Yes, jaKa was right in comments yesterday. You need at least three people for a proper Mexican stand-off. Which we do. Following the report of the anti-graft commission DL leader and president of the parliament Gregor Virant pulled the gun (so to speak) on both Janez Janša and Zoran Janković and demanded they both resign or else…
Mexican stand-off in Slovenian politics (original picture here)
Whenever a party threatens to walk out of the ruling coalition, a set of Pavlovian reflexes grip Slovenian media and political landscape. Frequency of politicos on the tube increases (and it ain’t low to begin with), everyone and his brother are playing the political puzzle, seeing if an alternative majority is possible and sitting MPs (most of them, anyway) being clamouring about how early elections are a really bad idea. Case in point being the last few days when Virant said either Janša goes or he goes.
Now, Virant often forgets to put his money where his mouth is and pengovsky will not be at all surprised if that would be the case in this particular instance as well. Three words to explain: Slovenian. Holding. Company. (SDH) The mother of all (state-owned) companies which was established without a hitch courtesy of the constitutional court needs to be populated with an 9-member supervisory board. Four members are to be appointed by the government, four by the parliament and one by the parliamentary committee on public finances. And lo-behold! Virant today called a meeting of parliamentary parties to discuss possible candidates for SDH supervisory board. So, in fact, Virant doesn’t really care a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys about whether Janša and Janković resign, but is simply trying to cash in on their current bad fix.
And the fix they’re in is pretty bad. Especially Janša, since he is the PM of a EU member state and this probably doesn’t look real good-looking from the outside in. Which is why a lot of eyebrows were raised when Janša’s office released a statement saying that the PM spoke to EU Council president Herman van Rompuy who gave Janša his support. Or, as Slovenian Press Agency (STA) tweeted:
EU President Van Rompuy expressed his personal support to PM Janša in the face of recent corruption allegations, PM's office says
— Slovene Press Agency (@STA_English) January 10, 2013
Naturally, all hell broke loose and pretty soon van Rompuy’s office said that a phone conversation has indeed taken place but that interpretation of the convo is up to those who supplies it. In other words, it did not confirm what Janša’s office said had been said. Van Rompuy phone call was probably meant to be a bitch-slap to Zoran Janković, whose Positive Slovenia is to hold a platform congress on Saturday and where Hannes Swoboda the leader of socialist parliamentary group in the European Parliament was scheduled to speak but has apparently cancelled his appearance in the face of anti-graft report on Zoki. Janša thought he’d win an easy one over Janković (after all he needs all the health-points he can get) but got busted, only deepening his troubles.
But with Virant pulling the gun, other coalition parties started drawing as well. Ljudmila Novak of NSi was quick to stand by her man, while Radovan Žerjav of SLS started temporizing. Karl Erjavec of DeSUS said that he’s cool with whatever happens which is why Janša started calling their and Virant’s bluffs saying they have until Monday to figure out whether they’re in or out of the coalition. He proceeded to add that his party will not support a technocratic government but will rather work towards early elections. Which no party really wants. Which is why nothing will come out of this one in terms of toppling the government. And although there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to heed to Janša’s deadline, junior coalition partners are apparently losing their cool and are starting to play Janša’s game. Thus, what might happen is that Janša will somehow manage to topple Virant as head of DL and have a more “cooperative” person installed as party leader. Someone like finance minister Janez Šušteršič, for example.
In a Mexican stand-off no shooter has the incentive to shoot first, since whoever does that will probably get killed as well by the third shooter in the stand-off. It seems Virant already fired his shot. Which would mean he’s the next one to go.
P.S.: President Borut Pahor still hasn’t said a word of anything substantial on the issue. Instead, he met with the new Slovenian football coach Srečko Katanec. Yay.