avoided to ask questions about his involvement in corruption, family bankruptcy, on the creditors suffering damage because of Mr. Janković's family debts, questions on forcing one particular woman to indulge into intimacy and sex in exchange for a job in a Pharmacy, family tragedies ending even with the suicides because of the failed project of the Stadium in Stožice, which caused bankruptcy to the number of  small and medium size companies. In short, the national TV in the past months didn’t enable their viewers to obtain the complete information on the problematic activities of  Mr. Janković.

On the other hand, commercial television Pop TV covered many stories about the court procedures against Janković.  Pop TV as the most popular television in Slovenia, in this case, took on a role of the public television by exposing Mr. Janković and his abuse of the power.

Interestingly, some influential women magazines were also in favor current Mayor of Ljubljana. This is in a sharp contrast with their otherwise feminist and women’s rights protectors views.

Maybe the biggest problem considering media coverage of the local elections are newspapers owned by the municipalities. These newspapers are free of charge, they are paid by municipalities and are distributed to people at home. Most of them promote current mayors and by doing that they put other candidates at disadvantage. They are also unfair competition towards other local and national media which must earn their money on the market.

To conclude, the local elections campaign 2018 yet again confirmed that biased and politicised media space is one of the obstacles for development of democracy in Slovenia.


The Association of Journalists and Commentators (21. 11. 2018)