Earlier today Alenka Bratušek was sworn in as Slovenia’s first female Prime Minister. In what was mostly lack-luster but long (10+ hours) debate which picked up only in the latter stages, the parliament voted 55:33 to have Bratušek replace Janez Janša as head of the government. Thus Bratušek became the first woman in the history of Slovenia to have been designated PM and only second individual to have ascended to the position in a “constructive no-confidence” vote. The last time the prime minister was replaced in this particular manner was in 1992 when Janez Drnovšek replaced Lozje Peterle.
Alenka Bratušek signing her oath as PM-designate (source: rtvslo.si)
While momentous in its own right, this event is only the first step in a treacherous process of coalition negotiations between parties that have considerable history between themselves. Although technically ousted, Janša’s government remains in a caretaker role until a new government is confirmed by the National Assembly which must be done in 15 days starting tomorrow. Failing to do so in three attempts, her designation is voided and the procedure to nominate a new PM kicks is with president of the republic front and centre. In this case that would translate into early elections. And, truth be told, this is not an altogether unlikely scenario.
The key players in this particular game of political poker are Igor Lukšič‘s Social Democrats and Gregor Virant‘s Citizens’ List. While Bratušek announced that she – provided her cabinet is approved – she will seek a confidence vote in a year’s time, setting the stage for elections in early 2014, both Virant and Lukšič made noises today and in the past few days that early elections within a few months time are a viable option, especially if no deal on agenda of Bratušek government is reached.
While Virant is probably bluffing, Lukšič knows his current good fortune in the polls can not last. Also, if the SD enter the government, they will necessarily see their ratings plummet and within a year their current popularity will be but a distant memory. Therefore it is entirely possible that in the world of Slovenian cloak-and-dagger politics, Lukšič (or Virant) would engineer a disagreement which would allow them to derail coalition negotiations and still make it look as if they did everything they could. And since early elections would present Janša with a good chance for a comeback, he wouldn’t mind having them as soon as possible either.
This was the easy part, especially since even part of the SLS voted in favour of removing Janša. Hard work begins now. As of today and without SLS onboard, PM-designate Alenka Bratušek will need just about every vote she can muster and hope that (primarily) Lukšič isn’t in this simply to double-cross her at the very end.