Izbrisani / The Erased

I was meaning to write up this one a while ago, but things just kept happening. Namely, The Erased, a human rights fiasco which affected almost 1% of entire Slovenian population. 18.000+ people, mostly from former Yugoslav republics, who for one reason or another failed to get their papers in order after Slovenia declared independence were removed from all official databases. They were in effect – erased.

The Erased in Brussels

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) ran a fine peice on the issue a couple of weeks ago (you really should listen to it) which gives a fair account of the issue which is – needless to say – highly divisive as the Constitutional Court has ruled in 2004 that the erasure was unconstitutional, but the parliament has failed to address the issue properly. And not just this parliament and this government. The erasure happened in 1992 and every single government since has turned a blind eye or made only a token effort to solve what was increasingly becoming a social and not just a political problem. Naturally, the government doesn’t see it this way (note that the document pre-dates Janša’s government).

Pahor And Janša Neck-And-Neck

We’ve had anohter new poll yesterday, this one done by Episcenter pollsters. This poll, still done in the days prior to Operation Clean Shovel, shows that both Social Democrats and the ruling SDS rate at 22% which is definitely bad news for Borut Pahor. The short time span in which all polls were conducted means that were are seing the same situation from different angles rather than a continuing trend, but still…


This poll is interesting for one more reason. It has the lowest percentage of undecided voters and higher percentage of decided voters for all parties except DeSUS and Zares. Now, obviously we can put that down to a slightly different sample, perhaps focusing on rural Slovenia (I’m guessing here) – especially since SLS, SNS and NSi got a substantially higher percentage than in competing polls, but it would appear that pengovsky’s previous assesment of all the smaller parties making it across the 4% treshold is probably correct. Except Lipa, which noone polls at the moment, as Sašo Peče still has to formally create a party.

Pengovsky’s projection: much like the last time around. SDS and SD will increasingly go for each other’s neck, as will probably LDS and Zares. Smaller parties are looking to make it to the parliament, if something big doesn’t happend and we don’t have a landslide victory by either of the big two. Barring that a coalition between SDS and SD looks likely to happen, but we’re still a long way from autumn.

Orlek And The Beast

The Good Doctor has yet again uncovered a gem. Apparently Slovenian minister for sports Milan Zver (literally: Milan Beast) advised against participants in 2008 Summer Olympics in China bringing up the issue of human rights.

Now, to be fair, Zver had a point. He said that athletes shouldn’t be doing the politician’s job. True. But the problem is that politicians seem reluctant to do the job, especially especially if China is an important business partner. And China is an important business partner to …. ummmm …. pretty much the rest of the world. So the politicos either keep quiet or jost go through the motions, hoping that they will not anger the Big Red Dragon, while keeping the local branch of Amnesty International at bay.

Not everyone is happy, though. Reporters without borders demanded that Slovenian government disowns Zver’s statement. But there’s no need for that. Zver already backed off, saying that he didn’t mean to pressure anybody, it just that he thinks that a boycott of the Olympics would do little good..

Which is all fine and dandy, except for two things: that he was pressuring the athletes, or was at least very much out of line – much like PM Janša was on the issue of Portugese referendum on the Lisbon Treaty – and the small fact that Zver’s original statement didn’t mention boycott at all. Which is a typical modus operandi of this administration: first they jump the gun on those who may make life unpleasant for them (like journalists signing a petition against censorhip or athletes advocating human rights) and then they claim that the other party was after something much worse (conspiring against Slovenia or advocating a boycott of the Olympics).

May opinion is that politicians, civil society, NGOs and industry should highlight violations of human right all over the world, including China. I firmly believe that a boycott of the Olympic Games is not a proper political approach in the 21st century and that sports should become the tool of intercultural dialog, co-operation and peace in the world.

(I’ve preserved the lovley typo at the begining of the quote)

And yes, if we neglect the boycott-spin, the intercultural dialog is indeed the way to go about it. Case in point being Orleki, an etno-rock-brass group from the mining town of Zagorje, which have just concluded a 14-day-tour of Beijing, celebrating the Chinese New Year, shaking a whole lot of local booty. And if you ask how come, check the video.

