With 52 votes in favour, government of Alenka Bratušek was sworn in yesterday evening, making the first female head of government in history of Slovenia. After ministerial nominees more or less sailed through the hearing process, the final result was more or less a foregone conclusion. The debate was lacking zest most of the time, as if the newly minted opposition was resigned to inevitability of what was to come while the freshly baked coalition was looking for ways to get it over with as soon as possible.
Bratušek again set out basic principles of the government, which will on one hand look to soften the austerity and across-the-board budget cuts and raise revenues on the other. She added her government will start a couple of key infrastructure projects (mostly transportation and energy) but also vowed to continue with the bad bank, albeit in a modified manner. The debate picked up slightly only later in the evening when MPs went head-to-head and traded a few quips and smirks. However, if the SDS a bit low on morale, the right wing press was out in full force, looking for targets of opportunity.
Blast you, Retina display!
Thus they nailed then-yet-to-be-sworn-in minister of defence Roman Jakič (PS) who was going over some correspondence on what his first order of business will be upon taking over the ministry. Jakič was reading this on his iPad and a photographer got a nice shot of the tablet’s screen and promptly plastered the hi-res photo all over their web-ring.
The minsiter-to-be was, naturally, somewhat upset and threatened to press charges (and apparently he has a case), but the real lesson here is twofold: 1) the notorious iPad glare is not to be counted upon so watch your back, and 2) if you get your hands on stuff like this, you fucking sit on it! For all their awfulness, the right-wing press had a bombshell of a story right there and then and could use the shot as corroborative evidence later on. Instead they went “ha-ha, your fly is open!” But I guess that’s the most they’ll ever be capable of. Sad, really.
Blast you, e-government!
But then again, why set up a trap for a minister of defence, when minister of infrastructure is walking around with his pants down thinking no one will notice. Namely, Igor Maher (DL) in charge of infrastructure and spatial planning was discovered to have built a cottage without permit on prime farming land. Actually, three cottages. And uprooted an olive-tree orchard in the process. The story has quite a bit of background, but it got an impetus after he had his “sheds” legalised. Funny thing is he did it only a day before he was sworn in and was only able to do it because his predecessor Zvonko Černač (SDS) signed an act allowing smaller building to be legalised en masse.
Černač’s move made landscape architects all over Slovenia go apeshit, doubly so because he passed the decree a month or so ago, in his caretaker capacity. Obviously Černač is now pleading ignorance, saying the act was not intended to be used in this manner, but that’s pure bullshit. You see, Slovenia is teeming with “cottages” (often houses with all the amenities) built on prime farmland, even though this is a big no-no from a legal point of view. And you can be sure plenty of people were mighty interested in having this decree enacted.
Obviously it’s a bit of a credibility problem if a minister in charge of spatial planning owns an illegally built cottage. Doubly so if he had it legalised in what was for all intents and purposes was abuse of power (or attempted abuse of power, since the said decree was amended, effective yesterday). But to have it legalised on the last possible day (the day before yesterday) and by an administrative unit headed by your friend is either moronic or arrogant. Or both.
But Maher nailed the last nail in the coffin of his (presumably) short-lived ministerial career himself. He said that he bought the land with buildings already on it. Cue some ingenious use of historic orthographic data, showing the before/after pictures and it turned out Maher was full of shit. Which is why he is reportedly this close to being forced to resign. Who says e-government doesn’t work?! 🙂
Characteristically, his party chief Gregor Virant is playing it long, saying he needs a days or two do weigh his options, but it seems highly improbable that Igor Maher will celebrate Easter in his ministerial capacity. It is kind of ironic that it would be Virant, the guy who started the political downfall of Janez Janša, would trip over his legs five minutes into the new government. But then again, this is not a first for Virant.
And like that, he’s gone…
Speaking of Janez Janša, the transfer of office took place earlier today, with former PM losing all sense of reality by saying that his government achieved 150% of what they set out to do, leaving a billion euro surplus. Pink fluffy ponies died while he spoke, but hey…
But the real whooper came yesterday and was confirmed today: upon leaving the office of PM, Janez Janša will not be re-taking his seat in the parliament and will forfeit ex-MP benefits. Additionally, he will not be seeking employment within the party, choosing to lead it on volunteer basis.
Yes, you read it right: Janez Janša, the top-tier Slovenian politician who in the face of the anti-graft report claimed he is worth EUR 300.000 at best, most of that in (mortgaged) real estate and with another kid on the way, will not seek employment. SDS issued a statement saying he will do lecture tours and serve as advisor to various governments, but somehow I don’t see the phone going off the hook for an ex-PM of a country found by the IMF to have entered a downward spiral.
Odds are, he is is doing that to avoid further inquiries since the anti-graft commission can not investigate private citizens, but for the first time in twenty years, Janez Janša is going off the grid. That in itself is news, how little or how long it may last.
But remember: the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled, was convincing the world he didn’t exist…