Speculation time. Based on nothing more than his political prowess, sixth sense and a Chinese fortune cookie, pengovsky calls minister of finance Janez Šušteršič resigning or “being resigned” within three to six months. Moreover, Šušteršič will probably be in for a rude shock as his Citizens’ List (DL) will not follow suit, leaving the coalition the ruling coalition to churn on.
The last one to laugh… Gregor Virant and Janez Šuteršič (photo by Jože Suhadolnik/Delo)
The case for this is relatively simple. In the last couple of weeks the DL and its president Gregor Virant were browbeaten on many occasions. Shortly after assuming office, the government forced changes to the State Prosecution Act, transferring State Prosecution from the portfolio of justice minister Senko Pličanič (DL) to that of Vinko Gorenak (SDS). Some months later, finance minister Šušteršič found himself foot-in-mouth on the issue of bank recapitalisation, when he was forced to OK state recapitalisation of the largest (and state-owned) NLB bank despite his prior assurances that not a euro of taxpayers’ money will be spent on saving the terribly exposed banking sector. It was all sell-it-all-the-market-will-recognise-its-own until then, but when push came to a shove… well.. you know the rest. Slightly before that, the government in general and Šušteršič specifically got a bit of a bloody nose in a relatively hard riposte by OECD. The organisation whose member Slovenia longed to become for more than ten years (finally succeeding some two years ago) was utterly unhappy about government’s plans to bring state-owned companies back under the executive’s direct control as one of the membership conditions was to institute safeguards which would prevent direct political influence being brought to bear. Pahor’s government didn’t do an especially brilliant job on that either, but apparenty it was better than what Šušteršič had in mind. And finally, Šušteršič was the subject of a very public dressing-down last week when the government rejected his 2013 and 2014 budget drafts.
Now, it goes without saying that all of these fails were politically coordinated. While Šušteršič was the key architect of austerity Slovenian way, the idea was subscribed to by virtually every single member of Janša’s cabinet, trying desperately to be the best pupils in the “Merkel School of Economics”. According to media reports, the government is mulling a new austerity package, despite being painfully obvious that across-the-board cuts have failed both at home as well as internationally. Austerity, banking policy, government direct control over companies and budget drafts, these things don’t happen overnight. They are mulled, debated, sketched, re-drafted and finally submitted for approval. A lot of people from a lot of parties are involved with this. But now, as austerity is finally coming out of fashion, you can rest assured that it will all be blamed on the politically naive finance minister. But that will be only the pretext.
The real reason for an all-out against Šušteršič and Virant is the semi-silent turf-war that has been raging between DL and SDS for some months now. As pengovsky noted in one of the previous posts it’s all about who gets to sit on which board of which state-owned company. To victor go the spoils and SDS feels there’s only one party which fits the description (and it ain’t Zoran Janković‘s Positive Slovenia, if you catch my meaning). But the main difference between Virant and Šušteršič is that the former is very much adaptable and will go to great lengths to keep what he has acquired (politically). Even if it means having to sacrifice the man over whom (allegedly) he took a stand against Janković in the first coalition negotiations and ushered the second coming of Janez Janša.