Slovene Democratic Party (SDS) and Slovene People’s Party (SLS) led by Janez Janša and Radovan Žerjav respectively today started a procedure for impeachment of President Danilo Türk. As you will remember, SDS, SLS and NSi went apeshit when The Prez decorated the last socialist interior secretary Tomaž Ertl with a medal for exceptional perfomance during Operation North
Do you wanna impeach me, punk!? Danilo Türk and Janez Janša (photo by Srdjan Zivulovic/Bobo)
Contrary to media reports this is not the first time impeachment proceeding have been initiated. In 1994 SLS tried to impeach PM Janez Drnovšek for signing the so called “Spanish compromise”, an agreement between Slovenia and Italy which enabled Slovenia to sign the Association Pact with the EU (in case you’re interested it had to do with the right of Italian and other EU nationals to buy property in Slovenia). And 1998/99 SDS tried to impeach him again, because Slovenian and Israeli security services signed a secret cooperation agreement (which may or may have not been a cover for an arms deal).
Slightly OT: Technically it is true that this is this is the first time the proceedings have been initiated against the President of the republic, but since impeachment procedure is covered in Article 109 of the Constitution and Section 8 of the parliamentary Rules And Procedures and applies to ministers, the PM as well as the President, this is yet another example of Slovenian media not doing their homework properly, since they’ve reported time and again today that this is the first case of impeachment in Slovenia’s history.
Be that as it may, the move to start impeachment proceedings can be initiated by thirty MPs (not a problem for SDS-SLS duo which have some 35 MPs between the two of them), but must be approved by an absolute majority of fourty-six MPs who voted in favour in a secret ballot (impeachment is one of the few instances where voting is not public and electronic). Should this unlikely event occur, it is then up to the Constitutional Court to vote on censuring the President. In accordance with Section 7 of the Law on the Constitutional Court The Court may find the accused guilty and can (but this is not a must) relieve him of his duty. It can also temporarily suspend him form office pending a final ruling. All decisions are taken with a two-thirds majority (six out of nine constitutional judges)
Charges against President Türk are absurd. SDS and SLS claim that Türk decorated a man who headed UDBa, the socialist secret police and is as such responsible for terrorist actions, murders and torture as well as high treason for failing to stop disarmament of Slovene army prior to 1990 democratic elections. This last one is the bee in Janša’s bonnet and there are precious few political opponents of his he did not accuse of the very same thing.
It must be said, for the sake of clarity, that UDBa was not a uniform entity but that there were actually flavours to it and that the chain of command was not at all clear. As most secret services Yugoslav UDBa went through several massive shake-ups, the last one being circa 1982 (two years before Ertl was made interior secretary), which created a mess out of it, since it created six republic braches of UDBa (one for each republic) which were answerable to federal UDBa in Belgrade. But at the same time they were also under political control of their native republics, which created a complex and often uneasy menage a trois, which was often made even more difficult (especially in case of Slovenia) when KOS, the military intelligence service, joined in on the fun and ran its own operations against any combination of the above three players (republic leadership, the local UDBa and Belgrade). As a result UDBa lost a lot of its edge, but was still – this must be said – a fully operational secret police.
So, fact remains that Matjaž Ertl was interior secretary between 1984 and 1990 which at the time meant that he controlled both regular and secret police. In today’s world this indeed doesn’t look good on one’s resume. Pengovsky said time and again that it was stupid of Türk to decorate Ertl and that the country could do without the whole brouhaha. So, it may very well have been wrong to decorate Ertl, but is it unconstitutional?
It is within the Prez’s powers to decorate whomever he sees fit and he cannot be held responsible for transgressions of recipients of medals. Much less so if evidence against Ertl is circumstantial at best. Even if we accept the notion that Ertl systematically and directly violated human rights because Slovenian UDBa was under his command (a notion pengovsky is inclined to agree with), this does not mean that President Türk violated human rights because he decorated Ertl. Not to mention the fact that the latter for decorated for a specific action and not for, say, lifetime achievements.
It is also plainly obvious that impeachment proceedings will not clear even the very next hurdle. There is just no way for SDS and SLS to get the 46th vote, even if the disgruntled DeSUS votes in favour of impeachment simply to get even and vent off some steam. So what we are dealing here is a text-book case of character assassination, pure and simple. The Prez will probably come down to the parliament, reject the allegations, the parliament will vote the move down, but documents and “documents” which SDS produced (and will probably produce some more) will remain to be quoted, pasted, and waved by SDS and SLS from here to eternity (or, at the very least, to the next elections).
They even went so far as to include resolution by the European People’s Party among the “evidence” (appendix 18). A party document! A resolution they themselves has proposed and which the EPP adopted in Bonn no-questions-asked. What the fuck is this?! How on Earth can a group of intelligent individuals refer to their own political statement as grounds for impeachment?!? Who’s the Stalinist now, biyatch!? (not that pengovsky didn’t know this was bound to happen)
This has nothing to do with protecting the constitution, but has everything to do with opinion polls. Today we are witnessing the lowest and the slimiest in Slovenian politics, where shit is actually made up just to bring people down a peg or two. Character assassination is something Janša and his SDS are very good at, as we’ve seen in the case of Gregor Golobič (who, it must be said aided an abetted in that enterprise himself). But it is one thing to throw shit at a party leader only to see him shoot himself in the knee. It is quite another to try to destabilise the highest political office in the country using any means possible. And I don’t mean just abusing constitutional provisions. I have a funny feeling that the parliament might debate this just about the time Janša announced the massive out-pour of his supporters to streets of Ljubljana, exercising his version of direct democracy.