Authoritarian Populism Index.

The Authoritarian Populism Index is developed by Timbro.

Timbro is the leading free market think tank in the Nordic countries. Our mission is to promote and disseminate ideas supporting the principles of free markets, free enterprise, individual liberty and a free society. Timbro was founded in 1978 by Sture Eskilsson and the Swedish Employers’ Association, a precursor to the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise.  Since 2003, Timbro is financed by the Swedish Free Enterprise Foundation.


International outreach and translation supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Atlas Network.


Populism Rank: 11


Voter support for radical left in last elections (2022): -4.8%.
Voter support for radical right in last elections: -4,1%.
Populist or radical parties in government (March 2024): none
Number of radical or populist MEP:s (2019): 2/8

01 Speakers

Since independence in 1991, Slovenia has had a multi-party system with relatively high turnover of parties. There has been a consensus regarding the importance of European integration and a generally Western-oriented policy, with exceptions for fringe parties. Most governments have been coalition governments.


The Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) is a pro-market and social conservative populist party founded in 1989 as the Social Democratic Party. Led by Janez Jansa since 1993, it exhibits moderate nationalism and sometimes xenophobic rhetoric. Party leader Jansa, occasionally dubbed “Marshal Tweeto” due to his social media activity, has steered the party in a populist and partly autocratic direction, evident in its name change to SDS in 2003.

The first SDS government (2004-08) faced widespread criticism for allegedly meddling in the independence of the press. Accusations include politicising the press by appointing political allies to key positions in state-owned media outlets and using state-owned funds to purge critical editors and journalists. SDS claims that there is a bias in Slovenian media favouring the left, initiating what Janša termed a “War with the media.” Janša’s government has cultivated party-aligned media outlets, accused of false reporting, hate speech, and political manipulation. Critics argue that Janša’s aggressive stance towards the media has chilled press freedom, sparking concern from international observers, including the US State Department and the European Parliament. Changes to laws governing public broadcaster RTV Slovenia increased political control over its editorial board, leading to a referendum challenge. 


A secret 2007 deal granted Jansa editorial influence over the flagship national newspaper Delo, causing resignations and difficulties for critical reporting. Journalists launched a petition against media pressures, supported by international organisations, while SDS denied impropriety, claiming media control by leftist opposition groups.

Janez Jansa

In the 2011 snap parliamentary election, SDS won 26 percent of the vote but succeeded in forming a ruling coalition government amid economic downturn, implementing economic reforms including privatisation, budget cuts, and austerity measures. However, the reforms failed to alleviate economic troubles, leading to increased unemployment, falling living standards, and a recession. Protests erupted nationwide against austerity measures and corruption allegations, culminating in the collapse of the government and the appointment of a new Prime Minister in 2013.


In early 2020, disagreements over health insurance reform led to the resignation of Slovenia’s finance minister and Prime Minister Šarec, prompting a call for early elections. SDS managed to form a new government with the support of New Slovenia, DeSUS, and SMC, despite previous opposition to a Janša-led government from all three parties. Janša assumed office as Prime Minister for the third time with the coalition agreement outlining various policies including reintroduction of military service, healthcare reforms, carbon neutrality commitment, decentralisation, and tax reductions.


In a report on the state of democracy in Slovenia, Freedom House argued that “the current right-wing government has continued attempts to undermine the rule of law and democratic institutions, including the media and judiciary”.

Levica (The Left) is a left-wing populist party founded in 2014 as a coalition of several green, progressive and radical left forces that subsequently merged into a party in 2017. It has been part of the coalition government since 2022. It is leftist on economic issues, strongly sceptical of Nato membership, and progressive on social issues.

Zmago Jelinčič, part leader of SNS

The Slovenian national party (SNS) is a nationalist party that gained 10 percent in the first democratic elections in independent Slovenia in 1992, a year after which they were formed. The SNS were anti-immigration, anti-minority and against Slovenia’s accession to EU and Nato. They remained in parliament until 2022. They never participated in government but provided confidence-and-supply between 2018-20

EP elections

Number of authoritarian or populist MEP:s (2019): 2/8


SDS has been represented in the EP since Slovenia joined in 2004. SDS has always been a part of the EPP group, currently holding three seats. 


No Slovenian MEP has ever represented the far left or one of the far right groups in the EP.

SDS summary

Economics: RIGHT
Social issues: CONSERVATIVE
Democratic credibility: MEDIUM

Zelica summary

Economics: LEFT
Social issues: PROGRESSIVE
Democratic credibility: HIGH