House of Cards: Janković Splits Party, Janša Guilty As Charged

Janez Janša is guilty as charged. This, apparently is the ruling of the Higher Court in the Patria case. The verdict of the district court was thus confirmed as was the two-year prison sentence against Janša.


Together with Janša, Tone Krkovič and Ivan Črnkovič saw their prison sentences (twenty-two months each) confirmed as well. Walter Wolf fled Slovenia presumably to Canada with an APB issued against him while Jože Zagožen passed away before trial concluded.

Janša maintains the whole thing was a show-trial and a political set-up (he would, wouldn’t he?), but fact of the matter is that at this stage Janša has to serve his sentence even if he files an appeal with the Supreme Court.

It’s a conspiracy (again)!

Granted, for sentences under three years, prison can be commuted for community work or “weekend-prison” where the convict spends only weekends in prison while going about his daily life during the week, but the point is the leader of the opposition is guilty as charged. At least as far as regular courts are concerned.

This of course puts an entirely different perspective on the prospect of early elections which as little as two days ago Janša welcomed warmly and teased the ruling (ex-)coalition that it wouldn’t dare call them. Now, with him being charged, tried and convicted, things don’t look all that well. In fact, the prospect of him called to serve the sentence while campaigning is, well, undesirable.

Janša, obviously, puts it all down to conspiracy, saying Milan Kučan is behind all of it, including the drive to early elections…

…although he himself favourited elections and a change of the voting system as late as Friday night when results of Bratušek/Janković fight came in

On that note, since Berufsverbot was not part of the sentence, there is no law to prevent Janša from running in the next parliamentary elections, get elected and see his mandate confirmed. Which means that even if he is denied a commuted sentence, we are liable to see him roll around in the media for the forseeable future. The law only kicks in after his (hypothetical) election when a provision kicks in, stripping elected officials of their office if they’re convicted to more than six-months prison sentence.

But hey, you can always count on president Borut Pahor to do what’s best for Janša. Namely, only hours before news of the verdict broke, Pahor said, responding to situation in Positive Slovenia going tits-up that “things were still salvageable”. While Pahor probably didn’t play this one to please Janša, the move reeks of his inability to face the reality in 2011 when his own government was crumbling at lightning speed while he maintained everything was going to be OK. We all know how that ended.

Positive schism

Because early elections are virtually a given as of Friday when Zoran Janković ousted Alenka Bratušek as chief of Positive Slovenia. Jay-Z’s return to the helm caused a deep rift within the party and prompted a string of high-profile walk-outs, more or less splitting the party in half.

Specifically, this now means that the party as such is pitted against its parliamentary group, majority of which support Bratušek. Speculation is rife about what the PM is about to do, but it seems inevitable that she will tender her resignation in a day or so. This means she would continue as PM in a caretaker role until a new government is sworn in and since there is plenty to be taken care of, little would change in the short-term. But since yields on Slovenian bonds are already shooting up courtesy of political volatility, elections should be called as soon as possible.

Because the other scenario, of Alenka Bratušek forming a new party and having most of PS MPs cross over thus forming a new, albeit weaker majority with existing coalition parties is simply ludicrous. Not only would this mean she would be ruling with a single-vote majority or even a minority government, but would also make her look as if she’s attempting a Pahor-like hold on to power and make lose what little credibility she accumulated over the last year or so.

As for Zoran Janković, he will undoubtedly start to reaffirm his grip on the party with lightning speed and deal with those who turned their backs on him one way or another. However, Janković paid a steep price for his victory on Friday. Among people who supported Bratušek are at least two of his city councilmen/women, namely Maša Kociper and Jani Möderndorfer. While there is no automatism, since PS was formed after Janković and his “Zoran Janković List” won a second term in Ljubljana, the soured (severed?) relations might very well mean that Janković is down to a single-vote majority in the city council.

If more people quit, mayor Janković might suddenly find himself looking for a (temporary) coalition to pass city ordnances. Six, nay, five months before local elections the price-tag for this one might be substantial.

Suddenly, it all comes crashing down

Within a matter of days, things in Slovenia went from fairly predictable to complete flux. Alenka Bratušek and Zoran Janković are meeting with MPs and the party executive council respectively, on what to do next, while Janša is scheduled to address the media on the verdict tomorrow. Also tomorrow Bratušek is scheduled to meet with president Pahor and resign as prime minister.

