The new parliament begun its work yesterday, electing its president (Pavel Gantar) and three vice-presidents (Miran Potrč of SD, Vasja Klavora of DeSUS and France Cukjati of now-oppostition SDS), meaning that the legislative brach in now fully empowered – if not yet fully functional. MPs still have to vote on members and leadership of various bodies and committees.
Vasja Klavora, Miran Potrč, Pavel Gantar and France Cukjati (source)
With new parliament conveened, the government of Janez Janša is now functioning in caretaker capacity only. Broady speaking, this means that it cannot (including but not limited to) propose legislation, nominate and/or appoint civil servants or engage in foreign policy initiatives. And – perhaps somewhat suprisingly – this is the field where the PM apparent Borut Pahor will have his hands full trying to find a viable compromise.
For starters – rumours of Dimitrij Rupel aiming to become ambassador to Austria have now been confirmed, as the outgoing government nominated Rupel for that particular post on Tuesday (less than 24 hours before assuming its caretaker role). The nomination received mixed reactions. Leader of Zares Gregor Golobič and his coutnerpart in LDS Katarina Kresal reacted negatively, while Borut Pahor did not take issue with the nomination, saying that – if anyone – than a foreign minister is equipped to be an ambassador.
Perhaps. But this might again be an example of Pahor over-eagerly trying to avoid a public confrontation, although Slovenia has been without its top representative in Vienna since April, when Ambassador Ernest Petrič was sworn in as a Judge of the Constitutional Court. A lot of eyebrows were raised as the Foreing Ministry failed to produce a candidate for the job, but now it is clear (as many have speculated) that Rupel way eyeing the job and kept the post to himself. Which is fucking poor taste and yet another example of the outgoing government treating the state and its institutions as its own property. By not opposing Rupel’s departure to Vienna, Borut Pahor is quite possibly trying to be “generous in victory” and prevent any kind of gloating, but he just may be taking it too far. Namely – Slovene minority’s rights in Austria (specifically, in Haiderland) are still being trampled and one cannot afford to name an ambassador to Vienna, just because this particular person is infatuated with Ursula Plassnik. Not to mention the fact that where Rupel walks grass don’t grow again. Hopefully The Prez will exert his powers fully and will not sign Rupel’s nomination. Just to make a point.
However, with Rupel out of the picture one way or the other, an interesting question of succession ensued. Many have eyed this prestigious post, but Borut Pahor is apparently looking at it from many points of view simultaneously:
First, there is his statement that the coalition negotiations will have ended by Sunday evening. Including ministerial nominations. That puts a time frame on the decision making process as well as limiting new PM’s options. Secondly , despite promises of “experience before party membership card” in the nomination process, Borut Pahor have to find at least three ministerial posts (out of presumed seventeen) to be filled by leaders of the coalition parties. And thirdly – unlike Janša, who had zero foreign policy experience and considered it Rupel’s turf, leaving the latter alone to stir shit up – Borut Pahor is likely to keep a close eye on foreign policy.
So, who will succeed Dimitrij Rupel? Rumours have it that Katarina Kresal is eyeing the job. If she were to be given the portfolio, she and her party just might be satisfied enough to swallow Karel Erjavec’s DeSUS getting a portfolio more than LDS. But Katarina Kresal as Foreign Minster is an extremely bad idea. I mean, she might be able to charm the so-called diplomatic parquet, but really… Being sexy and intelligent is not enough. Foreign minister should be a seasoned politician with ample experience both at home and abroad. He or she should be intimately familiar with the history of nation’s foreign policy, decision-making process in the EU and UN, should know the details of bilateral issues this country has with countries around the world and should know (i.e.: have a ready-to-implement plan) what he or she wants to achieve as a foreign minister.
Katarina Kresal simply does not fit the description. If nothing else, she lack the mileage. In my opinion she would fare much better as Minister of Internal Affairs, not in the least because she would directly oversee all the human-rights issues that have plagued the outgoing government (and governments before it), most notably “The Erased” and the Roma issues. Alternatively, she could be named Minister of Justice and work on reducing court delays, another notorious human rights issue this country has. In any case, since LDS is big on human rights (that is not to say other parties of coalition aren’t, but LDS made it one of focal points of its campaign) I’m convinced Katarina Kresal should be given one of these portfolios.
Gregor Golobič has other problems. He was my personal favourite for the post of President of Parliament, but as we saw that was not to be. Golobič even said that those particulr shoes are just too big for him, since he was last an MP 16 years ago. Apparently he was considered as an FM several times in the past few weeks. Does he fit the description above? Yes and no. He does have plenty of experience at home, even if he was working in the background until he emerged as leader of Zares. His foreign policy experience is scarse (although it is possible that I don’t have all the relevant information), but having worked with Janez Drnovšek, I’m sure Golobič picked up a trick or two. However, he does not strike me as someone who would unnecesarily mince words and enjoy the watered-down positions of the EU just because Poland had a problem with a EU policy (a hypothtical example. of course). Furthermore, since Pahor is likely to keep his fingers in the foreign policy cookie jar, I kind of doubt it that Golobič whould have any of it.
Golobič with his experience in working behind the scenes and academic and professional background (he majored in philosophy and is/was closely connected to a hyper-high-tech firm Ultra) is somewhat off the scale of Slovene politics. Now that leading the parliament is off the table, Golobič should be perhaps tasked with combining the academic, economic and R&D resources this country has. This would also give him a lot of manouvering space politically, as this portfolio would have breath, but not so much depth. This portfolio is not to be mistaken for what was known as Ministry of Reforms, which coordinated finance, economy and social portfolios, a task which will apparenty fall on the shoulders of former Governor of Central Bank, Mitja Gaspari.
So – who should be the next foreign minister? For what is worth, I’d very much like to see Ivo Vajgl take the post. He has the diplomatic experience, serving on various diplomatic posts and has already served as FM for a couple of months in 2004 when then-PM Tone Rop dismissed Dimitrij Rupel, but then lost the elections. During those three months Vajgl presented a wonderful concept of cultural foreign policy, as in actively promoting Slovenia and its foreign policy priorities through its rich cultural exchange. When the renowned conductor Carlos Kleiber died and was burried in Slovenia next to his late wife, a beautiful cultural hommagge was paid, with Ricardo Mutti of Milan Scala conducting Slovene Philharmonics in his honour. However, there was little or no foreign policy support or follow-up, and Vajgl wanted to change that approach. Hopefully, he will be given his true chance now.
But hey – it’s not me who is trying to form a government 😉