Having The Cake And Eating It

Now that the final results of the elections are known and Janez Janša finally sort of conceded, the time has come for Borut Pahor to go about forming a coalition. All eyes are on DeSUS at the moment and bets are being made as to what concession exactly will Karl Erjavec get from the presumptive new PM, with the former already making noises that he expects to get a greater infulence than the smallest coalition party. Katarina Kresal of LDS went apeshit in responce, saynig that members of The Trio (SD, Zares, LDS) should be given prefferential treatment, because DeSUS is a member of Janša’s existing coalition.

Katarina Kresal and Karl Erjavec (source and source respectively)

Kresal’s comment drew a lot of criticism, not in the least by St. Luka, who published an op-ed on Vest.si yesterday (unfortunately Slovene only). It’s gist is that Katarina Kresal and LDS should not receive prefferential treatment, because it was the voters who gave votes to whichever party they saw fit and that the mere fact that The Trio existed does not make its members any more entitled to ministerial posts than any other member of the coalition.

Pengovsky (who ran an op-ed in a Sunday paper, by the way. Luckily, Slovene only) begs to differ. Namely. To a cetain point KK’s statements have merit. It would be ineed somewhat foolsih if Borut Pahor didn’t recoginse the interdependency of The Trio. SD, Zares and LDS need each other. Although the left is not exactly known for the ability to stick together, the fact is that any of the three parties would be very much alone, cold and scared without the other two. They were in it together almost from the very begining (insofar as we can define a speicific point of their begining) and if DeSUS missed the party, then – well – tough luck.

On the other hand, one can understand St. Luka and – by extention – Karl Erjavec (although I assume St. Luka did not intend to defend Teflon Karl). They recevied an unprecedented amount of votes, they are the fourh largest parilamentary group and do not intend to play the part of the fifth wheel. They want to cash in on the votes they got and are acutely aware of their position. However, this is not a game of chess (not yet, anyway), but rather a case of feeding the political masses with two loafs of bread. But unlike Jesus of Nazareth, Borut Pahor does not have enough to go around and will have to dissappoint a lot of people as it is.

So the 64.000 euro question is, whether Pahor should reward Erjavec and DeSUS for being late for the party or pussyfoot around them, given the party’s importance in securing a majority in the parliament.

I think Pahor’s priority should be in forming a more or less stable core of the coalition. DeSUS will probably assume the role of an attention whore from the start, which might ultimately lead to its premature departure from the coalition. Keeping the other two coalition partners happy will go a long way in a scenario like this.

Furthermore: although Katarina Kresal is still a bit rough around the edges and does tend to talk a lot even when she should listen, she seems to be a fast learner and will very likely know the game inside out within a year. And since her party is a member of the victorious Trio, she can and should receive a status that is more than just a reflection of the vote. Without DeSUS there is no coalition (well, at the very least it becomes harder to form one). But without LDS there is no Trio. So if Borut Pahor wants to position himself as a leader of the left bloc, he better keep LDS and Katarina Kresal happy.

Obviously the same applies in case of Gregor Golobič and Zares, but somehting tells me that GG will be able to hold his own against Pahor. But just to make sure that Slovenia avoids four more years of a top-down approach in politics, where all leaders of coalition parties were also ministers, enabling the PM to boss them around, the president of the Parliament should be a member of one of the junior coalition parties, possibly its president. This would also restore the balance of power in Slovenia, which was tilted heavily in favour of the executive branch in the last four years, reducing the parliament to rubber-stamp duties.

But can Borut Pahor have the cake and eat it? Surprisingly, I think yes. Namely. He will probably have to split 14 ministerial posts and 14 state secreatries (second only to ministers) among coalition parties, where (for argument’s sake) a state secretary is “worth” half a ministerial posts. SD has 29 deputies, Zares has 9, DeSUS 7 and LDS 5, equaling 50 votes in the parliament. And to keep LDS happy, the presumptive PM might think along the lines of giving LDS and DeSUS the same number of ministers and state secretaries, making a slight dent in DeSUS stature (but not much), perhaps offsetting that by giving them one really important ministry. But not the ministry of defence. Even Karl knows better by now :mrgreen:

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

21 thoughts on “Having The Cake And Eating It”

  1. You position is very strange. Not that I am defending the old farts at DESUS, but come on! They have won more votes and that’s all that matters. The Trio can get a good dose of Hot Karl if they do not recognize the will of the voters. To my knowledge, there was no formal coalition agreement signed where the number of ministry positions would be fixed. It is very bad taste to try to put down the party you are trying to form a government with in such a manner.

