Only hours after pengovsky posted on the new PM-designate, leaders of the Quartet finally put specific names to specific portfolios, thus enabling Borut Pahor to propose his cabined. Here is a quick rundown of the candidates, based on my meagre information about them.
Five out of eighteen. More will follow
Prime minister: Borut Pahor (but you knew that)
Minister of foreign affairs: Samuel Žbogar. A very skillful diplomat, perhaps lacking in colour a bit. Apparently more of a technocrat. Will make a nice change after the omnipresent Dimitrij Rupel, but Žbogar’s nomination shows that Pahor intends to bask in the limelight of foreign policy and need Žbogar as someone who runs the show but doesn’t take all the credit.
Minister of internal affairs: Katarina Kresal. As predicted, president of LDS got the internal portfolio, which seems right up her alley. She’s a lawyer (albeit a corporate one) and her party specifically emphasised human righst abuses during the campaing – most notably rulings of the consitutional court which have yet to be enacted. The most infamous of these rulings is the decision to restore The Erased to their former status. Katarina Kresal (the first ever female minister of internal affairs) will now get her chance to make good on her promises. Besides, her portofilo covers police forces as well. I can already picture her in a uniform. Ahhhh….
Defence minister: Ljubica Jelušič. A defence expert and a professor on Faculty of Social Sciencies. She is very well known and respected in the academic circles, but little is known of her managerial ability. If and how she handles the continuation of Patria affair will be a tell-tale sign of her competence. Like Katarina Kresal, Jelušič is the first ever female Slovenian defence minister and hers is a difficult task, as Slovene army is facing a rather disturbing shortage of fresh flesh.
Minister of higher education, science and technology: Gregor Golobič. Again, as (sort of) predicted. Arguably the man with the broadest horizons in the government, the leader of Zares got a portfolio where he will be able to combine his various interests and backrgounds and yet leaving him ample time and maneouvering space to do some serious politics, without being too much in the limelight.
Minister of enviroment and urban planning: Karl Erjavec. The man who went for broke and almost lost everything. President of DeSUS may have been stripped of 24/7 armed bodyguard, a bullet-proof Audi and a police escort, but as Slovenia goes about revamping its aged railway system, there will be more than enough opportunities for Teflon Karl to make speeches and cut ribbons, while talking about “his pensioners”.
The next five. Eight to go.
Minister of education and sports: Igor Lukšič. Pahor’s right-hand man and lovingly known as party idelogoue. A professor of political sciencies on Faculty of Social sciencies in Ljubljana. He always maintained that repressive and ideological apparatuses are two of the most important sub-systems of any given state, with eductation being the prime agent of a state’s ideology. A generaly likable guy, who earned his Ph.D. at the age of 29 will finally get to show what he’s made of. His research into ideologies will probably make him a prime target of opposition attacks (something along the lines of reintroducing Leninism to schools, I imagine)
Minister of economy: Matej Lahovnik. Apparently it took some arm twisting for Lahovnik to take this post. There are at least two reasons for that: If there ever was a crappy job in the world, this is it. Along with labour and finance porftolios, minister of economy will have all the shit in the world thrown at him as soon as recession hits this side of the Alps for real. Secondly, it was Lahovnik, who advocated that fresh people take the helm, counting himself out of the equation on multiple occasions, not in the least because he once already held the very same portfoilo. Talk about putting a foot in one’s mouth…
Minister of finance: Franci Križanič. A widely respected macroeconomist, who was once already nominated for a ministerial post (in 1996, when Janez Drnovšek was inches away from forming a left-wing government). Recently he already worked with the outgoing govenment, when the latter drafted Slovenian bail-out legislation, which allocates 12 billion euros to secure interbank lending. But first Križanič will have to clean up state finaces, which are kind of muddled ever since the government claimed to have created a surplus, while the court of audit found a deficit instead.
Minister of labour, family and social affairs: Ivan Svetlik. Another professor at the Faculty of social sciencies. An expert in the field, but it remains to be seen how well he does as a minister. Officially a DeSUS nominee he is believed to be without actual party affiliation. The list of his immediate worries is long and distinguished: pensions, wages, unemployement… No wonder ministers of labour tend to have a short political life span
Minster w/o portforilo for development and European affairs: Mitja Gaspari. A boring sounding title hides the powers of a super-minister whose chief task will be to coordinate efforts of the above three portofolios and ensure that everybody will be on the same page at all times. Picked personally by Pahor some time before the elections, Gaspari will have almost unprecedented influence in the economic area of Pahor’s reign, as Pahor himself leaves a lot to be desired in this respect. Gaspari, however, already held the finance portfolio and was Governor of the Slovenian Central Bank. He also ran for President in 2007, narrowly losing second place to Danilo Türk in the first round.
