Populist Mobilizations in Re-Traditionalized Society: Anti-Gender Campaigning in Slovenia
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 extreme 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. Populist right of post-socialist Slovenia found the 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 with right-wing and religious actors re-gaining 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 the actors in anti-gender movement. Their main orientation is to obstruct women's sexual and reproductive rights and rights of same-sex couples by creating moral panics around alleged endangerment of »our nation's children«, who are either being aborted by heartless women or adopted by queers.