Luka Mesec, MP and Coordinator of the Slovenian Levica (The Left), was the guest in the ninth edition of transform! europe's webinar series ‘Meeting the Left’. He spoke of the pandemic’s exposure of many shortcomings of capitalist systems, and pointed to opportunities for left politics.
Slovenia has managed the transition and adapted to the euro by adopting an export-oriented economy, with the EU countries as main trade partners. In the last five years its GDP grew by 4-5%. As a result, neither Slovenian politics nor public opinion express any real EU-scepticism.
However, the pandemic also plunged Slovenian exports into crisis. This year’s GDP is expected to decline by 7.8%, the worst slump since the economic crisis of 2009.
Mesec calls for a suspension of the EU Fiscal Compact to allow more fiscal autonomy for the Member States and for the implementation of an ambitious EU Green New Deal. Instead of the individual plans of certain Member States (for example, France and Germany), he proposes that EU funds go towards extending pan-European infrastructure such as the high-speed rail net and other public transportation With large-scale investments in green energy and the support of a green transition for cities and regions affected by coal mine closures. He added that adequately funded public services are also absolutely essential.
The pandemic has created opportunities for strengthening the left, Mesec observed, because it dramatically demonstrates the need for a strong welfare state. The role of the state is changing, and active state policy is now perceived as necessary by a broader public.
He adds, ‘Due to the crises, globalisation as we know it began to collapse, with global value chains partially breaking down. In Slovenia as in other parts of Europe, the states and national economies were unable to provide simple necessities such as face masks. It is time not only to open the question of a new role of the state and active state policies but also a de-globalising economy, more local production, and more weight to local communities and workers. I believe it is also time to change the predominant narrative of who is producing value’.
In addition, he underlined the importance of closer cooperation between the left forces of Slovenia's neighbouring countries in the confrontation with the far right.
With regard to the European left, Mesec concluded by emphasising the need for a debate on post-corona measures and policies within the left at the European level.
The role of the European left should be to convince the public that something must be done, as the EU can only continue to exist if it practises solidarity. If the EU does not succeed in creating a solidarity mechanism, ‘we will face very dark times’.