A bit like Snopes but for Slovenia

I get asked many questions about Slovenia, often of the “this must be fakenews, right?” variety. Let’s get a few of the safe-for-work ones out of the way before we move on to transgender doctors shagging man-killer dogs* and worse**.

*Yes you read that right.

**It does get worse.

Is the Prime Minister of Slovenia a former comedian and the President of Slovenia a former model?

Yes. Our Prime Minister, Mr. Marjan Šarec, used to be an actor, an impersonator and a comedian, and according to some he still is, (he’s alright, as far as politicians go). And our President, Mr. Borut Pahor used to be a model, and he’s never shy to flaunt his model credentials. Feel free to check out his Instagram @borutpahor. Look for beach selfies while you’re there because the dude keeps fit.

Did Slovenians recycle their failed Prime Minister and make him their President?

Yes. The abovementioned Borut Pahor used to be our PM and, fairly or not, he was widely perceived as a complete failure, as confirmed by a lost confidence vote that saw him through the door. Almost immediately*** after, he ran for president and won easily, which left some people fuming but most of us thought his new job was a much better fit. In all seriousness, Mr. Pahor comes across as a genuinely nice fellow who adores the spotlight and honestly tries to be the president of all Slovenians. And that’s a challenging job. No matter where you’re from, you probably think that your country is dangerously divided with no reconciliation in sight – welcome to the Slovenian experience! We’ve been living in this highly-polarised political reality for… well forever, actually, if you discount a few decades of Socialism when people hated each other more quietly. Anyway, all I can do is wish the best of luck to anyone who tries to preside over such a hot mess. As for the rest of us: relax, it’s going to be okay. Maybe.

***People winning all kinds of elections after a three-week campaign has become a regular occurrence in Slovenia.

Why doesn’t the Slovenian president look over a hundred years old?

Because he’s not. You’re thinking Boris Pahor the writer, who is a different fella altogether. Boris (not Borut) Pahor is one truly extraordinary individual. He fought the Nazis (who sent him to Dachau not once but twice), condemned the Commies and survived them both. He’s currently giving a hard time to Italian neo-fascists. If you need to be reminded of what war, Nazism and Fascism look like up close, do read his autobiographical novel Necropolis about his WWII interment. The guy has just turned 106 (that is: one-hundred-and-six years old). Sharp as a knife, he is well-informed on the current goings-ons, and maintains a keen interest in politics for reasons that don’t need to be explained (in case they do: the man has scars to prove what can happen when politics goes awry). As the result of his international recognition, undisputed courage and miraculously intact faculties, he gets to say whatever he likes, and people listen. And you thought you were special.

Is Melania Trump really Slovenian?

Apparently this gets asked. Yes, she most certainly is Slovenian, from Slovenia. She was born when Slovenia was still a part of the former Yugoslavia (that’s the Balkan country that imploded in a series of genocides, mass rapes and general butchery known as the Yugoslav Wars in the 90s, and proceeded to shatter into a number of smaller countries, among them Slovenia we know today). I remember Melania well from when she was embarking on her modelling career – I used to watch modelling contests and beauty pageants religiously as a kid – and yes, she is real, she is Slovenian, and she is from the town of Sevnica in Slovenia. She was born Melanija Knavs and later switched to a more internationally-friendly Melania Knauss, so maybe that’s where the confusion comes from. Oddly enough, her fellow Sevnica-born Tanja Pečar is the life-partner of our President Borut Pahor (the model dude from above). That’s right, at least two different countries have first ladies from the same small Slovenian town. And there may be others because the fact you were born in Sevnica is not necessarily one you care to advertise.

Does Melania Trump look like a typical Slovenian?

Pretty much. Her eyes may have a somewhat unusual shape to them, given that the people here tend to have slightly rounder peepers, but otherwise she’s just like many women you’ll see if you come to Slovenia. On a related note, Melania is easily confused with another Slovenian blue-eyed brunette model, the sensational Martina Kajfež. They started out at about the same time and I guess this country wasn’t big enough for both of them and one had to pack up and go. For one reason or another, Slovenia has an obscene amount of beautiful people. This makes it difficult to stand out from the crowd looks-wise, which is why those who wish to turn their beauty into a career are often wise to do it abroad. Yes, we’ve exported/driven away many more Melanias so watch out.

Does Slovenia have a Black mayor?

It used to until very recently. Mr. Peter Bossman, a medical doctor from Ghana, was elected mayor of the city of Piran in 2010 and held office for two terms. Foreign media tried to make a big deal of his race because it coincided with Mr Obama’s presidency and made awesome click-bait, however, nobody here seems to consider it a big deal, including Mr. Bossman himself. Slovenians are racist alright but in their own unique way; we act inappropriately around other races, but we will usually not discriminate against them when it comes to jobs and such, (another story for another time I guess but in short: if you’re Black you’re safe to move to Slovenia and embark on whichever career suits you as long as you don’t mind the stares, lewd advances and dumb questions).

The only odd thing about the Bossman case is that, Ghanaian doctor and all, he was still too mundane for his electorate’s taste and got ousted by a guy who’s so certifiably-weird you wouldn’t believe me if I told you. Think if Trump and his soon-to-be successor Kanye had a child and the kid went off his medication, that’s how… unusual he is. Can’t wait to see who they elect next.

Does the capital city of Slovenia have a Serbian mayor & Is the mayor of Ljubljana a habitual criminal?

Half-true & probably true.

The mayor of Ljubljana (our capital city) is a certain Zoran Janković who was born in the present-day Serbia to a Slovenian mother and a Serbian father, which I suppose makes him half-Serbian. Maybe what causes people to perceive him as fully Serbian is his limited grasp of the Slovenian language, which, given that Slovenian is his freaking mother tongue, I’m inclined to believe is largely a show, possibly to court the Serbian population in Ljubljana, but more likely to lend credibility to him acting dumb, which he does instinctively when cornered. Like that time he was accused of money laundering and claimed he didn’t know how to turn on the washing machine. You get the picture.

As for him being a career criminal. There are so many indices that Mr. Janković (also known as “Mr. Ten Percent” because of his reputed 10% cut in all city projects) and his two sons (lovingly called “the feeble-minded princes”) have been involved in numerous felonies it’s difficult to delude yourself into thinking that they aren’t in fact a bunch of criminals. As of now, there are at least ten different pre-trial investigations and criminal proceedings underway against the old man alone. Yet he remains as popular as ever. I suppose we’ll have to wait and see if his charm and clout are enough to keep him out of the water this time. Note that he recently got out of a sex extortion trial scot-free, in spite of almost pornographic evidence against him, because the prosecutor conveniently forgot to file some papers… So, yeah. There’s some hope to be found in the fact that a few of his assets were recently frozen to pay for back-taxes or something, so maybe the Taxman will get him. We’ll see.

All in all, I guess he’s a rather typical mayor of a large city; I’d say it’s more than even money yours is just as bad. Go have a good look at what your own crook has been up to and feel free to let me know what you find.

I’ll do the girl with the sawn-off hand next time, promise.