Yesterday Ljubljana City councillors passed a decision to name the yet-to-be-built avenue after Josip Broz Tito. This in itself is not news as the result of yesterday’s vote was more or less a foregone conclusion, given the balance of power in Ljubljana City Council where mayor’s political group enjoys an absolute majority.
Tito and his pioneers
What is noteworthy is the date of the vote – 25 May, the Youth Day in former Yugoslavia. Pengovsky is too old to believe in coincidences and this is no coincidence, believe you me. The date of yesterday’s session was deliberately chosen to humiliate the political right wing which sought to capitalise on discovery of Huda Jama mass grave and have Tito’s name erased from those few streets which still bear it. The move, however, exploded right into their faces, as mayor Zoran Janković and one of the more prominent members of his List Peter Božič moved to name a newly constructed street after Tito.
Janković’s move is highly controversial and had it been proposed on its own I’m sure he would have failed spectacularly. But as it were, he got a comfortable public opinon approval rating of 60 percent, most of which we can safely put down to SDS going after removing Tito streets all over Slovenia in the first place. The right-wing cause was not helped by the youth organisation of Nova Slovenija (NSi), a junior coalition partner in government of Janez Janša (2004-2008), which went after Janković and generated a lot of media hype, but – failing to support its rhetoric with action (it only generated 5000 “sigunatures” all over Slovenia in an on-line petition) – overplayed it and came across looking rather ridiculous.
So instead of getting rid of what remained of Tito in Slovenian topography, right wing parties helped create one more Tito Street, in a city which was once already stripped of it. And it happened on the day when Tito’s cult of personality was celebrated in socialist Yugoslavia. This was a rather clever bit of agenda manoeuvring by mayor Janković and it produced a lot of fuming especially with NSi youngsters. Their president Jernej Vrtovec said yesterday that “Janković will not be mayor forever and once he’s gone, so will be Titova Street“.
But this was an easy victory for Janković. Everyone played right into his hand. His real test will be getting from Pahor’s government the money Janša’s government took from him.