Pahor rode to power in 2012 on a wave of popularity aided by his candid and colourful Instagram account
Donald Trump may rule Twitter but he is no match for his Slovenian counterpart on Instagram.
Borut Pahor, also known as Barbie, has been actively using social media to get his message across since 2012.
He started releasing his photos on Instagram, including one of him riding on a garbage truck in red overalls, ahead of the 2012 presidential election, which he went on to win, in defiance of polls suggesting to the contrary.
He now boasts 24,000 followers in the country of two million.
One if his posts shows him topless with a tattoo of a dolphin on his shoulder; in another he is repairing a road. Theres also Pahor on a football field and skiing down the slopes. Yet another post shows has him preparing to swim in a wetsuit.
Theres also one with former US president Barack Obama, captioned: The most inspiring.
Barbie, and not a bad guy, reads his comment on a photo that shows him having makeup being applied to his face. The nickname comes from his modelling days while studying political science in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.
On one post he is shown with supermodel Naomi Campbell. On another he speaks to U2 frontman Bono. A photo of him leaning against a marble stairway in the presidential palace in Egypt in 2016, with the caption homesick in Cairo, has inspired many Slovenians to copy his pose, which became known as #boruting on social media.
Communications between people and politicians are changing all the time, Pahor said. Instagram is most used by young people. In a period of distrust of politics, this is a way to reach them.
However, he said, he had no illusions that such communication can replace direct contact. Life contact with people is the most important.
Pahor acknowledged that he runs the risk of being labeled as a populist. I accept that risk. But there is difference between negative and positive populism, Pahor said.
Judging from the ratings, Pahors Instagram activity doesnt do him any harm. A recent survey shows that 52% of Slovenians hold him in positive regard and just 16% view him negatively.
Marko Rakar, a political consultant, called it light populism.
He is basically publishing photos which are appropriate to a point of [being] funny, Rakar said. Hes trying to present himself as a likeable person doing a lot of stuff.
Rakar said Pahors Instagram activity was not the same as Donald Trumps famous Twitter messages.
Instagram is not really a communication [platform] for sending political messages, he said. Twitter is much more suitable for politics.
Pahor has also shown political ambitions that somewhat outgrow the tiny Alpine states international position. He has offered to host the first meeting between Trump and Vladimir Putin, having recently shuttled between German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and Putin in Moscow.
Then he went to Ukraine, where a recent flare-up threatened to reignite hostilities between Russian-backed rebels and government troops.
Although Slovenia is a European Union member and supports the blocs sanctions against the Kremlin for its role in Ukraine, it has maintained traditional ethnic ties to Russia. That puts Pahor in an almost unique mediating position between the east and the west.
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