(Who The Fuck Is) Joško Joras

joras.jpg
Joško Joras (source)

Last week I promised to write up Joško Joras. Now here we have a rather peculiar character (check this BBC story for background). Not unlike the Isralelis and the Palestinias, Joško Joras decided to inhabit a rather unwelcome piece of land, which just happens to be in a disputed border area between Slovenia and Croatia. Not unlike the Holy land, this particular piece of land too is located on a river bank. It’s just not the West Bank, and as a result doesn’t get all that much attention.

jorasland.jpg

Luck would have it that this particular fleck of land (shown above) is somewhat vital for Slovenian claims to unfethered exit to the international waters. Namely – in the good old days when Tito was still alive, when Cold war was rampant and when there were no silicon boobs – in those happy days noone bothered to divide the Adriatic Sea between Yugoslav republics.

But then all hell broke loose and when the dust settled, there was Joško Joras, a Maribor native (figures!) who settled in Primorska region, inhabiting a small piece of land on the north bank of the river Dragonja (which Slovenia claims to be the border line) and – at the same time- on the south bank of chanell of St. Odoric (an artificially made drainage system, which Croatia claims constitutes the borderline).

Now, I won’t go into who’s right and who’s wrong. But fact of the matter is that Joško Joras suddenly found himself at the centre of a very long border dispute in which he fancies himself as the first, last and only line of defence of the holy Slovene soil. As such he has become very useful to politicians this side of the border, who tend to stir up some pre-election shit every four years. Last year In 2004 SLS’s then presidnt Janez Podobnik (now minister of enviroment) went on an inflamatory trip to Jorasland only four days before elections, wanted to cross the border illegaly (i.e. not on the border crossing) and was consequently roughed up the Croatian police. This year, Joras (who, BTW, ran on SLS ticket in 2004 and suffered an epic defeat) is expected to host truckload of politicians in that unfinished house of his and as Slovenian politicians will make empty threats at taking the land even by force if necesary, Croatians (our new NATO allies) will go apeshit over Slovenes trampling on the holy Croatian soil.

And then, when the political menstrual period (where politicians bleed every ounce of voters’ blood) is over, everyone on both sides of the border will again start asking themselves – who the fuck is Joško?!

How Does Jelinčič Keep It Up?

Yesterday I promised to share with you – the unsuspecting public – some more thoughts on how Zmago Jelinčič can maintain a solid showing when parties with a far better structure can’t put together a decent act.

Some would claim something along the lines of mainstream politics being unable to find the answers to the challenges of an ever more globalised society and thus making room for single-issue or populist parties promising a quick fix and then go about citing examples of Jörg Haider in Austria and Jean Marie Le Pen in France. Which may even be true up to a point (more on “instant politics” in one of the future posts), but – as you no doubt know by now – in Slovenia, global trends are something only tangentially followed.

Zmago Jelinčič and his Slovene National Party are perhaps best described as a post-modern politician/party. Zmago in essence is the SNS and that’s the way a-ha, a-ha he likes it. In socialist times he was a known quantity to both the police (weapons trafficking) and regulars at Ljubljana ballet (where he was a member of the cast) and made himself more publicly known during the war of independence where he put on a show as a some sort of a vigilante:

Special forces my ass! Zmago may be an expert showman, but when he claimed to have singlehandedly captured a tank near Vrhnika, only to be discovered that he missed the thing at point-blank range using a rocket launcher, he was arrested by the police and spent the rest of the war in a prison cell 😀

But the episode launched him in the political arena for real and he immediatelly set forth a nationalist political platform, singling out neighbouring Croatia as Slovenia’s greatest enemy after the war of independence. He also has a curious melange of other political persuasions which don’t neceserily fit one another, but Zmago doesn’t seem to mind and niether does his electorate.

But to cut a long story short, Zmago was always deemed as an annoying little sleaze-bag, who just happened to be in the right place at the right time and though everyone wanted to get rid of him from the parliament, he just kept popping up again. His election results were accordingly minimal. However, as the right wing parties – in an attempt at getting all the votes they can – started venturing into the nationalist area (especially with relation to Croatia), they found themselves on Jelinčič’s turf and suddenly don’t know how to play the game anymore. They’re trying to promote a nationalist agenda without coming off as nationalist (a classic example of trying to fuck without sticking it in). Thus they are legitimising Jelinčič’s political platform, making him instantly more appealing to the general public. Furthermore, as the mainstream right-wing parties are trying to be “the civilised nationalists”, Jelinčič steps in with strong and decisive rhetoric and an occasional PR stunt (like painting afresh Slovene border stoned in a disputed border area).

So what we are seeing is that the coalition parties are trying to carve some room for themselves in the nationalist part of the voting body, but when those voters are finally nudged into stating their political prefference, they see Jelinčič – and not the “classic” political right wing – as their natural choice. Somewhere along the line comes DeSUS (the pensioner’s party) to cook up some more shit, but more on that in the next few days.

Cannibalism

So, time for foolilng around is over. Today we have a new Delo poll, showing that Janša’s SDS has almost caught up with opposition Social Democrats. Zares takes the third spot, while the winners of the week are Zmago Jelinčič and his Slovene National Party who took fourth place this time around. Here are the current standings:

20080402_ankica01.jpg

This time around I’d like us to have a look at what I like to call political cannibalism. I’ve already noted that we are most likely up for a highly polarised endgame, with the two major parties overshadowing the rest. But we’re months away from the election day and yet every party seems to have already spent the potential for organic growth. So all that the parties have left is stealing voters from one another. And while it may be possible to steal some votes from across the ideological divide, each party seems to be cannibalising every other party within its political bloc.

Take the political left: What we have there is a threesome between Pahor’s SD, Golobič’s Zares and Kresal’s LDS, and from the above graph it is obvious that electorate tends to migrate a bit between these parties. At the moment this trend is especially dangerous for the LDS as it is the weakest of the three. This fact is only amplified by both SD and Zares picking up any support they might have overlooked out there. SD struck a partneship with Christian Socialist Party (an insignificant little party that never made it to the parliament – it never even came close), whereas Zares only yesterday teamed up with Junijska lista, which – in political terms – ammount to little more than a whist club. You might call it forming a broad coalition, I call it fighting for leftovers and LDS isn’t invited apparently.

Basically the same thing is happening on the right side of the political spectrum, where the SDS is feeding of both SLS and NSi. Its just that there are no obscure poitical parties to form an alliance with. Besides – the PM likes to depend on his own devices.

But this in-fihgting on both sides is actually futile, as the following graph will demonstrate:

20080402_ankica04.jpg

Disregarding the Večer poll as a fluke (no data to corroborate that particular poll has emerged), we can see that the relative difference between the left bloc (SD, Zares, LDS) and the right bloc (SDS, SLS, NSi) remains more or less the same, suggesting that the semi-wildly fluctuactions in parties’ rankings can be attributted to voter transition from one party to another, rather than from one political bloc to the other. This early in the game, this is definitely not good as it can lead to “voter fatigue” as well as extremely low blows from both sides.

Political added value will be in high demand this season, it seems.

Still to come this week: How the parties started campaiging. What keeps Jelinčič in high single digits. And who the fuck is Joško Joras?!?