Ministers 11 through 15
Minister of Public Administration (civil service): Irma Pavlinič Krebs. Once a MP from Koroška region, Pavlinič Krebs will take over from Gregor Virant who quietly but effectively ammased extroardinary powers under one title. The ministry handles most if not all of government tenders, coordinates the entire public administration (upravna enota, for all of you who’ve come in contact with Slovenian bureaucracy) and the system of wages in the public sector (some 300.000 employees)
Minister of Transportation: Patrick Vlačič. Another personal pick by Borut Pahor, Vlačič was/is the party’s chief expert in the field and has been a vocal opponent of practices under previous minsiters, all of whom came – without exception for the past 16 years – came from the ranks of SLS. Former finance minister Andrej Bajuk of NSi tried in vain to penetrate the shield SLS had created especially around the area of highway construction and maintainance and the full scope of the influence might (might!) become apparent only now. Vlačič’s first order of business will be to fix the “vignette fiasco”, where the European Comission demanded that Slovenia introduces a short-term vignette for transit vehicles. At the moment ther are only a 12- and 6-months vignettes available, and it seems that introducion a short-term one would break the financial model.
Minister of Culture: Majda Širca. A very important ministry, as it covers media as well. The ultimate test will be whether or not she will hold her party’s election promise to eject political interests from the board of RTV SLO, but her direction will become apparent almost immediately. Yesterday Delo newspaper bought Večer newspaper, in a move which violated the stipulation that any media cocentration above 20% of ownership must be pre-approved by the minister. As of 2005 the decision in minister’s alone and her decision will speak volumes. Hopefully she will a) deny the request to allow ownership concenctration and b) move to reintroduce legal requirements to approve or deny concentration, so that the decision will not be made at the discretion of the minister anymore.
Minister of justice: Aleš Zalar. Former president of the Ljubljana district court and a vocal opponent of the outgoing minister Lovro Šturm, especially ever since the two fell out over Zalar’s candidacy for another term as president of the court. Šturm went above and beyond the call of duty to prevent Zalar from getting another term and ever since the animosity is not just professional. Zalar will have to work closely with his party boss Katarina Kresal to enact overdue decisions of the constitutional court, but he is expected to take an up-close-and-personal look of the new penal code, which came into effect earlier this month and is according to some experts non-standard at best (and a piece of shit at worst).
Minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries: Milan Pogačnik. Another former SLS-fiefdom, important especially because of the ridiculoslly large amoutns of EU funds which are channeled through here. Pogačnik will probably have to face the issuse of GMOs sooner rather than later, as well as other pressing issues, mostly to do with climate changes.
And the last three…
Minister of health: Borut Miklavčič. The recurring theme of Slovenian health system are queues. While health is not really my forte, it can be said that the new minister will be tasked primarily with wrapping up investment projects of past mandates and trying to optimise the health sector which in all honesty is not in all that bad a shape, were it not for endless queues and severely outdated diagnostics equipment. Miklavčič was until now CEO of The Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia, performing compusolry health insurance and as such handling vast amounts of money. Upon assuming that position, he reportedly had to have his office debugged. Twice.
Minister w/o porftofilo in charge of local self-government: Zlata Ploštajner. Noone saw this one coming. Almost completely unknow, she once headed regional development agency in Kozjansko (an underdeveloper region south of Celje). However, pengovsky did take a couple of her courses while at the university, where she was lecturing as an outside expert and I can tell you that she didn’t strike me as a ministerial type. However (and this is me being cynical) if the new PM has plans to kill the regional legislation for good, she is as good as anyone for the job.
Minister w/o portfolio charge of Slovene expatriates: Boštjan Žekš. Former president of Slovene Academy of Arts and Sciencies and is very much respected on the political right as well. Perhaps Žekš’s nomination is a token attempt to appease the opposition since noone really knows why the hell do we nees this ministry. But the outgoing government changed the law which now stipulates that the ministry must exists – and there it is.
BTW: Sorry for beign late in posting this. Things to see and people to do.