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ECPR Journals Virtual Special Issue

Ethno-Nationalist and Anti-Gender Populism in Slovenia

Political Parties
Social Movements
Political Ideology
Mojca Pajnik
University of Ljubljana
Mojca Pajnik
University of Ljubljana

The political shifts in the post 1989 period in Central and Eastern Europe and the military conflicts in the Balkans intensified ethnic nationalism in these societies, but simultaneously also gave rise to populism of the far right and consequently to hatred of minorities and a shift towards reifying national values that the communist regime allegedly suppressed. Slovenia as one of the former Yugoslav republics was no exception: the rise of the extreme right intensified ethno-nationalism coupled with authoritarian tendencies of governing “the people” by reproducing groups of the excluded. The populist right of post-socialist Slovenia found new enemies in various groups of “others” who were imagined as endangering the future of the nation and its people, such as migrants, women, LGBTQ+, “the erased”, Roma etc.
This paper suggests that recent trends of “exclusionary populism” evolved as a mixture of nationalization and re-traditionalization / anti-gender processes when right-wing and religious actors re-gained power after years of being repressed in the previous political system. Approaching populism at the crossroads of ideology and political style, this paper analyses communication strategies and discourses of selected right-wing populist actors in Slovenia. These include the anti-gender movement, which aims to obstruct women’s sexual and reproductive rights and rights of same-sex couples with the “argument” of protecting “our nation’s children” from being aborted or adopted by homosexuals. Empirically, we will focus on analyzing strategies of actors such as the Slovenian Democratic Party and the Catholic-church based Civil initiative for the Family and the Rights of Children to unravel framings of “problems with gender and nation” employed by these actors and their leaders. Particular attention will also be given to reflect the last parliamentary elections (from June 2018) that in the example of the SDP election campaign showed “spill-overs” when SDP anti-migration and anti-gender election strategies were copied from those employed by the Hungarian prime minister Victor Orbán and his governing Fidesz.
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