The fallout from the report of the anti-graft commission is huge. On Friday the protest movement got a new impetus, putting Janez Janša and Zoran Janković side by side, along with the rest of the gang. Some 10.000 people attended the second edition of the “National Uprising” and the centre of Ljubljana was again packed, but it was in fact just a prelude to what turned out to be a bit of a cliffhanger Saturday.
(photo by Smetnjak)
Namely, after calling, nay, shouting at both the Prime Minster and the mayor of Ljubljana to resign, Gregor Virant‘s Citizens’ List held a powwow on Saturday where they were they… waited. They were waiting for Zoran Janković and his Positive Slovenia to wrap up their own party congress, where they (finally) adopted their party platform which – to chagrin of many – puts fight against corruption high on their priority list. I mean, it is slightly silly to adopt an anti-corruption platform while your party chief is being slammed on the head by the anti-graft commission. OK, so Janković is screaming bloody murder over it and professes his innocence (as does Janša, mind you), but still. On the other hand, Janković being Janković, this is exactly the type of thing he would have done in any similar case. A tongue-in-cheek move, to piss everyone off and try to prove his point. Which is why it came as a bit of a surprise that at the end of the congress he announced he’s “freezing” his party leadership (cue penguin jokes).
Power play of galactic proportions
Hearing of it, pengovsky went oh-no-you-didn’t. This was the worst possible move for Jay-Z to make. He maintains he made the move to open the doors to a shake-up of the political landscape by removing himself from the picture and encouraging junior coalition partners to kick Janša and his SDS loose and possibly form an interim technocratic government until early elections are held. He maintains that he will have no part in any potential negotiations and will not contend for the PM job. Fair enough. But since at the moment the anti-graft report is the only game in town, his “freezing” the presidency (effectively resigning) by definition makes it look as if that was the prime reason and not the alleged political crisis. Also, the move fuelled calls for his resignation as Ljubljana mayor as well. After all the report dealt with his actions as a mayor. Also he could have simply said that he will not claim the PM position nor will he negotiate in any way, shape of form, empowering others in the party to do that, and achieve the same effect sans resignation. Alternatively, he could have resigned (or at the very least, “frozen”) as mayor as well and really send a powerful message. Either, or. He chose to sit on the fence and nothing good ever came from that.
Especially since the odds are, that the whole thing is just a power-play of galactic proportion over the Slovenian State Holding, the newly established mother-of-all-state-owned companies. Courtesy of the Constitutional Court and its “act on protection of the state” it became operational at the beginning of the year and has a nine-member supervisory board which is to be appointed by the parliament. Case in point being the fact that Virant called a “consultation meeting” on the issue only days after first calling on JJ and Jay-Z to pack their bags. Also, SLS of Radovan Žerjav extended their deadline for Janša to go from “immediately” to 8 March, i.e. after the board will be appointed.
Wet dreams of a Communist conspiracy. Also: Azerbaijan, douze points
Word on the street, however, has it that Virant is dead-serious with his threat to walk out of the coalition if JJ continues to cling to his job. That may be, but Virant is known for his being dead-serious over a lot of things but then backing off at the last second. On the other hand, he could have bluffed his way into a tight spot and now can’t get out of it.
Namely, the SDS (now lovingly known as The Party) is no longer pulling any punches and went all out against anyone who is doubting Janša’s fitness to do his job. This primarily includes the protest movement, which they’ve tweeted was “full of communist zombies”, pushing crack-pot theories about “left-wing fascism” originated by Slavoj Žižek (piggy-backing on a blog in The Telegraph) and generally claiming that the government of Janez Janša is the only thing standing between Slovenia and the Apocalypse.
Ironically, their main political targets are not Zoran Janković and his PS (after all, he and Janša are in the same fix) but rather Gregor Virant and his Citizens’ List. For there seems to be a pro-Janša fraction in the party some elements of which have taken it upon themselves to debunk the anti-graft report in minute detail. At the same time the SDS parliamentary group said that Janša resigning “are wet wishes of some people”.
Yes. Wet wishes. Not wet dreams. Wishes. Geez, you’d think these people were never teenagers, playing the one-string violin or something. Yes, I know it’s a terrible mental image, but still. Also, today the SDS released a letter in English (!) explaining their take on things, which can basically be summed up in one sentence: IT’S ALL A COMMUNIST CONSPIRACY.
