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“Politics has not shown that it could be an authority. Some politicians can no longer behave appropriately for their positions – and authority is when you know what is appropriate and what is not,” is convinced Marjan Šarec. Borut Pahor, on the other hand, believes that the problem in politics is that of honesty. “We can thus interpret a whole series of successes, which were unexpected, as the deep rift between politics and people was bridged by new patterns of behavior.”

At this week’s AmCham Business Breakfast, “Are There Any Authorities Left in the Modern World?”, the two presidential candidates, Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia, and Marjan Šarec, Mayor of Kamnik, presented their positions on authority. Questions by Martina Merslavič, trainer and Own the Room Adriatic Region Lead, were answered by Janez Škrabec, CEO, Riko d.o.o., Manager of the Year 2017, Miha Mazzini, PhD, writer, Iztok Čop, Olympic Champion and one of the best Slovenian top athletes, and Žiga Vavpotič, Chairman, Outfit7, in addition to the two presidential candidates.

The presidential discussion focused on subjects, important to the business community. At first, they discussed talents, how to raise them in Slovenia, and how Slovenia should become the right country for their development. Marjan Šarec explained that the educational system needs to be changed, so that children are no longer told to go to school, so that they will not have to work. “Every work is respected, everyone has to express their talent. Professions will change; in a few years, new professions will rise, which are today beyond our knowledge. We should never tell anyone that they are incapable of something, since they can be brilliant in some other field,” said Šarec, advising the youth not to listen to others, but follow their own dreams.

Here, Borut Pahor added that he is very fond of the Slovenian educational system, since schools today represent the space where personalities develop. “The school system provides a lot of knowledge, but not enough of what is needed by the young – courage, curiosity, persistence. This can be equated to authorities; however, they must also know how to resist authorities. If we want to survive as a nation and strengthen our positions, we will have to reinforce this aspect. And we also lack the practice of best examples,” explained Pahor, adding that we have a big problem in Slovenia, as we rarely say that something is good, but always look for the bad.

"Politics will earn public confidence when it is effective"

Šarec explained that we need to have a clear and in-depth discussion on the changes in all areas of society, and to change the political system, since we currently do not elect people, but parties. “Politics will earn public confidence when it is effective,” suggested Šarec. Pahor added that a deep rift has formed recently between public confidence and politics. In his opinion, it is a competition between good and evil, with evil currently in the lead. “I do not find it difficult to make a wrong decisions if I know some good will come out of it. We need to move beyond the usual framework and change our practices in politics to once again earn public confidence,” added Pahor.

Other speakers were also given an opportunity to pose questions to the two candidates. Miha Mazzini asked the candidates about the characteristics they most admire in each other. Pahor said that Šarec is a very humorous person and that he respects this greatly. Šarec responded that he most admires Pahor’s persistence. “He is a very good and capable politician, able to withstand pressure, criticism, and differing opinions, which I admire and respect greatly,” he said.

"I managed to survive 25 years of change because I helped create them"

Iztok Čop
asked Pahor and Šarec how difficult it is to say something that they know people want to hear, but which they do not believe in themselves. Šarec replied that debates are such as they are prepared by others, and that this year’s campaign is unbearable, since reporters are interested in everything else but content. He expressed his wish for a different campaign, without shows and elements that do not belong in a political campaign. “Considering that I have not been in politics for 30 years, I am not very skilled in certain areas, but my heart and soul are in the right place,” he added. Here, Pahor explained that it is clear that people in politics have to make compromises between their own positions and positions for the public. “Personally, I follow the principle that I make the compromise if it does not significantly affect my vision. I managed to survive 25 years of change because I helped create them,” he said.

Žiga Vavpotič asked the candidates what they would do on taxing wages to make companies competitive and remain in Slovenia. Marjan Šarec said that we need to start at the beginning to get politics that will serve the economy. “The goal is to have as many companies as possible, which will operate and provide jobs, alleviating the pressure on the ‘flagship’ companies.” The larger the economy, the lower the taxation; however, we have to increase our investments into people. And laws should be written by people from practice, not from theory,” said Šarec. Pahor explained that he himself was always a proponent of the employer contribution cap, since it could help retain the human resources required for development and technological progress, i.e. the segment of production that represents an increase of value added. “If politics and public officials exclude ourselves from this system and let wages become balanced, unions will also relent,” added Pahor. He also elaborated that we live in a situation where people are convinced that the system is not fair, that it favors one side while limiting the other, and that abuses of authority are not punished. In his opinion, a rational discussion is not yet possible. It will only be possible when economic growth stabilizes as sustained, creating confidence. At that time, a long-term beneficial discussion will be possible. “Slovenia is a European country with the lowest level of income inequality; neither the government or the employers, nor the unions have much maneuvering space here. We will have to find other ways,” added Pahor.

"Will Slovenia end up in the core of Europe, along Germany and France"

Janez Škrabec
expressed his wish for a more integrated Europe, asking the candidates what they will do to make Europe more integrated. Šarec said that Europe is necessary, as shifts that we are not yet aware of will begin to occur if the European Union disintegrates. In his opinion, it was unfortunate that Brexit occurred, adding that not enough effort was made by Europe, not enough discreet diplomacy, to prevent it. “I hope for a stable Europe. Not more Europe, but a better Europe. Open borders, monetary union, we have to preserve it. I will make every effort to keep the European Union on the foundations on which it was built,” he said. Pahor explained that he dedicated his first mandate to reconciliation, achieving great results, but that his second mandate will focus more on Europe. In the upcoming years, the key decision will be on where Slovenia ends up in a multi-speed Europe and the results of speed differences become apparent. “Will Slovenia end up in the core of Europe, along Germany and France, which is not an unambiguous decision with purely positive effects, or in another group? “This is the key question, and I hope Slovenia ends up in the top-speed Europe,” said Pahor, adding that it is very important that people making this decision understand the significance of this discussion for their children.

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