Francis Underwood once said that nothing is permanent. Houses of cards eventually do come down.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

13 thoughts on “House of Cards: Janković Splits Party, Janša Guilty As Charged”

  1. … I have started to dread all those mornings when my local radio wakes me up claiming”Neuwahlen in Slowenien” and mentioning Jankovic in the same sentence with an assortment of crimes, pronouncing his name correctly because of so much practice …

    (nope, there’s no solace in having the same Chancellor for what feels like decades, it’s only I dislike deja vus first thing in the morning … 🙂

    But who would have thought that Jansa … wow.

  2. You mean, who would have thought Janša finally made the news in Germany or that they pronounced his name correctly? 😀

  3. Well, no: Janša didn’t make it to Germany 🙂 I read about that on your blog and wondered … I thought he was invincible. But then, a Swedish expert on this stuff said (somewhere) about the Patria affair in Slovenia that the company should have bribed the opposition as well (something about that being the “standard procedure”) … 🙂

  4. For a long time now, I’ve wondered why Pengovsky is so consistently hostile toward Janša. Since the reason is probably lost in the mists of time, I’m still wondering.

    Granted, Janša’s crying wolf so often has damaged or completely trashed his credibility, but on the other hand the evidence (or at least very strong and persistent rumours and some supposedly reliable information from the Corruption Commission, e.g., Janković’s unexplained 2.4 million euros and the flow of Stožice money through Grep) of corrupt loans, management buyouts, the sale of political favours, UDBA connections, banker-oligarch loan agreements, records on informers or other participation in Communist crimes such as the postwar slaughters of anti-Communists, Goli Otok, and so on, and the direct political and financial tracks or connections that can be traced from pre-independence politicians and favoured company directors to today’s power brokers such as Kučan and his (previous?) proteges such as Janković, the oligarchs who built rich houses and foreign bank accounts while letting the companies they were gifted with or managed to acquire go to the dogs, and the apparent lack of any investigations never mind trials that end up with jail time or confiscations of anyone who hasn’t threatened to expose the gravy train or fallen out of favour (Bavčar and Šrot?) should indicate to Pengovsky that, horror of horrors, Janša might just be correct.

    So, while I truly enjoy Pengovsky’s sarcastic reviews of current events and political games, I’m beginning to wonder if he’s not just a “pressure valve” for the entrenched powers that be. Freedom of speech allows us to complain in public, but since no action is taken by independent police or court authorities, free speech is no threat whatsoever to those holding the reins of power but provides the masses with the appearance of liberty. Find a literate and (I assume) respected journalist to write clever and nasty comments about politicians and selected villains and everyone reads them and thinks, “Oh, look how free we are now!” and switches to CSI Miami or NCIS.

    I’m sure I will continue to enjoy Pengovsky’s sniping at Pahor, Zoki, Bratušek, and the rest of the clowns before I turn on “Big Bang Theory,” but I wish he would stop shooting the messenger and start looking more closely at the message. In the meantime, Pengovsky as part of the bread and circuses provided by powers that be for those who enjoy thinking they know what’s going on makes for an interesting conspiracy theory to counter his incessant anti-Janša crusade, doesn’t it?

  5. Yes, that’s right. I am, in fact, a stooge for the powers that be.

    Not only that. I get my blogposts already pre-written, I just enter the occasional expletive.

    And there are, in fact, two kinds of police and judicary in this country: the communist kind, which only pick on Janša, and the independent kind, which do nothing but twiddle their thumbs.

    And there is indeed a communist conspiracy that runs this country. Because the Patria Affair can not in all honesty be understood unless one takes into account the repression of the socialist regime and post-war crimes.

    Dude, really… Do me a favour. At least *try* to use the search function on this blog before you drop a comment.

    Oh, and if I were you, I’d really update my choice of TV series. NCIS? Come on… 😀

  6. Ah, the truth is out; I believe you absolutely! Very clever to admit it in a sarcastic context so no one will ever be sure . . .

    “Pre-written,” however, is a blatant falsehood since you’re obviously smart enough to write your own material that will meet the “penetrating but harmless” criterium of your masters. Except for the too often repeated “fetid dingo scrotum sweat” that possibly reflected a period of mental stagnation (or a sex tour of Australia that impressed you immensely).

    And, sadly, two kinds of press as well: the POST-communist kind, which only pick on Janša, and the independent kind, which do nothing but twiddle their thumbs.

