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.