Pretty cool, huh? :mrgreen:

Belgium Explained To Slovenes (And Whoever Else ) In Ten Easy Lessons

He’s back, ladies and gentlemen! Dr. Arf has resurfaced to continue his legendary series about Belgium and its woes. Will Belgium disintegrate and steal the limelight from Kosovo, or will the most European of EU members get its act together and keep going? Find out in the latest installment of dr. Arf’s Belgium Explained To Slovenes (And Whoever Else ) In Ten Easy Lessons!


Yes, Dr. ARF is finally back with the concluding entries to the ?Belgium’ saga. I’ve been overcome with work lately, and there simply was no time left to write blog entries. But I know our P.’s own blog posts were interesting enough to not make you miss mine too much. 😉

Yves Leterme (source)


It’s still loads of fun here, politically speaking. Why? Because, unlike the generations preceding them, the Modern Day Elected have a really big problem with keeping their mouths shut; especially to the media. Whereas former government formation negotiations bore an uncanny resemblance to the Vatican choosing a new pope behind closed doors and with no outside communications, nowadays we find they can’t seem to leave their Blackberries and mobile phones alone. I’m amazed none of their wives (or husbands) have threatened with impending divorce yet. “You love that Blackberry more than me!!!” Oh well, in that case, our supposed new leader, Yves Leterme, still has his goat. :mrgreen: But still, how is ?ol’ Eve’ doing government wise?


Not so well, as it happens. The Walloon politicians already hated his guts and chastised his party, CD&V, every chance they got for getting together with the Flemish Nationalists of NV-A. Not only political Wallonia hated his guts, the Wallonian media liked him as much as a hole in the head, much to his chagrin. Over the course of last year’s negotiations, Leterme became known for his public chastising (we Belgians are masochists by nature, due to this age old inferiority complex) of the French speaking media. It even went so far that he berated the francophone national broadcast corporation RTBf and generally adopted an attitude of ?you’re my buddies, the only ones I can trust’ toward its Flemish counterpart, VRT; seemingly a garden of delights for our Yves in those days.

Be that as it may, the result of the negotiations was absolute zero. Sure, they had a few partial agreements, a think tank would pore its combined brain cells over the illustrious state reform in the upcoming months, but a government, or a national budget? Sorry, constituents. We’ve lost too much time bickering and whining to the press to get to that. Mea maxima culpa. NOT.

So it was off to our good king Albert II for a – I lost count – third time (cautious estimate) for another round of talks. I won’t bore you with the details, but the end of it all was that we did get a prime minister and a cabinet : Guy Verhostadt, acting PM, would continue until Easter, Match 23rd, by which time the parties who won the elections way back when (I vaguely recall it was some time in June) would have sufficient agreements to start governing. You’d think they’d all sit in silence and work towards that goal. Not so. The Flemish liberal VLD ministers are trying to enforce new elections by constantly criticizing their future government partners, especially Yves Leterme – who landed a minister post in the interim government, as well as being vice – PM – and in fact do a better job at criticizing their own government than the opposition! And of course, all negotiation partners had to honour their agreement with the press to go over the botched negotiations with a fine tooth comb. And this week, it seemed some, if not all, took that a bit too literal…


This week, the De Standaard newspaper – once upon a time the reference for conservative christian integrity and thus of christian democrat persusasion – is publishing a series about the botched government negotiations. Some tenors had already given interviews with other media, but this was different, as the newspaper had agreed with all key players to go over the whole period and give insight into the negotiations. I don’t read newspapers, so I was oblivious to the whole thing, until a massive row ensued, which had the media in uproar. Not only did the interviewed dignitaries talk about their negotiations, it also seemed they showed the journalists text messages from one politician to another, blackberry conversations and – stop the presses!!!! – literal quotes from their talks with King Albert II. Even worse, they quoted him, while he is supposed to maintain a public neutrality! The shock!! The horror!!

