Early Elections Just Got Canceled

As of yesterday, there’s no doubt what so ever that Slovene Democratic Party of Janez Janša has absolutely no interest to actually call early elections, despite making a lot of hoopla about it.

The Constitution (source)

Amid an atmosphere of growing popular discontent with this nation’s elected representatives, a dog-eat-dog climate and a government which increasingly has to deal with its own problems, calls for early elections are getting ever louder. In fact, the only party which is directly opposing the early elections are (how predictable) Zmago Jelinčič‘s nationalists for whom the elections are always a gamble, although Jelinčič made the cut every time. True, if one were to disregard party affiliation one would quite possibly find that few MPs are keen on cutting their term, but since most of them adhere to party discipline, they seem to be supporting early elections. On surface, at least. Truth be told, next to Jelinčič, the ruling Social Democrats still have to make up their mind, but as long as Borut Pahor stubbornly continues as prime minister, they can more or less successfully dodge the question.

However, even if the SD were to make up their mind and take the plunge, it would amount to very little. You see, under current constitution, early elections are next to impossible. Not completely impossible, but close. To call early elections now, PM Borut Pahor would have to resign, the President would have to nominate a new PM and then a majority of MPs would have to be disciplined enough to vote down this person who would have to be willing to take a dive on an open parliamentary stage. The whole procedure would take a month and a half or so which means that extraordinary discipline of an absolute majority of MPs would have to be maintained for six weeks, not to mention that what was just described is in fact an abuse of democratic procedure.

To circumvent that, ideas were floated to change the constitution and make it easier for the parliament to be dissolved and thus bring about early elections. Pengovsky already wrote about President Danilo Türk threading on thin ice on this issue. There’s also Zares of Gregor Golobič, which floated ideas about amending this part of the constitution as early as January this year and expanded on them later on. Not that theirs is a perfect solution. If pengovsky understood correctly, Zares wants the president – upon resignation of a sitting MP – to be able to either appoint a new candidate for MP or dissolve the parliament and call early elections. This idea has one major problem: if the PM and his government atr elected by the parliament (which is the case now), they can only tender their resignations to the parliament. If Zares really wanted to bring the President into the picture, they would have to revamp the entire system of separation of powers. Which is probably a good idea, but would probably require much more careful consideration. Taking powers on one end and putting them on another end of the systems checks-and-balances can have unpredictably massive effects.

But if Zares’ proposal is something to consider and work on because it may yield beneficial results, the proposal which the SDS of Janez Janša submitted to the parliament today on Monday is a piece of bullshit deluxe. What SDS did was propose an amendment to Article 81 of the Constitution, basically saying that an absolute majority of MPs (46, to be exact) can vote to dissolve the parliament and thus hold elections within two-months-time.

What sounds lovely at first glance, is in reality a huge piece of political crap. If a majority of MPs were able to dissolve the parliament, they’d be doing it all the time, Every time the government would consider that its ratings allow, it would be able to call early elections with little or no warning whatsoever, get re-elected and win another four year term, long before the first one would end. It would also equip the ruling party with an unfair advantage as it would be able to control the election schedule rather than the situation which we have now, when everything is more or less clear in advance. Furthermore, empowering 46 MPs with a power do dissolve the institution which represents the sovereign of this country (the people), goes against every political and legal theory. If election laws need 2/3 majority to be confirmed and if the government constitution needs a double 2/3 majority to be changed, it is simply not logical for such a strong and far reaching instrument to be invoked by only an absolute majority.

SDS of course know all of the above. They did the math and they know that they have neither legal grounds nor political support to pull off a stunt like that. However, being masters of procedure that they are, they’ve effectively hijacked the procedure for changing the constitution and have in effect blocked any attempts to indeed change it. Namely: their motion takes precedence and it means that the procedure constitutional will have to go full circle, probably all the way from debate in the constitutional committee to the plenum vote. Given that we are just about to enter the summer break, the SDS have thus ensured that this procedure will last well into the autumn, possibly winter. By then regular elections would be practically around the corner, Zares’ motion (even if it entered the parliamentary procedure) doesn’t stand a chance of even being debated on, much less surviving a vote.

Thus the largest opposition party made sure that nothing will change and that early elections will definitely not be held. Which is precisely what they wanted. Despite the fact that prominent SDS members are running rather naive sounding on-line petitions, early elections are bad for the party, since it has no election platform and seems to be convinced that the more beating PM Pahor receives, the easier SDS and Janez Janša will reach their goal of 50+ (percent of votes in the new parliament).

The proposed amendments to the constitution by the SDS are therefore nothing but a stalling manoeuvre aimed at prolonging the life of this parliament for as long as politically possible.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.