Left addressing “crisis of democracy” with election platform

Maribor – The Left held a congress in Maribor on Saturday to discuss the platform and present the list of candidates for the 24 April general election. The platform addresses the “crisis of capitalism, crisis of climate and crisis of democracy”, and presents measures in social affairs, climate, culture, media and foreign policy.

The congress featuring some 300 members of the opposition party presented the platform that advocates economy tailored to humans, adoption of a national development strategy and measures strengthening state control of the banking sector.

The Left would also change the strategy for managing the country’s capital investments and would increase funding of science, research and education, to which it would earmark 2% of Slovenia’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The party also announced “fight for decent work” and promised to reduce working hours, immediate raise of the minimum wage to at least EUR 815, which would be gradually increased to EUR 1,000.

The Left would eliminate precarious work and advocates abolition of private student work agencies, and transfer of their business to the Employment Service. Concessions obtained by student work agencies would be redirected to a scholarship fund.

When it comes to economic democracy, which the party advocates, the Left proposes worker participation in management and adoption of a law on worker participation in ownership, as well as the creation of a public fund for economic democracy.

The platform also calls for welfare state that would be “against poverty and capitalist exploitation”, and for restoration of the importance of social work, family policy based on social criteria and pensions that would ensure a safe old age.

The Left wants equal opportunities for all and infrastructure of solidarity, as it promises more budget funds for public health, reduction of waiting times in health care, and clear separation of work of doctors in the public and private sectors.

The priorities of the platform include solve the housing issue by building 30,000 public rental apartments by 2030, introducing a progressive real estate tax and regulating the rental market.

In education, the party advocates separation of public and private institutions, free kindergarten, abolition of all forms of tuition fees in higher education, higher scholarships and raise in funds for adult education.

As for culture, the Left promises a post-Covid revival, transparent governance, accessibility and incentives. The party would limit the influence of politics on the media and depoliticise and develop the national broadcaster RTV Slovenija.

The parts also called for sovereign and well-thought-out foreign policy, peaceful coexistence of nations and nuclear disarmament, demilitarisation and withdrawal from NATO.

Addressing the congress, Left coordinator Luka Mesec said the party was betting on the scenario under which Slovenia’s next government featured the Left.

He noted that the party had been trying in the last eight years since it had entered parliament to “at least be a patch on the wounds that the times give us”.

He noted that the Left has been on the side of workers, students, pensioners and the unemployed, pointing to the increase in the minimum wage, pensions and welfare benefits, and the closure of shops on Sundays.

Among the other achievements of the expiring term, Mesec also noted the advocacy of the “victims of austerity measures, fight against incitement of hatred against minorities and the vulnerable, and the commitment to green policies.”

He believes that the party has remained consistent in these eight years, and is proud that the Left has not had any serious scandals or cases of corruption.

“They say that politics is dirty. But they will have a hard time showing where the Left has gotten dirty,” Mesec said, adding that the party would continue on the same track.

He said that the 24 April election was about how many votes the centre bloc and the Left will get as opposed to PM Janez Janša and “his satellites”, and it would also be important how many votes the Left would get within this bloc.

“Our bet is clear; we are going to the election to defeat the right and we are going to the election to get a government with the Left,” he said.

In addition to Mesec, all other current MPs of the Left will contest the election, with the exception of Violeta Tomić, who left the party in January. Mesec said the party would try to improve on its result from the 2018 election (nine MPs) by 30%.

The candidates feature several prominent names, including anthropologist Svetlana Slapšak, psychologist and former MP Metka Mencin Čeplak, former head of the association of head teachers Milan Rejc and gender equality activist Tatjana Greif.

The congress was also addressed by world-renowned philosopher Slavoj Žižek, who said that the Left was the only party in Slovenia that is “moderate, open, clear, while at the same time being aware of the seriousness of the current crisis.”

“The Left has no secret plans, everything is public, it sticks to democratic rules, and this is why it withdrew support for the previous government, when it could not coordinate this support with its programme,” he added.