Pengovsky showed some time ago that chances of early elections being called in Slovenia are about two to the power of 2079460347 against. Nearly everyone is competing in who will issue a more urgent call for early elections, but when a push comes to a shove, everybody’s got some other business to attend to. Like running the country. Keeping the parliamentary seat. Pointing fingers. Or even crowd-sourcing. Anything but calling the damn elections.
(source, of course)
Prime Minister Borut Pahor was on the telly
yesterday Tuesday evening, where he said, for example, that he came to the conclusion that his resignation would only push the country deeper into political crisis rather than bring about early elections, so he chose to continue as PM. He also said that a new round of discussion on pension reforms is to take place, despite the fact that he and his government received an epic beating in a referendum on pension reform a month ago.
He is also about to take over as acting minister for Public Administration instead of Irma Pavlinič Krebs who resigned her post and will be formally relieved next week and he is already facing unrest in the public sector unions. As if that wasn’t enough, the PM recently trekked half-way around the world to India to find a buyer for the limping national airline Adria Airways, is dealing with the Greek financial crisis and has recently confabulated with opposition leader Janez Janša on how the political future of this country. A tall order by any standard, but when compared to the PM’s low ratings and mounting credibility issues, it become obvious that the PM’s ego issuing checks his body can’t possibly cash.
Anything to stave off the elections, apparently.
Of all the voices calling for early elections, those in Janez Janša‘s SDS are among the most vocal. Indeed, there are also at least two sort-of-grass-roots campaigns probably aimed at expanding the breath and appeal of the largest opposition party. One group, calling themselves Active Citizens Group headed by sociologist Matej Makarovič (who among other things was the first president of SDS youth organisation) is positioning itself as a think-tank for the political right and is citing the do’s and the dont’s for SDS and sister parties in order to win elections. Another group, headed by SDS Ljubljana city councilman Žiga Turk is (was?) collecting online signatures to call early elections. To date they collected some 19,000 signatures which – although not a smallish number – is way below anything that could make members of this group gurgle with excitement.
Altough both groups try to present themselves as grass-roots movements, they are anything but. Both of them boast former ministers as leading members, some of whom are speculated to return to the cabinet if and when Janez Janša wins elections. But apart from a slight transparency issue this is not really important.
What is more than obvious is the fact that – just as the ruling coalition – the opposition has a general credibility problem which it is trying to rectify by generating “civil society” clamour for a change at the helm of the country. Namely – if all were well and good in this world, the opposition would win the next elections without breaking a sweat, especially with as unpopular a government as we have now. However, the polls show that Janez Janša’s overall strategic objective of winning 50+ percent of seats in the parliament will remain wishful thing. Which is why he needs a credibility boost. Ad-hoc civil society support groups are one way of doing it.
A more effective way of gaining some credibility is by presenting a viable election platform. Which is exactly what the SDS did yesterday. Or did they? Well, not really. What they presented, was actually a draft platform, a patchwork of ideas some of which sound more plausible than others. Just a teaser: on one hand, the SDS would (predictably) lower taxes dramatically while increasing infrastructure investments on the other but it would also put a ceiling in public debt to 45% of GDP (currently, Slovenia’s public debt is at 38% percent of GDP).
That this platform is a work in progress is also shown by the fact that SDS is crowdsourcing ideas on a dedicated website. This is not the first time they resorted to this trick. In fact, even while still in power, Janša’s government launched a site that sought people’s views on the future of Slovenia. Little came out of it. Ditto for a similar site launched by the incumbent government. And, just to further make the point, Ljubljana branch of SDS made the same move, releasing draft platform six months before elections and crowdsourced input with limited success.
Six months ago Janez Janša announced the need for the Second Republic. Just as the notion was starting to fade, he announced a draft election platform. Neither is anything to write home about, so it is safe to assume that both were primarily aimed at creating buzz rather than substance, although yesterday’s document offers several concrete although self-conflicting measures.
Point being that SDS made precious little progress in terms of preparing for elections. Given that their motion to change the constitution which the parliament is debating right now actually decreases rather than increases chances of early elections, the conclusion is that Janez Janša is in fact in no hurry to get to election day.
Two MPs for Zares quit their party group yesterday and switched to independents. Vili Trofenik and Alojz Posedel were the odd men out almost from the very start, not in the least because they often departed from the party line, most notably on the question of mayor/MP conflict. This brings Zares’ MPs down to seven, making them a slightly less of a force to be reckoned with, although they are still the third most powerful party in the parliament.
Bleeding votes is never a good thing, regardless of how Gregor Golobič tries to play down the move by both MPs. But in all honesty, the switch was at least suspected if not outright expected, not just because Golobič is back in the parliament, making a nuisance of himself to everyone who had it fairly easy, both within Zares as well as in other parties (case in point being Golobič’s entry into the Twitter-sphere, where he immediately made waves).
It mostly has to do with the expected lifespan of this parliament. Posedel and Trofenik have no interest to see it come to a premature end as their chances of getting re-elected are (save a political miracle) practically zero. So parting of ways was imminent.
We are nowhere near elections. Even if the PM ties a confidence vote to the budget rebalancing act in September and loses, elections are possible in beginning of December at the earliest. And it seems that the more necessary the confidence vote is, the less probable it is becoming. Until yesterday, the minority government of Borut Pahor had merely thirty-three votes in the parliament (SD and LDS). It could more or less count on two out of three votes of the independent MPs. Now, that count is up to four. This means the count now goes up to thirty-seven, making it nine short of an absolute majority. Adding two votes of minority MPs, this can be further extended to 39 and with that PM Pahor suddenly has enough wiggle room to make it all the way home, since both opposition SLS and SNS (five votes each) have declared their opposition to early elections. In addition DeSUS of Karl Erjavec also has zero interest in early elections, which means the primer minister is in the position to shop for votes on any given vote.
The only problem is that this is no time to play political games and spend energy on political survival. In this situation, hanging in there makes you an even bigger loser.