    I do hope that they try to run the government with 45 votes + 2 minority candidates. I would prefer the DESUS retirees out of the government. A leftist government with an uneasy majority would be alright. With what is happening in the financial markets right now, we would probably see another election in two years (brought by the pulled-out-of-my-ass-analysis department).

  2. Acutally, even if there were a formal coalition agreement, it wouldn’t matter a pair of fetid dingo’s kindeys, because it would have to be readjusted to make room for another coalition party.

    But what I’m trying to say is that since the Trio did form a more or less unified bloc against the incumbent government, this should be refleced in their positions within the new government.

    As far as putting down the future coalition partner is concerned: yes, to an extent. But since Teflon Karl was making odd noises about keeping the post of minister of defence, he does need a slight reality check.

    So does KK, I’m sure, but her demands might be making a bit more sense at this point. And in the end Pahor might be considering inviting SLS to the coalition as well, just to dillute the passions a bit.

  3. @crni: SD+Zares+LDS=29+9+5=43 + 2 minority seats= 45 and IS NOT MAJORITY!
    The trio simply needs at least one party or some MP’s (Franc Žnidaršič…?)who will join the club!

  4. I understand your criticism, but my argument was not so much about what number of ministerial seats would be fair for DeSUS, but about the apparently self-evident privileges LDS should enjoy, based on an arrogant argument that they “decided” do chgange the governement. Again, “The Trio” among themselves has 43 seats, which in simpler terms means “not enough”. They shouldn’t punish, but rather kindly ask the ousiders to join them, nespa?

  5. @Davor: I don’t think Pahor can afford to form a minimal-majority government, much less acheving that by alienating a party which broadly speaking shares the trio’s views on social issues.

  6. @Luka: No. Simple as that. As I said, I think LDS, and Zares, should it come to that, should enjoy privileges (for the lack of a better word) in forming a new government, especially vis-a-vis DeSUS, which – mind you – was asked to join the Trio before the elections, but refused. And for that Karl should pay a price.

    We will see enough unnecessaey pussyfooting from Pahor in the coming years, no need to start now.

    As for KK’s arrogance: Yes, she lacks mileage and the subtleties of political lingo are often lost on her. But in the end, the obvious-though-not-oft-stated aim of the Trio was to replace the government of Janez Janša. Naturally, the voters had the final say in it, but the determination to win can play a crucial role.

    Again. KK probably came off as an arrogant bitch (kind of a turn-on, no? ;)), but I’d venture to say, that she only said out loud what the other two were thinking. And naturally, she feels threatened by DeSUS, because Karl took a pot shot specifically at her.

  7. Ok, I said I don’t really disagree with you, but again, to refrase my point. What if Karl says “no, thank you” and SLS says “hmmm, no.” What then? How many ministerial seats will The Trio have then, huh? They NEED DeSUS or SLS. Simple as that.

  8. To offer another quote from The Hunt For The Red October (I doubt anyone cliked on the first one in the post anyway :)): “The hard part about playing chicken is knowing when to flinch”

    Yes, Borut Pahor stands a lot to loose. But so does Karl Erjavec. If he remains in the opposition, he is toast. Ditto for SLS. Besides, Pahor already said that he will not form a coalition at any price. Whether or not he will keep his word remains to be seen, but I’m sure there’s a part of him that just itches to pull the plug and leae it all behind.

  9. What can we learn from the Jansa government?
    There was Desus and KE as minister and there was Franc Ž. as MP. KE as member of government agreed to some proposal but Desus MP’s had their own opinion on that. Franc Ž. for me is a very wise man (what I can not say about KE) and born 1940 he in fact is independent and so are some other MP’s from Desus. I would rather to go directly to them than to KE, they are the man in position that the trio in fact need’s!

