The Slovenia Times

Pirc Musar, Slovenia's first woman president


Ljubljana, 13 November - Lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar was elected Slovenia's first ever woman president on Sunday. Although a newcomer to politics, she is familiar to most Slovenians as a former news anchor and information commissioner. She has announced she will be vocal about her positions and will stick to her commitment to liberal values and human rights.

The first candidate to announce her bid, the 54-year old ran as an independent reiterating that she had never been a member of any political party, but she did get endorsed by two former presidents, Milan Kučan and Danilo Türk. In the second round she got endorsed by the left bloc now in power.

Pirc Musar was born in 1968 and spent her childhood in Kamnik. She earned a law degree in Ljubljana in 1992 and a PhD at the Vienna Faculty of Law in 2005.

However, she started out as a journalist, spending six years as a reporter and anchor of the central news show of TV Slovenija and five more as a news anchor at POP TV. She later worked for a while as the head of corporate communications at financial holding Aktiva Group.

Pirc Musar got appointed information commissioner in 2004 to serve two high-profile terms until 2014, during which time the Office of the Information Commissioner became a staunch advocate of data privacy, often clashing with officialdom.

After that she established her own law firm and has worked on a number of high-profile cases, including as legal counsel for the family of Melania Trump.

In 2014 Pirc Musar ran for the post of director-general of the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija. The programme council appointed her to the post, but the procedure was annulled and repeated because two councillors were subsequently dismissed, and Marko Filli was appointed acting director-general.

Pirc Musar appealed with a court, which ruled the annulment of her appointment was illegal. RTV Slovenija later reached a settlement and paid Pirc Musar EUR 70,000 in damages.

In questions posed by the STA ahead of the election, Pirc Musar described public media as a cornerstone of democracy, but said that RTV Slovenija today "is close to not performing the job as it should". "Political usurpation has gone so far that action is needed," she said, supporting the government's new RTV Slovenija act.

Apart from serving shortly as the president of the Slovenian Red Cross, she has been active internationally too, including as chair of the Joint Supervisory Body for Europol, in the drafting of personal data protection laws in Montenegro, Serbia and Ukraine, and in the CoE's group for the drafting of the Convention on Access to Public Information.

Pirc Musar, who was a member of the EU delegation that negotiated with the US following Edward Snowden's revelations about the misuse of EU citizens' data, has put human rights and the rule of law at the centre of her potential stint as president. Her key priorities include health and pension reforms, climate neutrality and comprehensive security.

She has indicated she would be more vocal about her stances on topical issues than has been the case with incumbent Borut Pahor, arguing it was the duty of the president to speak out when "human rights are violated, when hate speech overrides respectful speech, when the constitution and the law are violated, when the welfare state is collapsing and democracy has its wings clipped".

In foreign policy she would aspire for all Western Balkan countries to join the EU as soon as possible. On border issue with Croatia, she intends to insist on the implementation of the border arbitration award. She plans to resume the country's existing foreign policy strategies and the Brdo-Brijuni process initiated by Pahor. However, she does not think meetings of Western Balkan leaders is enough.

In the run-up to and during the campaign, Pirc Musar, who describes herself as left liberal, has been busy defending herself in the face of a number of allegations, including of an association operated by her having issued a fake receipt to the Red Cross. She explained this was the fee paid to her as director.

No other candidate experienced as many attacks in media left and right than Pirc Musar, and at one point she caused consternation by saying it was wrong to pay to protect oneself from the media or to launch media attacks against others.

Her and her husband's assets have also been a subject of attacks - her husband Aleš Musar is a wealthy businessman who made his first fortune in the murky years of privatisation of state-owned firms - but she has insisted all has been earned fairly and legally. They have also been accused of tax optimising, and questions were raised why her husband has a company registered abroad.

A mother of one, Pirc Musar presently lives in Radomlje, north of Ljubljana. She is a dedicated bowling player and motorbike rider.

She has co-founded She Knows (Ona Ve), an association that brings together women experts to promote knowledge. Her political role model is former Irish President Mary Robinson.


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