A New Prime Minister

As the world recupperates from celebrating the victory of the Big O., a quick recap of recent event this side of the financial crisis.

Borut Pahor taking the oath of office (photo: Blaž Samec/Delo)

As of Friday, Borut Pahor is Slovenia’s new PM-designate. As expected, he won a vote of confidence with 59 votes out of 90. Only days before the final draft of coalition agreement was ratified by leaders of The Quartet, Borut Pahor (SD), Gregor Golobič (Zares), Karl Erjavec (DeSUS) and Katarina Kresal (LDS). Contrary to Pahor’s projections, the agreement did not include the division of portfolios, as Karl Erjavec continued to play hardball which in the end cost him dearly.

As you know, Erjavec demanded that he remain minister od defence, which Pahor rejected flat out, prompting Teflon Karl to walk out of negotiations. However, negotiations broke down yet again only days later, at which point DeSUS’s MPs came out of the closet, saying that they will support the government regardless of whether Erjavec is made a minsiter or not. By that time it was clear that leader of DeSUS suceeded in one of his two basic demands, that is that DeSUS holds a portfolio more than LDS, on account of it having more MPs that the party led by Katarina Kresal.

However, Erjavec seems to have overplayed his cards and crashed-and-burned in attempts of securing a high-profile portfoilo for himself. It is more or less a given that he would have achieved both goals had he struck a deal with Pahor upon resuming negotiations for the first time. It is quite possible that he would be able to secure himself the position of minister of internal affairs back then. However, fair’s fair and it should be noted that Erjavec did the right thing in steering his party away from ministry of labour and social affairs. Officially, no names are given as yet, but it seems that Erjavec will be made minister of Enviroment and Urban Planning. Taking the ministry of labour would be tantamout to political suicide, since the looming economic crisis will most likely hit the labour-intensive Slovenian economy pretty hard, resulting in surging unemployement and other social problems. The fact that DeSUS MPs (as a sidenote: it would be wise for the next minister of labour, upon taking office, to sit down and write two letters)

On the other hand, Pahor’s treatement of Erjavec shows that the new PM has the nerves to wait it out and doesn’t fall for provocations easily. I could be wrong, but it seems that what seems to have benn an all-round condescending attitude towards Borut Pahor even within the coalition has discipated at least temprorarily and if roumors of specific nominations are correct, the new PM seems to have managed to have the cake and eat it, mostly at the expense of Karl Erjavec personally. More on that tommorow, hopefully.

At the same time Boško Šrot of Laško re-entered the limelight, apparently seeking to cash in on the change in governement as well as on the economic crisis. As you might know, he and his dependant companies own as much as 48 percent of Mercator, the largest reatil chain in Slovenia. Šrot got hold of Mercator for a below-market price in exchange for ceeding control over Delo newspaper to Janez Janša and his SDS. He later double-crossed Janša who, in respoce, started his famed “war against tycoons”, the only real result being that Šrot, his Laško Brewery and Mercator are being investigated for alleged cartel agreements.

Now, Šrot is “threatening” to sell his 48% percent stake in Mercator if the government agencies do not back off and hinted that he would be willing to sell it back to the state. Hopefully the new PM will not fall for the same trick his predecessor did and will not finance Šrot’s MBO of Laško by buying back Mercator at a markup price. Pengovsky smells an out-and-out foul play here, but more on that in a couple of days as we get back on track.

Some Ironies Of The US Presidential Elections

Now that the inital frenzy is slowly giving way to real life, perhapse a couple of thoughts on election of Barack Obama for the next president of the United States of America:

(a disclaimer: please note that in this case I’m only an outside observer with a keen interest and may have as such overlooked important details)

OK, so political correctness was never my forte :mrgreen:

First and foremost, election results show that US democracy is indeed alive and well. I’ve always maintained that democratic prinicples are implemented by attempts at breaching them. WMD-related-hide-and-seek, Guantanamo, Patriot Act, purging of voters, you name it… The last eight years made the USA anything but a beacon of democracy and at moments it seemed that “e pluribus unum” seemed just a waste of ink on an increasingly worthless dollar bill.

However, the system, which was almost-but-not-quite derailed, bounced back and reaifirmed the old truth, that Newton’s third law applies to politics as well. Every action produces an equal but opposite reaction. But the real proof of democracy being alive and well is the fact that the system can absorb such shocks and swings.

