This is how the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) addressed Slovene households recently. With a newspaper-like publication entitled “The Smart Solution”. It’s a solid product with content one would expect. Plus a crossword puzzle that could win you a prize as nice as a TV set or an iPad. This is not what drew my attention.
The very top of the first page features statements of support from Angela Merkel and Jyrki Katainen. As I walked past the booths set up by political parties in down-town Ljubljana today, the one draped in yellow by SDS included a TV screen from which foreign politicians were expressing their support to the party or rather to its leader Janez Janša. The party boasts foreign or – as they term it – international support on both its Slovene website and the rather impressively extensive English site.
The first time I heard of Angela Merkel’s support for Janez Janša and saw the video, I thought it was a nice gesture in support of a member of the same European political group, but nothing really substantive. The German chancellor has offered support to colleagues before that she must have regretted, namely Ivo Sanader. Interestingly, his Wikipedia page includes a photo of him with both people on whose support SDS puts so much stress. But how could she have known that he would prove an embarrassment? In any case, this is beside the point unless the point is to show that Angela Merkel’s support for a politician does not necessarily mean said politician is the right choice.
My thoughts are elsewhere. Why would or why should Slovene voters care whether foreign politicians support a candidate or a party in a national election? As I voiced my reservation on Twitter, the response offered was that it was very important for Slovenia to have good relations with Germany. This is true, of course, but I do not remember Slovenia having anything but excellent relations with the great European economy. If I start the count after WWII, naturally.
The Hungarian head of state also expressed his support for SDS. Hungary. Seriously? Note its present condition. Yes, Viktor Orban, the autocrat, supports SDS. Of course it is logical that parties under the umbrella of the European People’s Party support each other and on the one hand, I most probably naively think it is a good sign that within the European Union, political ties based on agendas and not nationality are growing stronger. On the other hand, I think it ill to rely on an assessment of a politician who watches from a distance and has most probably not spent much of her time studying your country, much less lived in it or intends to do so.
It is my contention that foreign politicians meddling with national politics would be bad news. I am not, however, saying that this is the case with Merkel et al. I sincerely doubt that any of these national politicianswould ask Slovene voters outright to cast a vote for a specific politician or party. What they understand and what Slovene voters should understand is that they are bound by their national interests. They were elected to do what is best for their respective countries. Not ours.
Seeing foreigners advise Slovenes who to vote for leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Are we really so insecure and convinced of our own irrelevance that we feel worthy only when patted on the back from abroad? Can you imagine the leading party (per polls) in any other country setting up a booth to run videos of foreign politicians supporting them? Colour me annoyed.