Flat Is The New Up

A day later than planned originally (the arrest of Radovan Karadžić is rather more important, no?), we can have a look at a new poll by Ninamedia, ran by POP TV on Sunday last. No big surpises, opposition Social democrats still hold a small lead that, with PM Janša’s SDS coming in close second, while Zares again takes the third spot, with Liberal Democrats and the nationalists around 5,5 percent.

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Results of all polls combined in a single chart

Since there are no dramatic developments in the polls, we can perhaps play with the numbers a bit. For starters, we cam have a a look at Ninamedia’s polls which were taken in the course of the last five months. It is immediately obvious that polls on 26 May and 10 July recorded a rather wide lead by Social democrats (SD) over Janša’s SDS. Mind you, it was not that SD became hugely popular at those particular moments. Spikes in the “don’t know” column tell us that it was rather Janša’s electorate that was undecided on him at that particular time. This again leads us to coclude that PM Janša is fighting very hard to stay above water and keep Borut Pahor witihn range. For Janez Janša, flat is the new up

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Seven Ninamedia polls taken in the last five months

Moving on. Since 4 February we’ve seen twenty-three polls, which pengovsky faithfuly reproduced for your viewing pleasure. What happens if we calculate the average of all results to date? Let’s take a look: Pahor’s Social democrats still remain in the vicinity of 20 %, while SDS lingers around 18 %. But this includes the undecided vote as well. Things get a lot more interesting if we recalculate the average using only pledged votes. With this we also get a better picture of which party will make it across the 4% treshold:

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Average poll results, discarding the undecided vote

Both “big” parties are still close, but differences are greater than before. If we sum up the results of possible coalitions, things get even more interesting: a coalition of SD, Zares and LDS would beat a very broad coalition of SDS, SLS, NSi, SNS and DeSUS by 0.9 percent (32.0% vs. 31.9%). If, however, a more likely coalition of SD, Zares, LDS and DeSUS were created, it would enjoy a healthy 7% lead over the rest of the parties (35.2% vs. 27.9%).

Either way, PM Janez Janša has his work cut out for him. But in his fight to stay afloat he is continously increasing the stakes. Tommorow we’ll see that he picked on former president Milan Kučan again.

Pengovsky’s projection: Things are far from over, but PM Janša will be looking for “september surprise” to make the necesary breakthrough in polls. This might mean marrying Doc Urška, arresting Zoran Janković and/or Boško Šrot or giving some additional concession to one demograhic group or the other. Or any possible combination of the aforementioned. It is becoming increasling apparent that the winner of the elections will go to any lenghts to secure a majority in the parliament and in this respect PM Janša is positioned far worse than the left bloc. Members of the latter (Zares, SD and LDS), however are afraid one of them will jump ship and join Janša in a broad coalition. That’s why rumours are spread from time to time that one the parties is mulling forming a coalition with Janša. Just as SD and Zares before it, LDS is the latest victim of these rumours. The goal, naturally, is to have LDS leadership say in the clearest possible terms that they will not band together with JJ.

Elections 2008 Badge: Reflects the latest poll results.

Data: If anyone feels like tinkering with the data, here is the complete MS Excel file.

Radovan Karadžić Arrested. Finally!

This just in: According to various news reports, Radovan Karadžić, one of Europe’s most wanted men, directly responsible for genocide of Bosnian Muslims in Bosnia-Hercegovina during the 1993-95 war was arrested in Serbia hours ago.

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Bosnian Serb general Ratko Mladic and their political leader Radovan Karadžić (source)

The arrest was confirmed by the office of the President of Serbia Boris Tadić, without giving details. I imagine this is a high-risk game for Serbian leadership as Karadžić and general Ratko Mladić (who remains at large) have quite a following in Serbia and Republic of Srbska in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Hopefuly Serbian President Boris Tadić will fare better than the late Zoran Djindjić.

Perhaprs, just perhaps, the wars of Yugoslavia will finally be brought to an end.

EDIT: Reactions from: Belgrade 2.0 (Serbia), Zapisi (Serbia – in cyrilic), Duh koji hoda (Bosnia), Na putu u nepoznato (Bosnia), Comments From Left Field (USA) (JBlog Central (Israel)

Cashing In On The Wrath Of Nature

A series of severe storms struck parts of Slovenia on Sunday, causing extensive damage to housing, crops and forests. It was the latest in a series of severe weather events which have – among other things – collapsed a scaffold in downtown Ljubljana the other day. In short: it’s fun, but don’t bring an umbrella. You might end up like Dorothy.

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photo: BOBO (source)

However, the real fun begins just now, when damage is being assessed all over the country. I’ve had some meagre experience covering this for various media houses and I can tell you that farmers immediately start exaggerating the numbers. The last time I was covering a natural catastrophe of similiar proportions, the numbers went from a fifty million tolars to a hundred billion in a matter of hours, which at that point meant some 12% of the country’s budget.