  10. Well, Franc Žnidaršič is getting his way as it is. He said that he would not support a coalition with Janša, limiting Erjavec’s options instantly. Besided, Žnidaršič is only one vote, while Erjavec can deliver seven.

  11. If they join the Trio, then yes. Most of the time, anyway. And even if there is an occasional dissent, there is the “cussion” of four votes, giving ample room for Erjavec’s token shows of standing up to Borut Pahor.

  12. Do you remember Drnovšek, do you remember Pucko?
    What is easier: to have a troublemaker (in person of KE) as coalition partner, or to find some new Puckos?

  13. I do remember. I also remember that LDS went after Pucko only after every other option proved impossible (including a coalition with SNS). I also remember that Drnovšek and LDS paid a high price for that one vote, bith politically and in public opinon.

    While Pucko and his family paid an even higher price.

    It is not something to be wished for.

  14. I don’t agree.
    Puck made it from right SKD to left LDS.
    Desus is left to left, a lot easier.
    How many governments formed Drnovšek after 1996 when Pucko happened, did he become even a President of RS?
    What is with Polona Dobrajc, the other Pucko? She become MP in this elections.
    You will probably see, that I really really don’t want the twoface Karl in the government! For me is any power he has, worst case scenario for Slovenia’s future! With this I rest my case! 🙂

  15. Well, Pucko never made it to the parliament again. And Drnovšek only got Pucko’s vote after months of wrangling, and even then only to confirm Drnovšek as PM, while Drnovšek formed a government with SLS a week later, creating one of the most turbulent terms to date, which – as we know – ended with SLS toppling Drnovšek’s government and briefly installing Andrej Bajuk as the PM.

    Again – Drnovšek didn’t choose Pucko as a first option, circumstances forced him to do it.

    A lot of things will change in four years and why should Pahor’s government be depending on just one vote? In Pahor makes the mistake of forming a minimum-majority coalition, then he becomes much more vunerable to any demands Zares and LDS make in the future.

    And believe me, neither Golobič nor Kresal will just sit idly and watch the world go by as Pahor runs the country. They will – rather – actively pursue their political goals, which will not always be compatible with Pahor’s agenda. So they all need all the votes they can get.

  16. 1. Ciril Pucko was elected MP between 2000 and 2004.
    2. Drnovšek didn’t choose him – the opposite was the case. (btw: Pucko simply foresaw the destiny of Peterle’s Christian Democrats and Bajuk’s NSi – designed by J.)
    3. “Drnovšek and LDS paid a high price for that one vote, both politically and in public opinon.” Not true. In terms of cost-benefit (for the country, needless to say) the cost was more than reasonable.
    4. Disclaimer – this has nothing to do with DESUS or their MP’s.

    Mrs. Dobrajc did not make it this year.

  17. @Gregor:

    1.) I stand corrected on the first count 😳 My bad.

    2.) One could argue that it is a matter of interpretation. Regardless of Ciril Pucko’s motives, it takes two to tango.

    If memory serves Drnovšek went to great pains to form a viable coalition, and Pucko made his move quite late in the game, when there were no other options left (if you’ll forgive the unintended pun).

    3.) The cost may well have been acceptable, but it was still high. Slovenian political lingo got a new term: “puckism” for “defecting across ideological lines”, the opposition willified Drovšek, especially after that elusive 46th vote went missing again when the vote on his cabinet was held, prompting Drnovšek to form a coalition with SLS which suddenly saw the need to be all stateworthy and all.

    It turned out to be politicaly the most difficult term Drnovšek ever served, with SLS toppling his government in April 2000, followed by a brief right-wing government and what I still believe to be an attemted coup d’etat by that particular government (headed by Andrej Bajuk but run by Janez Janša)

    And that was a government with substantial “political capital”, with Janez Drnovšek as a proven leader, who at that time ran the government for the past six years.

    The new PM-apparent does not enjoy this luxury and he would do wisely not to undermine his tenure and indeed entire coalition by cutting Pucko-like corners

    4.) I wouldn’t dream of it 😉

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