This election was about race and sex as much as it was about politics, yet both were aluded at only eliptically. The irony of Barack Obama’s election for the top job is, that – in order to become the first black president of the US – he had to play down the race card. Even more, he had to pretend that race was not the issue. He even went so far that in his victory speech he only made a passing mention of Martin Luther King, describing him as “a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that ‘we shall overcome'”. Until now it was up to leaders of black community to try to convince the white establishment that “race didn’t matter”. Yesterday, Barack Obama told the black community that race doesn’t matter.

The same goes for Hillary Clinton, who was up against similar mechanisms, only from a point of view of a gender. Had she won the Democratic nomination, she would have to prove to women that she did not run for office because she is a woman, just as Obama reiterated that he did not run for office because he is black, but because he can do a better job than the incumbent and his Republican opponent.

On the whole, the US electorate is (still?) pragmatic and can prioritize. Race could have mattered. Sex could have mattered. Experience in security issues could have mattered more. But as the voters got a sneak-peek of an economic and social Armageddon, they realized that all of the above doesn’t matter a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys if they’re faced with a prospect of going down to the docks to see if there’s some work.

Negative campaigning aside, Republicans – be it willingly or unwillingly – played a huge part making race and sex a non-issue.. It was as if a spell was broken. What seemed impossible only two years ago, was suddenly perfectly logical. While it was somewhat logical that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton did not trade blows on race and gender (it would, afterall be a case of the pot calling the kettle black), the fact that Republicans chose to ignore Obama’s weakest point – that they did not portray him as a “racial candidate” – contributed a lot to Obama’s becoming and remainig acceptable to a wide range of voters who might have voted Republican if the racial card was invoked.

And while the decision to ingore this issue might seem obvious, it was a very brave decision to do so. Going after Obama’s race would probably clinch McCain’s victory, but would poison – if not completely sever – itnerracial relations in the US, both politically and quite possibly in a society as a whole. But the Republicans went one step further. Not only they set a standard in term of race (or more acurately, reacting to a non-white opponent), but they also set a standard in terms of gender.

Although she may well be on her way to join Dan Quayle in the House of Political Horrors, nominating Sarah Palin for John McCain’s running mate single-handedly took care of the can-a-woman-ever-be-president dillema. In the words of Barack Obama: yes, she can. If the Democratic party made history, it was the Republican party which held the rear. And John McCain – especially his concession speech – was instrumental in this.

There. My fifty cents 😀

Hi! I’m Barack. This Is My Crib…

With thanks to rollo for the joke

So there is a chance… I mean, not that things will be different, but they can be different…

This morning’s read: Adventures in Wheelville, Piran Cafe, The Good Doctor and my favourite moose as well as some economic insight by Investment postcards from Capetown . Plus the usual.

EDIT: The Onion reports: Black Man Given Nation’s Worst Job. Love it! :mrgreen:

EDIT 2: In response to dr. Arf’s comment, here are Obama’s victory speech and McCain’s concession speech. Indeed… Had McCain found it within himself to be himself throughout the campaign, it might have ended differently. Or not…. You might, however, want to watch for the crowd’s reaction to McCain’s mention of Sarah Palin.

Pahor Gets Nod As Obama, McCain Wait For One

As the world waits for the US voters to decide (failing that, for the US courts to decide, not that everyone is holding their breath), Slovenian President Danilo Türk formally nominated leader of Social Democrats Borut Pahor as his candidate for PM.

President Türk and PM nominee Pahor (source)

The Parliament will hold the vote on Friday, when Pahor is expected to win the nomination easily. He might have a bit more trouble with forming the government, though. Karl Erjavec of DeSUS is again playing maverick and demands one of the big portfolios for himself (foreign, internal, judicial or defence), whereas Pahor apparently made it clear that all of those are off the table and offered him social affairs instead (curioulsy, that is exaclty what DrSean was asking the other day) Erjavec rejected the portfolio flat out, much to dismay of DeSUS’ MPs.

In any case, Pahor will have 15 days starting Friday to come up with a cabinet and will – if successful – be sworn two months and five days before whoever succeeds Dubya on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue