A Referendum Up Janša’s Sleeve

After a quiet three-week period, we’ve had another poll by NinaMedia, which basically shows more of the same. Namely, that the oppostition Social Democrats and the ruling Slovene Democtratic Party are still neck-and-neck, with other parties trailing far behind. But the “far behind section” is fast becoming a three-way race, with Liberal democrats, Zares and now SNS all squeezing within one-and-a-half percent.

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Now that Borut Pahor has more or less made it clear that he will (at least at first) seek to form a left-wing coalition with Zares and LDS, a complete polarisation of Slovene politics is imminent if not already here. This is why a comparison of percentages between left and right bloc is suddenly very telling. The graph below shows that the three opposition left-wing parties could at the moment form a government on their own, since the finer points of Slovene electoral mathematic allow for an absolute majority with around 30-40 percent of the vote, if the rest of the vote is fractured enough.

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Here the “cannibalisation effect” is very much obvious. The coalition parties (minus DeSUS, which is tehcnically a coalition party, but left-wing) can muster only slightly below 25% percent of the vote, which means that Janez Janša – the way things stand now – would have to co-opt both DeSUS (again) and Jelinčič’s nationalists, both in addition to his current rather alienated “natural” coalition partners – SLS and NSi. Both are recording depressingly low percentages and pengovsky is none too happy about that.

However, elections are still almost six months away and it would appear that we will witness at least one more referendum – this time on regions. More on that in one of the future posts (when more details become available), but at the moment it seems like a very nifty move by PM Janša – the government has ammended its proposal to include City of Ljubljana as a separate region and reduced the number of proposed regions (from 14 to 12), which makes the idea a whole lot more appealing to many people.

Pengovsky’s projection: As the left is trying not to fix what ain’t broken while it enjoys a comfortable lead over the right bloc, the government (and especially the PM) are looking for ways to spend the left bloc’s potentital by egaging it into relatively unimportant but nevertheless bloody political fights. The upcoming referendum (the date is yet to be announced) is primarily aimed at bolstering government’s ratings both by making the left loose energy over it and by giving the people another punch bag just before the elections on which they can vent their frustrations with the government. So, even Janša and the governmetn lose the referendum, they are much more likely to win the election (but not necesarily win the majority in the parliament). And if SDS comes out as the relative winner, you can be sure that Zmago Jelinčič and his nationalists will find themselves very close to the top levels of power – possibly getting a ministerial posting or two. Zmago Jelinčič as minister of interior? Did we really drop that low?

So Much For An Economic Boom

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SBI20 index tumbles

Item: In the last quarter of 2007 Slovenian GDP has risen a modest 4,7 compared to previous results and growth is expected to slow down

Item: Inflation in March 2008 reached 1.3 percent, yearly inflation is now at an astonishing 6.9 percent – the highest in eurozone

Item: Average net income in February 2008 was 864.50 EUR and more than 65% of Slovenes earnes less than that

Item: Slovenian Stock Exchange apparently entered a downward spiral with all the main indices (trading at more than double the return just two months ago) experiencing a negative return on capital on a yearly basis and losing over a billion euros in stock value in just a couple of months

Question: So, where exactly is the much hailed economic boom? Went out for a smoke?

Sources of statistical data: www.stat.si

Slovenski Tednik

Remember Sinfo? (click if no) This monthly magazine presents Slovenian government’s take on the matters to English speaking readers. Which is all fine and dandy except that most English-speaking readers (i.e.: ex-pats, foreign journalists and businesss people) don’t matter a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys, as they don’t have a vote in parliamentary elections.


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This week’s edition of Slovenski Tednik


And since Janša & Co. lost control of the largest Slovene newspaper and are faced with increasingly independent state media (a contradiction in terms, I know!), steps have been made to influence public opinion and nudge it in the right direction (right being the operative word here). Enter Slovenski Tednik (Slovenian Weekly), a weekly rag which is distributed for free in all but eleven Slovene municipalities (which just happen to be the eleven Slovene cities, where population tends to lean a bit more to the left side of political spectrum).

Now, the funny thing about this particular sorry excuse for a newspaper is its partisan style which would make even Fox News blush. Picking up the current issue, one can read the following titles: “Our Veto Not Excluded” saying that Janša’s government is threatening Croatia to veto its accession to the EU (not true). “Leftist Artiliery Agains The Government”, where it accuses the union leaders of being associated with the opposition (which they are), but it does not specify what sort of crime that should be. It just says that their Communist past shows through the type of songs they play at their rallies (they even play The Internationale, imagine!) and so on and so on.

Now, I’ve nothing against opinionated media. Quite au-contraire – I am ever more convinced that neutrality does not equal objectivity (the fact that this position presumes existance of an educated reader/listener/viewer is stuff of a whole new post). There is however a big difference between opinionated media producion which more or less gives both sides of the story and contextualises them on one hand and Voelkische-Beobacther-like rags and horns which hail our fearless leadership, which has all the answers.

And just to be totally fair, I must add that Slovenski Tednik is privately owned which in theory gives its ownership the freedom to print whatever content they see fit. The fact that the founder of the rag is closely connected to the rulling party is only an added bonus. On the other hand every Slovene municipality has its own Pravda, with a mayor’s “editorial” at the beginning and the rest of the paper extolling the virtues of a particular mayor and his team. Ljubljana magazine, aptly named “Ljubljana” is no exception to the rule. But these magazines are both presented and perceived as a sort of local versions of Sinfo. While Slovenski Tednik pretends to be a proper newspaper. We’ll see if the forces of market economy, so hailed by this government during its earlier stages will do the trick and send the paper to media-oblivion where it will join Republika, Slovenec and Jutranjik, dailies which in their own time tried to shape the public opinion, but instead the public shaped them into a roll and sent them flying to the nearest dust-bin.

Primary Colours (Slovenian Version)

This is what kept me from posting yesterday….

You, the faithful public of this puny blog, are more often than not exposed to names like Bojan Šrot, Katarina Kresal, Sašo Peče, Borut Pahor, Janez Janša and the rest of the gang of Slovene politicians. But who are? How do they look like really? How do they move, do they walk the walk and talk the talk? In short – how do you tell them apart?

Look no further – here is a quick guide to politicians who will most likely shape the ongoing election campaign and the final result. They are all local colour to the nth degree. They are the movers and the shakres. They are in the know. They are – in short – the Slovenian version of Primary Colours

Video: Vest.si, The Firm™, other

Music: Geburt Einer Nation (Laibach), Amerika (Rammstein), Sympathy For The Devil (The Charile Watts Quartet), Sikidim (Tarkan), Smooth Operator (Sade), Je T’aime (Jane Birkin, Serge Gainsbourg), Barbie Girl (Aqua), Private Dancer (Tina Turner), Greased Lightning (John Travolta), A Je To (Pat & Mat), Lilli Marlene (Marlene Dietrich), Don’t Cry For me Argentina (Andre Rieu)