Coalition joins criticism of Janša over Biden tweets

Ljubljana – Prime Minister Janez Janša has drawn criticism over his tweeting in response to the outcome of the US presidential election even from the ranks of his own coalition partners, while the Foreign Ministry and the country’s president would not provide a comment.

“The prime minister’s tweets are not benefiting Slovenia at the moment,” Defence Minister Matej Tonin said for public broadcaster TV Slovenija last night, adding: “Time will show whether they harm us.”

Tonin, the leader of the Christian democratic coalition party New Slovenia (NSi), said he understood the prime minister might be disappointed about the outcome of the US election, but in democracy results should be accepted as they were, and the winner should be congratulated.

Unlike Janša, Tonin, one of the deputy prime ministers, has congratulated Joe Biden on his election victory, as has Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor and National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič, among others.

Commenting on Janša’s tweets in which he disparaged Biden and favoured Donald Trump as the winner, Zorčič told TV Slovenija: “The communication on Twitter that we’ve seen – that is rooting for one side, humiliating the other side, blocking advisors – isn’t decent or diplomatic and doesn’t contribute to the enhancing of relations with the US or any other country.”

Janja Sluga, the deputy group leader for the Modern Centre Party (SMC), said Janša’s tweets “do not bring any benefits to our country”, adding that declaring a winner prematurely was “something one does not do”.

And Franc Jurša, the deputy group leader for the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS), said attributing victory to Trump before the winner was declared was “a slip” that merits a discussion by the heads of coalition parties.

In endorsing Trump ahead of the election, Janša tweeted that Biden would be “one of the weakest presidents in history” if elected, which earned him a rebuke from Michael Carpenter, Biden’s foreign policy advisor. On the morning after the US election day, Janša also tweeted it was “pretty clear that American people have elected Donald Trump”.

While he has not congratulated Biden, Janša has since tweeted: “The US is our strategic partner. All the @govSlovenia I have led have built close, friendly relations with the US. No matter which party the US president was from. Nothing will change in the future”.

Zorčič, a member of the SMC, said the SMC understood foreign policy as an activity and an effort to further the interests of the state rather than the promotion of party interests. “I believe we’ll need to have a word about that in the coalition.”

The Foreign Ministry and the president’s office have so far declined to comment on Janša’s tweets.

Former President Danilo Türk also spoke up, telling RTV Slovenija that the tweets were “very inappropriate” and “damaging for Slovenia”. He opined that Janša should apologise to Biden as well as the Slovenian public.