    I wouldn’t say a Communist conspiracy runs the country, and it may not even be a conspiracy in the sense of planned moves or events. Former Communists who simply enjoy having power and money, many or even most of whom were probably Communists in name only (CINO’s?) in order to acquire positions, power, and money in the old days, are now gung-ho capitalist wheelers and dealers trying to keep and increase what they’ve acquired. They just got their start on the back of the old system after eliminating threats like Kramberger along the way. Does anyone really believe the government helicopter could make it to the scene within twenty minutes if it hadn’t been fueled up and waiting for the call with passengers loaded in advance? It probably would have taken the Interior Minister of the day that long to button his shirt and zip his fly!

    Yeah, it’s hard to sort out the background for the Patria thing, isn’t it? How about non-Socialist parties being crushed by the financial power of the “new” socialists desperately trying to find money anywhere they could? Stupid move, of course, but perhaps a reasonable risk under the circumstances. I do agree, though, that linking Patria that far into the past is stretching more than a bit and has certainly contributed to the “crying wolf” aspect of the Janša saga. I suppose everyone has their obsessions, and his seems to be Communist crimes between 1945 and 1991. Possibly a family thing, as with many families who weren’t on the correct side after the war. Unfortunately, due to the demographics, few Slovenes under the age of fifty, or possibly even older, give a shit about events before 1991, so he’s beating a dead horse over and over and over again instead of concentrating on exposing provable modern corruption.

    Not sure what you want me to search, I read the Pahor page and I do follow most of your links regularly—though I still haven’t found the reason for your incessant hostility toward Janša, though admittedly he appears annoyingly arrogant and know-it-all at times. Again, though, it still seems to present a messenger-message separation problem. Please list relevant posts you’d like me to review.

    Re NCIS: What’s even worse is that Croat tv, which is all I can get for free in my little corner of Slovenia, is currently rerunning the first or second season, pre-Ziva times with Kate before she gets shot! Tony is an even worse a-hole than I remembered!

  7. P.S. I don’t know how to use emoticons, so mentally add smiley icons everywhere if you need help identifying irony . . .

  8. I believe the phrase you’re looking for is “not worth a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys”. Which more or less describes your train of thought with regard to my person, too. So much for shooting the messenger.

    Stay cool and learn to use emoticons.

  9. (politics is not a place to be, remain or become a good person AND once you are discovered/deemed to be/singled out for being nasty, you can preach what you like and display the highest morals possible (verbally), you will always remain suspicious)

  10. OK, enough shooting the messenger, at least by me. I did actually—foolish me—think I was following the message rather than the messenger, except for the dig regarding the fetid kidneys period, and that was mainly for fun and to demonstrate I’d been using the search function. If I didn’t enjoy and pretty much trust your observations of the Slovene political scene, I wouldn’t bother pointing out the possibility that dislike of the messenger could be colouring your analyses. But then again, I’m obviously one of the do-nothing cynical observers so beloved by the oligarchs who carry on ummoved by revelations of nasty behaviour in the press, as delightfully juicy to read as they may be.

    alcessa: What “one” is simple? That heavy Minima Moralia tome is a lot to plow through to figure out what you mean. If your note was meant for me—and excuse me if it wasn’t—please let me know if there’s a particular chapter I should read. Thanks!

  11. And sadly both Janša and Janković “will always remain suspicious.”
    I think the difference between the two is that Janša actually started out honest and well-intentioned and fell into corrupt paths (possibly) due to his growing political power and influence as well- or less well-intentioned advisors and associates put forward political and business deals that supposedly would benefit the country or themselves and were superficially legal though questionable morally—or he just had a really sloppy accountant who mislaid a hundred grand or so.
    Janković, on the other hand, was apparently gifted with Mercator via a company loan self-funded management buyout scheme in spite of a record of incompetence at the companies he’d previously managed or “directed” as a reward for his loyalty. I’m pretty sure his management record is in the public domain, Mladina, Reporter, et al., if anyone cares to look. Hence, the Grep deals and the 2.4 unexplained (or unconvincingly explained or impossible now to be convincingly explained according to alcessa’s observation) million euros are just the current stage in a traceable pattern of corruption that began before 1991—if anyone has the stamina, courage, and resources to trace it.
    But we all love a villain, I suppose, especially a successful one if we aren’t directly or personally affected. Just be careful if you plan to invest or start a business in Ljubljana without the blessing of Forum 21 and/or City Hall!

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