Ljubljana – Presidential candidates shared their views on policies affecting the elderly on Thursday in what was the first presidential debate featuring all eight. The key challenges identified by most of them were the implementation of the long-term care law, pension and healthcare reform, and efforts to strengthen ties between younger and older generations.
There are eight candidates who submitted valid bids for the 23 October election, and all of them took part in the debate that was held under the 21st Festival of the Third Age, the biggest such festival dedicated to the elderly in Europe.
The candidates are lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar, Anže Logar, an MP for the opposition Democrats (SDS), Kočevje Mayor Vladimir Prebilič, SocDems MEP Milan Brglez, who also enjoys the support of the ruling Freedom Movement, Miha Kordiš, an MP for the coalition Left, Janez Cigler Kralj, an MP for the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), gynaecologist Sabina Senčar and musician Gregor Bezenšek.
Brglez, an advocate of higher pensions, said that the problems “caused by austerity during the last financial crisis” would have to be addressed.
Cigler Kralj, former minister of labour, family, social affairs and equal opportunities, believes that the contribution of the elderly is valued in society, but that this is not always reflected in legislation and individual measures.
On the other hand, Kordiš thinks that seniors’s efforts in the past are not valued enough. Logar agrees, saying that a decades-long wait for the long-term care act was proof of that.
Pirc Musar finds it most problematic that projects start from zero every time a new government is sworn in, and Prebilič said that actual implementation of projects was more important than a long-term strategy.
Senčar thinks older people have never before feel so lonely and left out, and Bezenšek sees the elderly as a pillar of wisdom in society and believes young people should bear this in mind.
The candidates also discussed the law on long-term care that was adopted in December 2021 under the previous government, but whose implementation has been postponed by a year under the coalition-sponsored changes to the law.
They agreed that the national budget should be the primary source of funding for long-term care. With the exception of Kordiš and Bezenšek, they are also in favour of considering the introduction of social insurance at a later stage.
While Cigler Kralj and Logar are not supporters of the abolition of the existing top-up health insurance, the remaining candidates are in favour of this.
Most are also in favour of the introduction of an ombudsman for the elderly, but within the already existing institution of the human rights ombudsman. If elected president, they would appoint an adviser on elderly care.
However, the candidates differ in their views on what the president’s greatest strength is. Bezenšek, Cigler Kralj and Senčar believe that the president should be the president of all citizens.
Brglez thinks that the president should unite people through consensus-building, and not by balancing out the left and the right. Kordiš believes that the president should use their voice for the benefit of those who are voiceless in society.
According to Logar, the president has the power to determine which areas are crucial for Slovenia’s development and to push politicians to adopt appropriate legislative solutions.
Similarly, Pirc Musar believes that the president has a duty to ensure that society moves forward and fights stagnation. At the same time, the president is the supreme defender of constitutional rights, she said.
As president, Prebilič would want to act as a moral compass for the government when it is not doing a good job, and its supporter when it is.