Today, we are observing a similar phenomenon: while the damage reports are still being compiled, numbers are increasing exponentially. In a single TV piece combined claims of up to 50 milion euros were made. I realize there was indeed some extensive damage and that people’s lives were shattered, but what I’m bothered by is the fact that everyone is paying attention to the damage in the woods and fields while almost nothing is being said about families whose houses have lost roofs and even suffered structural damage.

But they are probably insured, which cannot be said about farmers and their produce. As farmers are a special breed in Slovenia and enjoy protection not unlike their French counterparts, they expect the state to bail them out yet again. And so they beef up their damage reports, already feeling the fibre of the fabric of a fistful of euros.

And so we will see the usual Peasant Gambit: In the spring it’s usually frost. Damages are repaid. In the summer, storms and hail. Damages are repaid again. In autumn, floods. Guess what happens. And then, as the year’s end approaches, farmers are clammoring about what a quality product they have this year and that the market is being infested by low-cost produce from Albania, Macedonia, Spain and Greece and that they cannot compete with such low prices. And so the state bails them out again, buying their product off them for an above-market price. Just to keep them happy.

Hell, I’m in the wrong business…

Is The Tide Turning?

We’ve had two new polls in the last week here, each of them showing a radically different performance by the two top-tier parties. On 10 July we’ve had a Nimamedia poll (commissioned my Mladina weekly), which more or less echoed results of most previous polls by different pollsters (i.e.: Social democrats take the top spot, Janša’s SDS comes in second, while LDS, Zares and occasionaly the nationalists battle it out for bronze).

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However, only a day later a poll a government-commissioned poll done by Parsifal Group showed a radically different result – SDS taking the top spot with 20,4 percent of the decided vote and SD coming in second with a “mere” 13,2 percent. Somewhat indicatively, though, both polls are surprisingly similar in recording the vote of the smaller parties. Call me paranoid, but I smell a rat :mrgreen:

Anyways, neglecting the fact that we are dealing with a poll made and paid for by the government, two things become almost immediately visible:

One: even a government poll projects that a totally left-wing coalition (SD, LDS, Zares, DeSUS) will get as much votes (27%) as a totally right-wing coalition (SDS, SLS, NSi, SNS – 27,3). If we add Lipa and its 0,8 percent of the vore to the left-wing bloc, just for argument’s sake (I’m not saying they are left-wing), then the left bloc prevails again.

Two: According to government’s own poll, repeating the election result of 2004 (i.e.: forming a winning coalition) can only be possible with Zmago Jelinčič’s nationalists onboard. Then and only then can the existing coalition (SDS, NSi, SLS, DeSUS) with the addition of SNS form a rather comfortable if uneasy majority.

All of the above, however, must be taken cum grano salis. Polls commisioned by the government have a tendency to skew reality much beyond the acceptable and one could safely venture to say that the reality is much grimmer for the government of Janez Janša

Pengovsky’s projection: Despite the short relief the lates poll might provide to for the right bloc, it should actually sound general quarters, red alert, defcon 1 and whatever states of emergency there are. Namely, if your own pollsters can’t plausibly put you well ahead in the polls, then nothing will. So we will quite possibly see the Prime Minister venture more and more into the nationalistic and overly-populistic field of rhetoric, trying to chip off SNS as many votes as possible. However, one extremely undesired sideefect is Zmago Jelinčič thus becoming ever more acceptable for the centrist vote. Should Janša decide to go down that road and co-opt Jelinčič and his voters, he will pay dearly in a future not very far. But the main question remains: is the tide turning? Not for now. When other polls corroborate results of Pasifal, then we can start talking….

Elections 2008 Badge: Will be updaed during the day. The right bloc takes 56 percent of the vote this time around.

Poll data: If anyone feels like it, here is an MS Excel file complete with all the polling data and charts. It includes almost every published poll from February ’08 until present.

A Pint Of Tycoon

Whatever you may think of Boško Šrot, CEO and the not-so-newly minted owner of Laško Brewery, one has to admit that the guy (or – more broadly speaking – people at Laško) managed to retain a sense of humour in spite of PM Janša breathing down his neck. During last weekend’s Pivo in Cvetje (Beer and Flowers) festivites held in the town of Laško for the 44th year running, the brewery cococted a special, Tycoon beer.

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The leaflet reads: How to catch a tycoon: 1. Stir it up with your money. 2. Lure it out by pulling the handle. 3. Catch it in your glass.

Very tongue-in-cheek, although I wasn’t there so I can’t really tell you wheter Tycoon Beer is either a buffed-up or watered-down version of Laško beer. We’ll see if good spirits remain with Boško Šrot come September, though…

BTW: more polls coming your way tomorrow