If you google terms Pavle Gantar and Douglas Adams together, you get zero relevant results. And yet it looks like president of the parliament is a huge fan of the man who gave us that wholly remarkable book with the words “Don’t panic!” written on its cover in nice, friendly letters. If that is not the case, than the probability factor of him calling local elections exactly on 42 (or, if you like on 10/10/10) are exactly two to the power of two-hundred-and-sixty-seven-thousand, seven-hundred-and-nine to one against. Well, in reality, the probability factor is slightly higher, but you get the point.
Here’s what the Guide has to say about elections:
A unique process, that exists mostly in so-called “Democratic” countries, in which several different idiots try to convince the general population of a country to put a little piece of paper with a particular idiot’s name on it into an envelope, and then stick the envelope into a big wooden box (in some countries this process has been replaced by clicking their name in a computer). Sounds silly? It will sound even sillier when you realize that this is the form of ruling in these countries. That is, instead of doing something sensible, like getting all the potential leaders into a room and having them throw mud at each other to decide who wins, they do it this way. An even more unsual factor than the elections themselves is the election “campaign”. This is where all the various idiots (a.k.a politicians) make nice colorful posters and TV commercials with catchy tunes to convince you to “vote” (put the envelope with their name in it into the wooden box) for them, or not to vote for others. In “non-democratic” countries, the process is made simpler by the fact that all the notes have only one name on them.
If anything, the above goes especially for Slovenian local elections. No wonder that the guide supplanted the Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge
But OK, enough fooling around. Yes, the president of the parliament called this year’s municipal elections on 10 October. At the moment Slovenia has 210 municipalities which means 210 mayoral and council elections. Pengovsky will leave it to you to decide on the absurdity of the situation of having one mayor per 9500 citizens and will instead focus on the most interesting part of the race: local elections in the capital Ljubljana.
President of the parliament Gantar sets election date (source: The Firm™)
Here, the situation is intriguing to say the least. Incumbent mayor Zoran Janković announced as early as December 2009 that he will seek re-election and ever since most of city political parties were preoccupied with deciding whom to run against Janković or whether to enter the mayoral race altogether.
Seven months later there are only four confirmed candidates. Janković himself, Mojca Kucler Dolinar of Christian-democratic Nova Slovenija, Meta Vesel Valentičič of DeSUS (the pensioner’s party) and Miha Jazbinšek, the lone rider of city politics, who will officially run on the Green party ticket, but is considered to be an institution unto himself. Additionally, the Liberal democrats (LDS) have apparently decided against running with their own man (or woman) and will support Janković for mayor instead. Reportedly, Zares are leaning towards that same move, although there’s no official word on it yet.
This basically leaves the Ljubljana branches of Borut Pahor’s Social democrats and Janez Janša’s SDS to pick their candidates. And this is where the fun starts. Not that there’s any particular rule to it, but traditionally local party leadership does not run for mayoral positions, but rather go for slightly less demanding and more behind-the-scenes council positions. However, both SD and SDS will probably be forced to put up their respective branch presidents against Janković which should make the Elections of 42 rather interesting, and for two reasons.
Pengovsky already wrote about the fact that little love is lost between Janković and the leadership of Ljubljana Social democrats, specifically between him and branch president Metka Tekavčič. If (or when) the two will be head to head in the debates, sparks will probably be flying all over, as Tekavčič is known for her smile-and-stab talk, which is precisely what ticks Janković off. On the other hand the incumbent mayor has a fuse the length of a closely-mowed grass and is liable to crush Tekavčič into sun dust. It will probably not be pretty, but it will be fun.
Janez Janša’s SDS has similar problems. But different. Theirs was a candidate eagerly awaited, not in the least because Janković took innumerable pot-shots against SDS and Janša, especially after Janša’s government took some 60 million euro in municipality financing away from Ljubljana (or, as they would say: redistributed the monies differently) and relations just went from bad to worse to childish. Ljubljana SDS branch was caught between a rock and a hard place as they had to defend Janša’s policies and moves which were down right insulting towards the capital city. However, rather than amend his party’s stance towards the city, Janša had the leadership of Ljubljana SDS replaced and for a while it seemed they were on a roll.
SDS presented their election platform as early as March this year and former minister of development Žiga Turk was widely speculated to be their pick for the mayoral race. But then it all fell apart. In the aftermath of Janša’s defeat on the referendum on the Arbitration agreement Turk made a Shermanesque statement about not running for mayor and SDS has been quiet on the issue ever since. And so it seems that Dragutin Mate, newly minted leader of Ljubljana SDS and Janez Janša’s war buddy will have to run and take one for the team. Because as things stand now, he has zero chances of defeating Janković.
So the main threat Janković is facing is not from the right but from the left side of the political spectrum, as Vesel Valentinčič and especially Tekavčič can (if the events unfolded unfavourably to Janković) chip off just enough votes to force a second round. In all honesty, this looks unlikely to happen at this time, but it is a possibility that can not be discounted.
Plan B, however, is much more realistic. While some parties will support Janković as mayor, every single party will run for seats in the city council with its own tickets. During this term Janković and his List (not a true party, but a political association for all intents and purposes) held an absolute majority of 23 out of 45 total votes in the council. All other parties and lists in the council aim to prevent that from happening again. But Janković, not to be outdone, is going for broke and wants to repeat the result. We’ll deal with the implications of either outcome some other time, but point is this will be the main battle of 2010 local elections in Ljubljana.
Should be fun. And sleeping will once again be for pussies.