Borut Pahor, the leader of the Social Democrats and self-styled (literally!) next Prime Minister yesterday cut another notch in his belt which (to put it colorfully) holds his would-be-primeministerial pants. Namely, he snached Mitja Gaspari from the arms of the rival left-wing LDS singining “an agreement on political cooperation” with him.
Photo by Matej Družnik (source)
You probably remember Mitja Gaspari as the not-so-lucky loser of the presidential elections when he lost second place to Danilo Türk by less than 3000 votes. Türk went on to win the second round and be elected President with the largest majority ever, while Gaspari was sort of left sulking in the corner, perhaps feeling that LDS on whose balot he ran did not do enough to support him (bear in mind that this party is only begining to recuperate from a disastrous breakdown following losing the 2004 election).
But Gaspari was one (well, the only one) of LDS’s remaining assets. A victim of Janša’s devious backstabbing, Gaspari is considered to be more or less politically clean – although, truth be said, he did (or was forced to) cut some corners early in his career as a finance minister and later as the Governor of the Central Bank. For this (and for the fact that he is considered to be an economic gradualist) he is roundly hated by more fervent of reformists (the Young Economists as they are known here).
Be that as it may be, Gaspari makes the left part of the voting body generaly feel good. And with Borut Pahor co-opting him, the latter has gained some much need firm ground in economy. Curiously enough, by doing so, he emulated Janša’s co-opting the Sexy MotherFuckers (a.k.a. The Young Economists, organised into Slovene Macroeconomic Forum (SMF) and somethimes lovingy called by their pimp-name). Which can of course be interpreted as a lack of economic background by Pahor and his immediate team.
There are subtle differences, though. While Janša was advocating hasty reforms and bought a pre-packaged economic platform (together with hate speech aimed at anyone who didn’t approve of reforms), Pahor is apparently intent on making Gaspari a super-minister who will coordinate economic, social and financial portfoilos, a sort of Slovene version of Wolfgang Clement.
Furthermore, Gaspari’s turning from one party to another is a huge blow to LDS which as of yesterday has little to show to the electorate save an admittedly attractive president (sorry, Borut!) and a star-studded but out-of-the-spotlight team of economists. This was more than obvious yesterday when party president Katarina Kresal said that “a change of government is in this country’s best interests but if thinking that one can rule alone is a huge mistake” (source). Which of course would be correct had LDS been at a par with the Social Democrats in the public opinion polls.
While I am the first to agree that Borut Pahor and his Social Democrats are quite likely to get too cocky too soon (probably even before the elections which might very well cost them the victory), the trend as it stands now is obvious: we are at the height of political consolidation, where both main parties (opposition SD and Janša’s rulling SDS) are in the market for any of the remaining players who would bring aditional votes, while the rest of the political spectrum are either left gaping, are overly self-involved or increasingly working on their platforms – case in point being Zares (remember them?) which is today held it’s platform conference. Oh, and by the way: Lea Iskra, assistant to Borut Pahor in his Brussels office, was working for the campaign of France Arhar, a conservative candidte for Ljubljana mayor supported by Janša’s coalition. I’m not saying that she shouldn’t switch jobs or even alleignances – I’m just trying to point out that people is general are feeling a showdown in imminent and most of them feel they need to pick sides.
Slovene political parties are digging in and drafting every free player available. An all-stars game is yet to be scheduled, but the Left and the Right team are already in the gym. So, who wants courtside tickets?