As the Queen leaves Slovenia (in case you missed it, I did post a video of her visit to Prešeren square), coalition builiding takes the stage front and centre once again.
The two amigos (source)
According to various reports the text of coalition agreement is more or less agreed upon. Social Democrats, Liberal Democrats and Zares hit it off quite well and have settled their policy differences some days ago. And while the three parties have – publicly at least – postponed the question of who exactly will get which portfolio, Karl Erjavec of DeSUS stirred the pot quite a bit when he flat out demanded the position of defence minister (which he holds in in the outgoing government of Janez Janša as well).
However, in an unexpected show of cojones Borut Pahor categorically rejected his demand, bringing their meeting to an end after mere five minutes. Apparently, it went something like this
Pahor: “Welcome, Karl! Look, you can pick any portfoilo save defence.”
Erjavec: “No. I want to continue as minister of defence!”
Pahor: “No go.”
Erjavec: “OK, bye!”
How’s that for brevity of coalition negotaions, huh? 😀
After Bojan Šrot‘s SLS opted out of any potential coalition deals with The Trio, Erjavec (correctly) calculated that he is the only really viable option for Pahor to form a working coalition. However, he terribly overestimated his bargaining position. Keeping Erjavec as defence minister would heavily damage Pahor’s crediblity, as much of left bloc’s campaing was built on the Patria Affair and calls for Erjavec to step down as minister of defence. Furthermore, rumours have it that Pahor engaged in some underground diplomacy and found out that SLS could be persuaded to start negotiating were Janez Podobnik to keep his job as minister of enviroment.
If correct, this information was the carbon in Pahor’s balls of steel when he nixed Karl Erjavec. But it was still a big gamble. SLS could go either way, leaving Pahor out in the cold with his pants down. But the bulj of the work was done by DeSUS’s MPs, who went apeshit when Erjavec walked out of the meeting with Pahor. Since they are the seven votes Erjavec is bargaining with, they raised their voice and after a weekend of arm twisting Erjavec caved in. Officially, he was applauded for taking a tough line against Pahor, raising the ante, but there was a lot of barely veiled criticsm by MPs – of which only two are actually party members. Which was something Erjavec has to consider when he tries to impose party discipline.
In any case, if all the junior coalition parties (Zares, DeSUS and LDS) confim the text of the coalition agreement, then the policies of the new government are set. And Pahor is off to do some heavy-duty human resource managing…