As noted yesterday, a new political party was formed in Maribor a couple of days ago. Well… Technically speaking, an already existing party named Kresnica (literally: Glow-worm… go figure) was renamed into Christian Democratic Party. Generally speaking, the renamed party will promote “classical” conservative values, the sort one would excpect from a party of christian democratic profile. There is only one caveat. Well, a couple, actually…
Marko Štrovs while he was still being listened to (source)
WHAT’S GOING ON…
Although the “CD” part of Slovenian political spectrum seems to be empty, this is hardly the case. Both Slovene People’s Party (SLS) and Nova Slovenija (NSi) tap that particular pool of votes, both because they share similar values, but also because their history is much more intertwined than their names suggest. When the media started using the term “Slovene Christian Democrats” for the new party, SLS was slightly iritated and said only it (SLS) can legaly use this term and the SKD acronym (see below for explanation). But if SLS was iritated, NSi went outright apeshit. Understandibly so:
Just as NSi was formed by a renegade group of SLS+SKD, the new party is spear-headed by its former members and sympatisers, most notably Marko Štrovs one of Slovenia’s foremost experts on pensions systems, who until recently was a high-ranking NSi party member. Months ago, however, he made a rather serious cock-up when he said that the pensioners in Slovenia are so well off that they should only be afraid of kicking the bucket. There was an uproar, but the party didn’t lift a finger to protect him and fed him to the media. They gave him a desk job withing the party, where he once again caught media attention by saying that NSi in being sliced like a salami by Janez Janša and his SDS – he was reffering to NSi’s slow but relentless trend of hemmoraging votes. NSi leadership reacted swiftly, accusing him of panic-mongering and cut him out of the loop entirely. Štrovs hit back where it hurt NSi most: he did extacly what they did eight years ago, and for more or less the same reasons.
…CUT TO HISTORY LESSON…
When multi-party elections were held for the first time in Slovenia in 1990, suprisingly enough, it was the Slovene Christian Democrats (SKD) who got the most votes within the opposition bloc DeMOS and not any of the parties which were at the forefront of the democratic drive (funnily, the reformed communists got the largest number of votes on a per-party level, but most of the oppostition was joined in a political alliance DeMOS and they formed the first democratically elected government, with then-little-known Lojze Peterle as the PM).
Anyways, things went dowhill from there for Christian Democrats as Janez Drnovšek toppled Lojze Peterle in spring 1992 in a vote of no-confidence and the SKD went into coalition with LDS from time to time until Drnovšek himself was toppled by SLS in spring 2000. But not before a merger between SKD and SLS, briefly making the merged party the most powerful political force in Slovenia, toppling Janez Drnovšek as the PM and replacing him with Andrej Bajuk only weeks after the merger. Only months later, however, several high-profile members of SKD part of the new party left the party citing irreconcilable differences and formed NSi, Nova Slovenija only months prior to elections and – contrary to expectations – made it past the parliamentary treshold comfortably.
…AND WE’RE BACK. BUT WHO’S GOT THEIR BACK?
So Marko Štrovs and Jože Duhovnik (another former high-profile SKD member) did what he, Andrej Bajuk, Lojze Peterle and a whole lot of other people did in 2000. Unlike SLS which is going about its own wobbly path, the leadership of NSi is genuinely shocked, one could even say frightened. They’ve started a smear-campaign against Štrovs, and just yesterday released a statement saying that 80 percent of new party’s platfrom is copy/pasted from NSi’s platform and that it had only just emerged that Marko Štrovs was a member of the communist party in the previous regime.
Now, membership in the Party used to be magnum crimen for most right-wing parties at various points in their history, but NSi stuck to this stipulation (Janša’s SDS, for example never had it, as Janša himself was a zealous Party member – so zealous in fact that the Party threw him out. SDS rather screened their membership against working for Yugoslav intelligence services). Personally, I couldn’t care a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys is Štrovs belonged to the Party or not, but the nature of NSi’s press release (using hearsay and denunciations: “we’ve been alerted to his Party membership by one of his former co-workers” as well as explaininig their own reactions: “we have not reacted nervously, we merely wanted to point out several inconsitencies and manipulations“) suggests that Štrovs is on to something.
Now, pengovsky happens to know that membership of NSi is not exactly thrilled with the current leadership, but after a long power-struggle between Lojze Peterle and Andrej Baujk two years ago local divisions raised their voice and said that enough is enough and that – although far from perfect – Bajuk should remain party president and that a new leadership will be chosen after elections. Even more, Bajuk privately admitted that he’s fed up with the job and that he will not seek re-election.
So, the question everyone is asking, why did Štrovs and Duhovnik do it? Are they just disenchanted or are there far more sinister forces at work? Given all of the above, I would bet on the fact that they smell blood and want revenge. But if what they say is true and they don’t have a larger political and/or financial backing, they are either very naive or outright lying. There is no way they can make it into the parliament on 21 September without some firm financial and political backing, because:
a) unlike NSi in 2000 they’ve got no sitting MPs which would by law by them airtime on national radio and television
b) the polarisation of the political arena is reaching gigantic proportions this time around and there will be little room available for the little guys. They may not like to hear it, but that’s the way things are at the moment.
But since NSi is considered to be one of the little guys, it is entirelly possible that Štrovs’s KDS will chip away just enough votes to keep NSi below the 4 percent parliamentary threshold. Some say that this is precisely Štrovs’s aim and that it is the political left, especialy former President Milan Kučan who is behind the project (in a more fervent right-wing mind this fits perfectly with accusations of Štrovs’s Party membership). However, one should ask oneself who really benefits if NSi doesn’t make it into the parliament. And the answer is: Janez Janša and his SDS.
Namely: Slovenian electoral system preffers bigger parties – meaning that the votes cast for parties which did not make it part the threshold are distributed between all the other parties by applying some heavy mathemathics, where larger parties get more of the undistributed vote than the smaller parties (I’m still mustering enough will to wite the monster of a post on electoral system). But whether Štrovs is doing to his former party what he acussed Janša of doing remains to be seen. If KDS will run a high-profile campaign, it will be obvious that there are powerful forces at work, trying to reshuffle the cards at that end of the political spectrum.