As the parliament started its weekly session today and is preparing for tomorrow’s vote on Janez Janša’s PM bid, the soon-to-be-ex foreign minister Miro Cerar announced he is leaving the SMC, the party that he formed back in 2014 and that for a while bore his name.
In a strongly-worded statement Cerar said this is no longer his party, nor is this the party he formed and added it had lost all credibility. Taking a direct swipe at the party’s MPs, he said that they “forgot who elected them“.
It will come as a shock to exactly no-one that Cerar is no longer slated to take over as Speaker.
Thus, Miro Cerar’s foray into politics seems to be coming to a close. He indicated that even if he were to return to the parliament as an MP, he would do so only temporarily, while he coordinates his return to the Ljubljana Faculty of Law.
The layers to Cerar’s jumping SMC ship are many.
First and foremost, the symbolic act of the party founder and -as of late- honorary president leaving the firm is devastating. For Cerar, for the SMC, and for its current leader Zdravko Počivalšek.
For Cerar, the fact that despite a record-breaking victory in 2014, avoiding a complete rout in 2018, and landing a prestigious gig in the outgoing Šarec government, he is basically admitting defeat and exiting the stage.
The new party leader Zdravko Počivalšek can’t be too happy with this turn of events, either. He floated the idea of Cerar taking over as Speaker, no doubt in an attempt to appease those party members who are none too happy with SMC joining the Janša and to add legitimacy to a politically questionable move.
This has now fallen through and while one can argue that SMC made a complete transition from the Cerar to the Počivalšek era and is now arguably a centre-right party , it also severed all ties with the roots of its success, casting its future even more in doubt. The fact that, like Cerar, Počivalšek doesn’t really ooze charisma, doesn’t help.
On another level however, Cerar’s move doesn’t dramatically change the calculus for tomorrow’s vote on Janez Janša’s premiership. The Glorious Leader is still poised to be confirmed as PM with about 50 votes.
The caveat here, of course is that the vote is by secret ballot and that Janša cannot really be sure of the outcome until the results are in.
Cerar today came on really strong in chastising those SMC MPs (that is, the entire parliamentary group bar one) who opted to support Janša’s coalition and made a thinly veiled attempt at inciting rebellion within the MPs’ ranks. But as that is likely to produce zero result, the former SMC leader openly called for membership to leave the party en masse if, or rather when, the SMC MPs cast their votes in Janša’s favour. It remains to be seen whether the move gets any traction whatsoever.
Interestingly enough, and as a sidenote, Alenka Bratušek’s SAB parliamentary group decided not to partake in the vote at all. This is following some noises SAM MP Marko Bandelli made in favour of a Janša government which prompted many a speculation that he is going to cross the aisle. Officially, SAB wants to make sure there is no speculation of one of theirs supporting Janša, but just as likely they reached an internal compromise to make sure not one of their supports Janša (even if it means not voting against).
At any rate, the one person who can arguably be happy with this turn of events is Jani Möderndorfer.
The SMC MP who replaced Cerar was the only one against joining Janša’s coalition. As per pengovsky’s last post:
(…) if Cerar decides to return to parliament as an MP, he will oust Jani Moderndorfer who was his replacement MP and whom pengovsky once dubbed The Great Survivor of Slovenian politics. I guess his number is about to come up, although he may yet live to see another day should Cerar decide that he will not be mixing with the parliamentary plebs.
The Great Survivor apparently is about to get an extended lease on his political life. At the very least, he gets to decide how and when to call it quits.
Which, in this day and age, can be considered a luxury.