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Miro Cerar: A Breathe of Fresh Air or Business as Usual in Slovenia?

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A lawyer and a legal expert, university professor and author, musician, advisor for the government, athlete, son, husband and father — all of the above can describe Dr Miro Cerar. But this May he added a new role: politician. So how did he get here?

Miro Cerar is an un­likely can­di­date for Prime Min­is­ter in Slove­nia. Sports, law and pol­i­tics were part of his child­hood, as was minor star­dom due to his fa­mous par­ents. Born on the 25th of Au­gust 1963 in Ljubl­jana to one of the coun­try's best gym­nasts, Miroslav Cerar, and to Zdenka Cerar, a state pros­e­cu­tor and the first Sloven­ian woman Min­is­ter of Jus­tice. His fa­ther was also a lawyer, but is more known for his ath­letic achieve­ments: he won three Olympic medals, seven world cham­pi­onships and nine Eu­ro­pean cham­pi­onships medals and was one of the founders of Sloven­ian Olympic Com­mit­tee. His mother was vice pres­i­dent of the po­lit­i­cal party Lib­eral De­moc­rats, but also a two time state cham­pion in gym­nas­tics. As a child, Miro was not so tal­ented at gym­nas­tics, so he played bas­ket­ball, which he still en­joys with his chil­dren. But he wasn't only into sports, he went to music school, where he learned how to play the ac­cor­dion and later, the gui­tar to im­press girls. In uni­ver­sity, he even had a band called Alan Ford. How­ever, as exit polls show, he and his newly-formed Miro Cerar's Party are the win­ners of Sun­day night's elec­tion.

Miro Cerar stud­ied law at the Uni­ver­sity of Ljubl­jana, and after fin­ish­ing, he be­came an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor. In 1990, he got the op­por­tu­nity to help write the Con­sti­tu­tion of Re­pub­lic of Slove­nia and later other im­por­tant leg­is­la­tion. Today, he is a full­time pro­fes­sor at the Fac­ulty of Law and a renowned au­thor and scholar, in­clud­ing a stint in 2008 as a Ful­bright vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor at Golden Gate Uni­ver­sity in San Fran­cisco. For his work he has re­ceived dif­fer­ent awards, in­clud­ing best ed­u­ca­tor at the Fac­ulty of Law, three times as the most promi­nent Sloven­ian legal ex­pert and twelve times se­lected as one of Slove­nia’s most in­flu­en­tial ju­rists.

He is one of the many non-pro­fes­sional politi­cians that are a ris­ing phe­nom­e­non in the Eu­ro­pean coun­tries over the last years. Their pop­u­lar­ity mainly comes from not hav­ing a po­lit­i­cal past that is usu­ally con­nected to cor­rup­tion, failed laws, bad gov­er­nance, deep­en­ing the coun­tries’ debt and rais­ing its taxes. These new politi­cians are not being tied to the deep­en­ing crises but rep­re­sent a new face and hope for the coun­try. He of­fi­cially en­tered the Sloven­ian po­lit­i­cal sphere on June 2nd when his po­lit­i­cal party, called the Miro Cerar's Party (SMC), was founded. From the be­gin­ning, elec­tion polls es­ti­mated that he would re­ceive more than 30% of votes in the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. He will prob­a­bly be the next Prime Min­is­ter and will be re­spon­si­ble for form­ing a new coali­tion. Who he will form it with is the most pop­u­lar ques­tion nowa­days in the coun­try. 

Miro Cerar thinks that his sup­port among cit­i­zens comes from the fact that he is a new face with a new po­lit­i­cal party. Peo­ple feel that he can be the last chance for Slove­nia. As his party is only a month and a half old, they don’t have a his­tory of un­ful­filled promises, and peo­ple re­mem­ber him and other mem­bers of SMC as a cred­i­ble com­men­ta­tors of po­lit­i­cal events. It is in­ter­est­ing that 41% of SMC’s mem­bers on the elec­toral list have a Mas­ters or Doc­tor­ate of Sci­ence, which is a much higher per­cent­age than in other Sloven­ian po­lit­i­cal par­ties. There are a lot of pre­dic­tions, but Cerar doesn’t want to give away any names. As SMC is a po­lit­i­cal party in the cen­tre, they say dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing left and right wing par­ties only makes a coun­try ide­o­log­i­cally di­vided; thus, a lot of dif­fer­ent con­nec­tions are pos­si­ble. They be­lieve in com­bin­ing the el­e­ments of left and right par­ties, but their first pri­or­ity is to lead Slove­nia out of the cri­sis and es­tab­lish a higher po­lit­i­cal and ju­ridi­cal cul­ture.

So why did Cerar de­cided to go into pol­i­tics? As an ad­vi­sor for the Na­tional As­sem­bly, he was al­ways con­nected with pol­i­tics, but one year ago he started get­ting many of­fers: four dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal par­ties in­vited him to join them. He was also of­fered a post in pos­si­ble 'pro­ject gov­ern­ment' after the fall of Janez Janša’s gov­ern­ment in 2013. He didn’t feel that last year was the right time to enter pol­i­tics, but has been closely watch­ing what the new gov­ern­ment was doing to get Slove­nia out of the cri­sis. Mean­while, he was gath­er­ing a group of peo­ple with whom he shares views about the fu­ture of the coun­try. After the res­ig­na­tion of the gov­ern­ment this May, he de­cided that some­thing had to be done. Slove­nia needed an al­ter­na­tive po­lit­i­cal party to lead the coun­try out from the cri­sis, as the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal par­ties are not help­ing, in­stead, being pre­oc­cu­pied with ar­gu­ing amongst them­selves. As Cerar tweeted for his elec­toral cam­paign: “Ap­pear­ance is empty, if there is no con­tent be­hind it.” In the next few weeks, we will see if be­hind Cerar’s façade, there is real sub­stance that will be pos­i­tive for Slove­nia.