Friday last Slovene parliament voted on a rather important piece of legislation – the regions. Non-Slovene regulars to this puny little blog have heard of read of Štajerska, Primorska, Dolenjska, Gorenjska, Prekmurje, and other Slovene regions. But speaking from a constitutional point of view Slovenia never had regions – only municipalities (the so called first layer of self-government). Two hundred and ten of them.
The proposed division into regions which was not to be (source)
But as the drive for municipalities got out of hand, more and more people realized that a further division on a new level is needed, which brings us to regions. But as they were not created simultaneously with municipalities the latter were given enormous powers which they are unwilling to relinquish them in favour of regions. For example: Municipality of Sveti Miklavž na Dravskem polju which boasts some 5900 individuals (a tenth of whom are unemployed) has exactly the same powers as the City of Ljubljana (pop. 270.000), meaning that it can establish schools, primary health care, fire and civil defence, it has its own municipal council, municipal government, et cetera…
Out of 210 Slovene municipalities 198 are unable to sustain themselves which means that the state chips in on a regular basis (all municipalities get state funds, but some disproportionally more than others). All the more so if the mayor happens to be an MP as well which is the case with quite a few Slovene members of parliament. Especially they are vigorously opposed to creation of regions as it would most likely cost them their seat in the parliament. You know – no money, no funny. And if they don’t bring the dough no more, the people gonna find themselves someone who do…
So passing the legislation on regions is nearly impossible in Slovenia as long as mayors can also serve as MPs and vice versa.
Having said that, however, Prime Minister Janez Janša knew that and still pressed on with the legislation which didn’t even enjoy the support of all ministers (minister for civil service was vigorously opposed). He pressed on and failed. Which is no disaster unto itself. Regions can wait. The only problem is that this was the last of the “big” project of Janez Janša and his government. He just fired his last usable round of political ammo and missed, which brings the total sum of his four years in office to a complete zero.
Want a rundown?
- He ran on a ticket of radical neo-liberal reforms and all he could manage was a reduced tax scale because the unions went apeshit. Ass-whooping numero un.
- He tried to take Ljubljana in local elections by backing France Arhar but people owerwhelmingly voted for Zoran Janković. Ass-whooping numero dos.
- He tried to subjugate the media and instead Laško snacthed Delo and Večer from him. Ass-whooping numero tres.
- He tried to get his candidate elected in presidential elections but the people went for left-wing Danilo Türk. Ass-whooping cuatro.
- He made a big show of “a new start” in relations between Slovenia and Croatia, but Croatia presented him with an extended maritime area of control. Ass-whooping numero cinco.
- He boasted of high GDP growth (even sans reforms) but got us higher inflation which ain’t going away even when the growth cools dows. Ass-whooping numero seis.
- He vehemently started presiding over the EU but didn’t even last a week without screwing up and having Potrugese PM slam him over a careless remark. Ass-whooping numero sete.
- And now he proposed legislation on regions, but crashed and burned magnificently in the parliament. Ass-whooping supreme (number eight, if you’re still keeping count)
So, the total result of Janša’s first term in office thusfar (some eight months before the elections) is: Zero. Zilch. Niente. Nothing. Nada.