State of Presidential Play

With 2017 slowly settling in, it is high time pengovsky takes a look at the biggest political event scheduled this year in Slovenia. Namely, the presidential elections. While unimportant on the larger scale of things, especially with looming French and German elections and whatnot, the popular vote on the largely (but not completely) ceremonial post is still interesting as it will function both as a large scale public opinion poll as well as a prequel to the parliamentary elections, expected to take place some time in 2018. So, to get one’s bearings and to provide some light entertainment, here is the lay of the presidential land in Slovenia.


Who will piss in Borut Pahor‘s pool? (source)

In Slovenia, the President of the Republic has limited powers. Arguably, his biggest role is nominating candidates for top positions in the state apparatus. Specifically, he nominates candidates for prime minister, constitutional judges as well as governor and vice-governors of the Central Bank. However, his nominations require the approval of the parliament which often-times means that the president is (at worst) merely rubber-stamping horse-trading between parliamentary parties or (at best) is actively involved in finding a consensus candidate, which usually does not translate into the best possible candidate. But such is life.

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The Alternative President

It’s been 72 hours since The Donald was sworn in as the 45th US president and it is already clear that the next three-to-four years are going to be. So. Much. Fun.

I mean, yes, it will not be pleasant, to say the least. But the US will recover. Let’s not forget just how indignant the same crowd (more or less) was when Dubya was appointed president in 2000. Many people were freely using the term coup d’etat at that point. And indeed, this has brought at least two wars, human suffering beyond belief and an economic catastrophe of biblical proportions. True, it wasn’t all George W.’s responsibility and when shit hit the fan economically, it was the black man left holding the bag, but there you go.

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Theresa May Day

The much-anticipated Brexit Speech by British PM Theresa May yesterday was dubbed the biggest speech of her career. But if there ever was an overhyped media event, this was it. In fact, even the annual State of the European Union addresses by Jean-Claude Juncker have more zest (especially when he goes off-script). But the fact that she basically reiterated that Brexit means Brexit, only in longer sentences, should surprise nobody.

PM Theresa May using longer sentences to say that Brexit still means Brexit (source)

To be fair, May did try and put some meat onto the shaky English skeleton flipping the bird to Europe. She has, for all intents and purposes, outlined the UK’s opening positions when and if Article 50 is triggered. The meat being so-called Clean Brexit.

OT: Did you notice how the narrative has changed? It’s no longer Hard Brexit versus Soft Brexit (with soft being instinctively preferable) but rather Clean Brexit versus… Muddy (Dirty? Unclean?) Brexit. The name alone is designed to make it instantly more appealing to the masses. So, expect this Clean Brexit narrative to be pushed, well, hard, for the next couple of weeks until the March/April deadline for triggering Article 50 (or will that be rebranded as “launching Article 50”?) starts to loom large.

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Respite Van Der Bellen

The fact that Norbert Hofer of the Austrian Freedom Party came within a whisker of winning the country’s presidency speaks volumes. Indeed, it is a sign of times that a Neo-Nazi candidate winning “only” forty-six percent of the vote is considered a success for the democratic order. The sad reality is that the election of Alexander van der Bellen for Austrian president is merely a respite from the onslaught of forces of destruction and division that have engulfed much of Europe and the Western world in general. A welcome respite, to be sure, but a respite nevertheless. The shit has not yet stopped hitting the fan.


The Most Interesting van der Bellen In The World (source)

That van der Bellen defeated Hofer twice and with a larger margin on the second go is a silver lining and perhaps strengthens the rationale for a second Brexit referendum. But one should not count on the far-right tide ebbing across Europe. Not with the Dutch, French and German elections still in play and with their own Neo-Nazis well positioned to make substantial gains and sow further discord and hatred. This, of course, was made possible (not solely but in substantial part) by several critical failures of both the European project as well as of the underlying concept of post-war liberal democratic order.

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Storm In A Populist Teacup

For a few long moments on Thursday it seemed as if the government of Miro Cerar drew its last breath. The issue at hand was an agreement between the minister of health Milojka Kolar Celarc and the FIDES, the medical doctors’ trade union (not to be confused with Victor Orban’s Fidesz) which ostensibly put an end to the MDs’ week-long strike. The thing is that at the same time the other public sector unions were negotiating with the government on rolling back austerity measures and getting what they see is their due. On top of that the doctors, unusually, weren’t getting a pass by the public opinion which normally forgave their antics regardless of how baseless they may have been (because doctors and shit). All of this while the government was about to unveil a much-anticipated draft of health-sector reform, a move which by definition makes a lot of players with plenty of vested interest, mighty nervous. But in the end, it all amounted to nothing.

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The Three Amigos (source, source and source)

Namely, while Karl Erjavec of DeSUS and Dejan Židan of SD were raising hell in the last couple of days on account of minister Kolar Celarc supposedly agreeing to exempt the doctors from a mechanism that regulates wages across the entire public sector, the true reasons for the entire circus were purely political and aimed at obscuring the fact that both junior coalition parties can ill afford parliamentary elections right now, for reasons both political and financial. And this, more or less goes for all political parties with the possible exception of the SMC.

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