Robert Golob elected new head of renamed green party

Engineer try to save environment by pulling a banner of new green city

Ljubljana – Robert Golob, the former chairman of energy trader Gen-I who is generally seen as the most serious rival of Prime Minister Janez Janša in the upcoming general election, has become the leader of a non-parliamentary green party on Wednesday. The party, formerly known as Z.Dej, has been renamed Movement Freedom.

Around 170 delegates of the party, which was formed in 2021 and led so far by former Environment Minister Jure Leben, took part in today’s congress that saw Golob, the only candidate vying for the post of party head, taking over from Leben.

Leben said he had stepped down that to have more time for his family, adding he was proud that “Janša’s main challenger” had recognised the potential of the party.

The delegates also confirmed the party’s new name as well as its platform, with Golob highlighting climate policy as the key point, followed by healthcare and measures against the health crisis, and intergenerational challenges.

Former judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič has been confirmed as the party’s deputy head, whereas secretary general is former Nova Gorica Mayor Matej Arčon.

So far, the congress has not endorsed the party council’s head, but according to Golob, doctor Mirta Koželj will be picked to fill the post.

Golob said in a statement on the sidelines of the congress that the term “movement” was deliberately used in the party’s name “because we want to show that we’re not an ordinary party, that we’re different”.

As of today, he added, they have “set up a platform” and invite anyone who would like to join them to participate. New members are joining on a daily basis, he said, noting the party would continue to grow.

This might have been a response to speculations in the media in recent days that he has been having trouble to recruit people to join him on his political journey, speculations that he has already dismissed.

In March, the party will release a list of candidates to vie for MP posts that will be then confirmed at another congress. Golob’s team has already been joined by two unaffiliated MPs, Janja Sluga and Jurij Lep.

The party’s new secretary general, Arčon, who will now have the task to come up with the list, believes that under Golob’s leadership the party will achieve an excellent result in the election.

Adding to the list of the party’s key policies already presented by Golob, Klakočar Zupančič mentioned efforts to advocate respect, freedom and democracy, re-establish the rule of law and promote “inclusive society with clear boundaries on what is and is not allowed”.

Klakočar Zupančič made headlines last year when her statements that were critical of Janša and posted in a closed Facebook group were leaked and shared by Vinko Gorenak, a state secretary in the prime minister’s office.

She lost her post as the head of the commonhold department at the Ljubljana Local Court due to the statements, and sued Gorenak, accusing him of the offence of unauthorised publication of private content. He then deleted the post in question and the pair reached a settlement.

Golob also announced today that the party would attend a meeting with centre-left opposition parties. Movement Freedom considers them a “natural ally”, he said, adding it was too early to say whether his party would join their KUL coalition.

“If we want to reach freedom, which is our main goal, we have to work with all those who share the same values – respect, cooperation, solidarity,” he said.

He was also asked to comment on Janša’s statement today that his decision to enter politics was “an exam resit by Zoran Janković”, the Ljubljana mayor who founded Positive Slovenia in 2011, a party in which Golob used to be a vice president.

The latter refrained from commenting because he believes that people have had enough of bickering between politicians. “We aren’t entering politics to argue with others about what they think of us. We believe in giving Slovenians a better future,” he said.