Smear Campaign

So, the second round of presidential elections is five… no… four days away and the Peterle Campaign has finally decided to hit below the belt. Namely: during Monday’s debate Lojze Peterle drew a disctinction between himself and Danilo Türk, saying that the latter was still representing Yugoslavia at UN HQ in Geneve in 1991 while he (Peterle) was among those who put their heads in a bag and went for broke during preparations for Slovene independence.

The “incriminating” document

In normal circumstances this would have been a bomb-shell… However, what Peterle and his team conveniently forgot is the fact that Slovenia was recognised by the EU on January 15th 1992 and that it became a member of the UN in June 1992.

So the fact that Türk was technically a part of Yugoslav delegation means that he was resorceful enough (and the UN permissive enough) to find a way to operate in the institution, albeit as a member of the already defunct Yugoslavia. Just to give you a comparison: foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel (whose ministry leaked the above document) attended an OSCE conference at about the same time (pre-1992) as a member of the Austrian delegation and yet I don’t see or hear anyone claiming that he – say – wanted Slovenia to become an Austrian province.

This move by Peterle carries all the trademarks of a panic-attack, not unlike the one in the final stages of municipal elections in 2006, when government of Janez Janša leaked documents supposedly damaging to the then-front-runner Zoran Janković. The documents turned out to be a load of bollocks and Janković went on to become mayor of Ljubljana with a landslide 63 percent of the vote. And those documents were much more substantial than today’s document aimed at bringing Danilo Türk down a peg or two.

While this might galvanise the nationalist element within the political right, it might blow right into Peterle’s face by getting Türk additional sympathy votes of people who don’t care about either candidate, but hate low blows. And there are a surprising number of those out there.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

6 thoughts on “Smear Campaign”

  1. some very good points written there pengovsky…It amazes me how this governmet is stupid as a government can further comment needed…

    and for mr. Peterle: suddenly he is not the easy going, loving, and a calm christian as he “was” in the first, his face on the TV looks like a face of a nazy general in a Holywood movie, viciously looking for his victim….guess that all the Vatican shit really doesn’t make you any better from the others, as they like to point out…
    One of his new statements in the second round was that he doesn’t want to talk about the past anymore, what matters is the future…well mr. Peterle, I couldn’t agree more, even Bono said in Sarajevo;”fuck the past, kiss the future”, but then he (peterle) goes and does the opposite…heh, heh, you’re digging your own election grave Peterle…

  2. You know there is some desperation when the attacks start. Do they run attack ads on tv in Slovenia like they do in North America?

    Funny though, it doesn’t seem to work very consistently, as you point out in the case of Zoki. We’ve had one politician win in a landslide due to a nasty ad campaign against him (he has a facial disfigurement because of palsy, so his opponent ran ads of him emphasizing that. Canadians weren’t pleased with such a low blow and spanked the opponent in the polls, giving him a big majority).

    On the other hand, the next PM hopeful, from the same party, succumbed to a successful PR campaign by his opponents that stated he “flip-flopped” on the war on terror. It became such a media catch phrase that his campaign was seen as “weak” and he lost, mostly because his opponents were able to characterize him in that way…as a flip flopper, even though most people couldn’t tell you what he was supposed to have “flip-flopped” on.

    Some times it works, most of the time it just shows desperation.

  3. They don’t run attack ads here. But there is a not-so-subtle difference between poinitng out your opponent’s political weakness – or even just using his bad PR moment – on one side, and plainly fabricating facts and half-truhts.

    What the attacked candidate apparently mustn’t do, is let the attacks dictate his campaing. Bot Zoki (a year ago) and Türk (these days) responded by categorical denial and then quicky moving on to other topics.

  4. Or have your team start spinning their own half truths and fabricated facts. That seems to be the current fad in NA politicking.

    re: ads (though not tv). I just remembered one from last spring in Slovenia, it was a billboard campaign against Drnovsek. A large historical photograph with him and a bunch of military guys from the Yugoslavia days. Similar sort of tactic, if I recall, to the one you mention here, though I don’t remember who had run it exactly. A media outfit or something?

  5. The important distinction here being that the negative campaign is being actively supported by the current PM and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

    As discussed, the negativity here is not aimed as much at gaining new votes as it is at motivating current supporters to get up in the morning after this very special Saturday, ignore the worst hangover they’ve had in a long time and go vote.

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