No, really. Here’s an excerpt:
The last President of the Communist Party of Slovenia and later on the first president of the Republic of Slovenia, Milan Kučan, who despite his retirement still figures as the most influential political persona of the hard-core Slovenian Left, has in his public appearances as well as via the background networks, activated members of the former secret political police, communist veterans, network of leftist organizations and some trade unions, and is also personally actively engaged in efforts to replace the government.
Read the letter in full. It’s a lovingly compiled scrapbook of their collective delusions, bad grammar included.
This, of course happened while Janša was in Azerbaijan, the winner of 2012 Eurovision song contest and apparently a new strategic market for Slovenia. In what has become a bit of a tradition, important things in this country happen while the man himself is out of the country. You know, alibis and stuff. The only problem is he was visiting the world’s Most Corrupt Leader of 2012. What were they doing? Exchanging notes? 😀
Truth be told, the SDS only wrote the letter after first denouncing a similar letter (of opposite content, naturally) by KOKS, an association of people of creative and/or cultural milieu. Signed by thousands, the letter states among other things that
The government has also responded to the protests by closing down the centre of the capital city of Ljubljana, by using riot police, horses, armoured vehicles, water cannons, antiriot fences and helicopters in what can only be characterized as a gross overreaction to the largely peaceful gatherings of Slovenian citizens. Top members of
Janez Janša’s party (SDS) have described the protesters as “ultra left extremists,” “zombies,” and characterized them as radical “neo-socialists,” in an effort to balance out the actual presence of neoNazis during the first Ljubljana protest (possibly organised by the ruling government itself in an effort to discredit the protests at the beginning of the movement)
Read full letter here. At least the grammar is much better 🙂
Also the newly minted President of the Republic got a letter. His initial response to the anti-graft report was muted at best (he was “worried”). He added a week later that he supports the commission but that it was up to Janša whether to resign or not and that he will not enter party politics. And today, when pressed in a letter by Janez Stanovnik (last socialst president of Slovenia and head of WWII veterans’ organisation), Pahor wrote a letter of his own, clarifying that he supports the anti-graft commission in its drive to clarify its competences but that as a matter of principle he will not call upon any elected official to resign.
Note how Pahor is bending over backwards to avoid saying anything on the position the PM of this country found himself in. Also, it is extremely telling that the president did not support the anti-graft findings, but rather said that he is in favour of clearly defining the commission’s competences. Which is exactly the one of the point both Janša and Janković dispute the commission. Bottom line: Borut Pahor is paying dearly for Janša’s support in the presidential race. He even has to cover Janković’s back, even though Zoki was in the other camp.
What does Auntie Angela have to say?
At any rate, Janša is back in the country which means this particular game of high-stakes poker can continue. Will Janša resign and pick a successor from within SDS, as DL, SLS and DeSUS demand? Odds are he will not. The stakes are simply too high for him. Some, however, say that he will be forced to. Not by his coalition partners, but rather by Berlin and Washington. Sure enough, the outgoing US Ambassador to Slovenia Joseph Musomelli has recently met with National Assembly vice-president Romana Tomc whose name was already floated as a possible interim-PM until early elections are called.
Now, this is a highly unlikely scenario in pengovsky’s opinion. Janša does not breed successors, he breeds followers. But the anti-graft fiasco was noted in Europe as well and it is quite possible JJ will find himself sidelined by Angela Merkel and the rest of the EPP pretty soon. Especially after the fiasco with alleged support by EU Council President Herman van Rompuy which turned out to be a gross misinterpretation of the facts Or as we call it – lying.
How does this play out?
There are three, nay four, ways this whole thing can go:
One: Janša doesn’t resign and roughs it out. Possible, but will leave him crippled for the rest of the term. Also, this probably only postpones the inevitable.
Two: Janša resigns immediately, no replacement PM is found and early elections are called in Spring. In the current climate of popular uprising, this would probably mean a very low turnout and a result which would only prolong the existing status quo (the PS would lose to SocDems, but overall picture would change little).
Three: a new coalition with a left-wing PM who is not Zoran Janković. This is unlikely in the extreme.
And four: Janša resigns, SDS goes into the opposition, while all other parties form a sort-of-national-unity coalition with a technocratic government which edges the country towards early elections some time in autumn, while it enacts the basic demands of the protest movement, including but not limited to changes in the voting system, anti-graft legislation and curbing austerity policies.