Election 2020

Slovenia PM Frantically Tries to Justify Congratulatory Trump Call

Right-wing leader Janez Jansa called the election early—for the wrong side.

This article is part of Election 2020: America Votes, FP’s round-the-clock coverage of the U.S. election results as they come in, with short dispatches from correspondents and analysts around the world. The America Votes page is free for all readers.

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa attends a European Union summit in Brussels on Oct. 15. Yves Herman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa wasn’t as cautious as America’s decision desks about deciding a final winner of the U.S. presidential election. He offered his congratulations via tweet on Wednesday morning—to President Donald Trump, writing, “More delays and facts denying from #MSM, bigger the final triumph for #POTUS.”

Since his error, Jansa has been retweeting conspiracy theories and accusing the Democrats of mass voter fraud, in between attacks on the fierce protests in his own country. Picking up on Trumpist language, themes include condemning the supposed corruption of the mainstream media, calling it unfair that the election came down to votes in a handful of cities, and claiming that the courts will eventually decide in favor of Trump. News organizations that back Jansa, such as the far-right Nova24, have followed his lead, posting fictitious reports about voter fraud.

In some ways, the mistake was not surprising. Jansa is a far-right leader who has led a campaign against immigrants, served six months in prison after his second term as prime minister for corruption before Slovenia’s Constitutional Court overturned his conviction, and is a close ally of Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orban. He has been a strong supporter of Trump, endorsing him before the election, and leaning on ties to Slovenian-born first lady Melania Trump. It remains to be seen whether Jansa will eat his words and eventually congratulate the incoming president-elect, or whether he’ll continue to double down—not a recipe for friendship with the new administration.

James Palmer is a deputy editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @BeijingPalmer

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