In what was something of a surprise, president Danilo Türk said in a press conference earlier today that he asked Marko Voljč if he’d take on the nomination for the post of the Prime Minister. Formerly CEO of Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB), the largest bank in the country, he was forced to step down in 2003 in the wake of the so called Sigma Affair, when the bank entered a prolonged period of epic fails after implementing a new IT solution called Sigma which wasn’t all that was cracked up to be and wrecked temporary havoc with people’s bank accounts. Voljč moved on to become head of the regional division of the Belgian KBC which bought 34% of NLB in 2002. But today is not Voljč’s first foray into politics.
Way back in 1992, when it became obvious that the first democratically elected government of Lojze Peterle was more or less in disarray, Marko Voljč (who was until then with the World Bank in Central America) was put forward as a challenger to Peterle in a no-confidence vote but lost by five votes. Eventually Peterle was ousted by Janez Drnovšek and soon thereafter Voljč became CEO of NLB where he stayed until 2003.
The President’s announcement today doesn’t mean that Voljč is nominated. What The Prez did was floated Voljč’s name for the political parties to consider whether the 44-44 stalemate between left- and right-wing parties could be broken. Specifically, this puts the spotlight on DeSUS of Karl Erjavec and DLGV of Gregor Virant. The former is apparently under pressure from party ranks not to join a possible Janša coalition, whereas Virant said more than once that a third person should be put forward, i.e. someone who is neither Janez Janša nor Zoran Janković.
While on the surface the Prez’s suggestion might seem bi-partisan and an attempt to break the political impasse, it could very well backfire. Sure, Virant will have a hard time explaining how or why he wouldn’t support someone from outside the immediate political field, but since his ratings are on the low end of the single-digit territory, his clout is all but gone and he seems to be already in Janša’s pocket. OK, so anything can happen and Virant is more than capable of shooting himself in the knee repeatedly, but reneging first on Janković and then on Janša will only speed up his political demise.
But as things stand, Virant may actually stand a chance of skipping Voljč and living to tell about it. Namely, what President Türk did today was not the most brilliant of political moves. True, the PM need not first be elected to the parliament to take the post, but nominating someone who did not even run, much less got elected while there’s a potential PM nominee on the political right is not exactly kosher. Sure, Janez Janša faces exactly the same problem as Zoran Janković did, in that he can only count on 44 votes and then lure “rats” from the left side of the spectrum across the isle, but if Zoran Janković was extended the privilege of being nominated, the same courtesy should be extended to Janša.
Speak now or forever hold your peace
In round two of the “find the PM” reality show things admittedly get much more serious. This is the final round where an absolute majority is needed and a reasonably stable government can be formed. Should this round give us no PM, however, a third round is possible, where only a relative majority is needed. In pengovsky’s opinion, president Türk should have waited with his “outside of the box” solution until then.
Regardless of the outcome, it would be only fair to let Janša have a crack at forming the coalition. It was also due to his actions that round one failed and leader of the SDS should be allowed to try and pick up the pieces. Namely, if he failed (something that depends heavily on Karl Erjavec and DeSUS), he’d be hard pressed to do anything but forever hold his peace and press the “yes” button during votes. Optimistic, I know, but there you have it. But what the President did was go head to head against Janša, who now only needs keep Virant in check, thus undermining Voljč as a nominee (the banker-man apparently said he’d want bipartisan support) and politically humiliate President Türk, who would thus score his second strike-out.
Zoran Janković said minutes ago that his PS would support Voljč, but that only means 28 votes. Luckily, Türk didn’t officially nominate Voljč, but the damage is done. Shitstorm continues.