“Slovenia first!” It is with this slogan, borrowed from Donald Trump, that Janez Jansa, who served as Prime Minister from 2004 to 2008 and again from 2012 to 2013, intends to return to business.
Jansa’s Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) is leading in the polls ahead of Sunday’s legislative elections. “There is no Slovenia without Slovenes,” insists Jansa, who focused his campaign on the defense of a Slovene identity threatened by the ongoing migrant crisis.
Since his origins as a pro-democracy activist in Communist Yugoslavia during the 1980s and early ‘90s, following Slovenia’s gaining of independence in 1991, Jansa embarked on a political course that has never ceased leading him ever further to the Right.
In 2015, Slovenia found itself along the infamous “Balkan route,” which was utilized by more than one million migrants to illegally enter the European Union. At the end of August of that year, Hungary’s border with Serbia was closed, causing migrants to flow through Croatia and Slovenia instead. From there, the refugees went on to Austria in order to reach Germany, but as soon as Vienna blocked the border post at Spielfeld in early March 2016, Ljubljana immediately closed its border with Croatia. The authorities’ fear was that thousands of refugees would be trapped in their country.
Since this winter, the numbers of migrants entering Greece from Turkey are increasing again, and this time they are converging on northwestern Bosnia and Herzegovina, from where they are trying to cross into Croatia: from there, the Slovene border is only 150 kilometers away. Austrian Interior Minister Herbert Kickl of the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) has already announced the creation of a Border Protection Unit, and his new Italian counterpart, Matteo Salvini, the leader of the League, also promises to treat border security with the utmost firmness.
Wedged between the two countries, Slovenia represents a weak point along the EU border, unless Jansa manages to establish an “Alpine axis” blocking all access to the rest of the continent. The European Right is not mistaken: many are discussing the “European challenge” represented by the Slovene elections.