Slovenia has a new political party. Zares (literally: For Real) is promising just a little less than kingdom come. Specifically: politics done in a new way. Which would all be fine and dandy, of course, if the core of the party weren’t made of people who have already twisted and shaped Slovenia and its politics.
Gregor Golobič, former gen-sec of LDS, now president of Zares (photo: www.zares.si)
Now – as Winston Churchill already noted, anyone can rat (but it takes a certain amount of ingeniuity to re-rat). So forming a new party, albeit on the left side of political spectrum is nothing new. It has been done before. As a political scientist and analyst I warmly welcome the entrance of yet another player in the political arena for it spells interesting times ahead.
I do, however, have several misgivings about this new party and its platform. I must stress that these misgivings are mostly based on previous experience and history of several key players of the new party. But that does not mean that I’m condeming the party as incompetent from the start or that I’m not giving it a benefit of the doubt. It only means that – like any other player in the political arena – it will not get any breaks. Not from me, not from anyone else.
Probably the single most important person of the new party is its freshly-elected president Gregor Golobič. If you are following Slovene politics only for a short time or from afar (or both) you might not have heard of him, but this man is considered by many as one of the most brilliant political strategists this side of the border. He reached the peak as secretary-general of the Liberal Democrats under the leadership of Janez Drnovšek, where Golobič was seen by many as the guy who actually runs the show – basically LDS’s No.2 man (a claim he never really disputed). Think of him as Slovenian Karl Rove of the late 1990s.
The comparison with the loathed US Republican mastermind might even be well in place as Golobič was LDS’s gen-sec during a period of very strong “partitocracy”, where certain (economic, media and even political) fiefdoms were created and given – delegated, if you will – to would be Slovenian oligarchs. That trully was the period when (like today under Janša‘s rule) one could not achieve anything of importance if one was not at least heavily connected with key people in LDS. Now, it could be that Golobič did not directly control these “fiefdoms”, but being the “almost-top dog” makes him wholely responsible for the situation which – as it happened – led to the removal of LDS from power and its later near-demise.
Not that Golobič stuck around to witness the demise, of course. As soon as he saw that the party was about to enter a downward spiral, he bugged out and kept to the sidelines until last Saturday when he became the top dog of the new party.
The new party tries to drum up the hype of late 80’s, early 90’s when Slovenia was abuzz with new political ideas, when (to put it romantically) men were men, women were women and politicians were heroes (and three-breasted whores from Eroticon VI were three-breasted whores from Eroticon VI). It, in short, is trying to rekindle the flame of political invention which once burned within the Organisation of Socialist Youth (ZSMS), where the drive for democratic and social change in Slovenia actually began.
There is only one problem, though. These people (and Golobič in particular) are not kids anymore. If twenty years ago they were considered brats, pests and new kids in town (all at the same time), they are now established politicians with a more or less old-school liberal agenda. Twenty years ago these people have promised politics done in a new way. And today they are promising it again. Same old, same old.
On that note, let me just add that on-line media Vest is – according to Vuk Čosić, one of its creators, trying to drum up the same feeling of late 80’s (see comments to this post), and that a re-launch of Vest as we know it today took place only a couple of weeks before Zares held its first conference. A coincidence? 😈
As a political analyst I almost see it as my duty to dispell the notion that politics can be done in a different way. It can’t. You can bitch about it, curse it, do whatever you want, but in the end any politics will have to compromise, will become a purpose unto itself, arrogant, corrupt and ineffective. That’s why we have elections and a supposedly democratic system of government with at least a theoretical set of checks and balances. And while Zares and its people may promise to do it differently, it will end up doing it exactly the same way as everyone else did. As they once already did it.
But Zares also brings a shitload of new faces (both in the media spotlight and behind the scenes), one might say. I fear that most of these faces will be used, abused and then rejected as they will have outlived their usefulness when and if Zares gains momentum and power. Then there’s another possibility – that Zares doesn’t make it. In that case I suspect that Golobič would be quick on his feet to leave the party saying that the exepriment failed (perhaps adding that Slovenia isn’t ready for them just yet.)
In any case, Zares does not bring about a promise of a political revolution, let alone instant advent of better days. To do anything, it will have to be in power. And that requires adheering to rules of classic politics. And just to illustrate my point – in an interview in 2004, Golobič said that “when someone who claims to be clean and incorruptible comes to power, this spells a rampant corruption and clientelism ahead” (in Slovene only)
As the Serbs would say: Ne možeš da jebeš, al’ da ne udješ (you can’t fuck if you don’t stick it in)