See, Albie said a couple of things that certain parties would take exception to, like, suggesting to Yves Leterme to cut loose NV-A, because he didn’t like them weighing on the negotiations. Much to the chagrin of said party, Ol’ Eve admitted NV-A were a millstone around his neck and would like nothing more. See, there’s a protocol for these matters, called ?Colloque Singulier’, which kind of means ?Private Conversation’. If the monarch can’t have such talks with the politicians without having them published virtually the next day, he is unable to say anything to anyone anymore, because he has to maintain said neutrality at least in public. Mark Eyskens (CD&V, retired), having been PM himself, as was his father, said in an interview these leaks were deliberate attempts to discredit the monarchy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s right, but on the other hand, I am a republican, thus have no love for it anyway.

I do, however, feel that this leaking has gone several bridges too far. If you agree to maintain silence about something, you should. Not one politician in this whole ordeal has adhered to any agreement made about the confidentiality of the negotiation talks, be it amongst themselves or with the monarch. Now, I know leaks are part and parcel of the political game, but what has transpired here of the past nine months is so out of line that it definitely hindered the government formation and we’re now having a ridiculous farce that’s called an interim government, led by the Guy who should have been the former PM by now and although the Easter date is being held up as the installment date of the ?real’ new government, the recent events clearly show that the path towards it is rocky, narrow and full of holes. Not surprisingly, Yves Leterme is being made scape (the man should stop breeding the beasties, it’s way too easy to make jokes about this :P) of the whole series in De Standaard. So much, even, that editor in chief Peter Vandermeersch had to come to his defense and state that all key players contributed to the series, so it wasn’t just Leterme who gave insight into his Blackberry records and his private talks with King Albert II.

In short, you wouldn’t believe it if you didn’t see it. Politicians, virtually rolling across the floor fighting amongst each other, in order to get the upper hand like children in a playground. And meanwhile, the country just rolls on as if it doesn’t need a government anyway. Day to day lives aren’t being affected by all this, which to some observers begs the question whether we still need a government at all. I say we do, if only to counter the outgrowths of globalized economies and a perfidious capitalist system (and no, I’m not a commie bastard; I just call it like I see it). But this is a display so shameful, I’m starting to long for the Stalinist manner of government and corrupt administration days of the 70’s and 80’s…

By the way, Yves Leterme this week said he’d find it ?uncouth’ if he wouldn’t be PM of the Easter Government. Yah, sure, Eve; whatever you say…


Largest Parties Keep Bleeding Support, Zares Loses A Third

We’ve had two new polls come in yesterday, both dealing in variety of issues – but obvioulsy support the main political parties are getting is of main interest. A poll by the Public Opinion and Mass Communication Research Centre (CJM) shows basically the same relations between Pahor’s Social Democrats (SD) and Janša’s Slovene Democratic Party (SDS) we’ve seen in Delo poll 12 days ago.


Also in accordance with Delo’s poll is the undecided column, which grew substantially. A couple of eddies are notable, though. Firstly, the relatively big drop for Zares, which seems to correspond to an increase in support for LDS – the change in both cases in exactly 3 percent. Now, this can be attributed to a different polling sample, but as CJM’s samples are notoriously accurate (most of the time, anyway), this could very well be the definite proof that these two parties are addressing basically the same voters – although Delo’s poll shows that Zares might aslo be entering SD’s turf as well. In any case, I think Zares are not particularly happy with this poll, whereas LDS shouldn’t break out the extra spam rations, as this result has yet to turn into an upward trend.

Lower on the chart, a rise in support for the nationalists (SNS), pensioners’ party (DeSUS) and predominantly catholic NSi is notable. All three parties have a difficult-to-detect base, so in reality SNS’s 6 percent means huge gains in the parliament, while DeSUS’s 3 percent also translate into comfortably making it across the 4% treshold for entering the parliament. The same goes for NSi, which cannot be exactly happy with 2 percent, but as I already noted, they might have gone below radar to regroup. According to this CJM poll, it is only Slovene People’s Party (SLS) which has to ring the alarm bells, but we’ll see what (if any) effect the Operation Clean Shovel will have on the polls. Namely CJM was polling from February 11 until February 13, missing the full blow of the operation by a day-and-a-half.

In the other corner, wearing blue shorts, is a poll by Parcifal Group (commissioned by the government, might I add), which shows a somewhat different picture. Most notably, according to this poll – a similar sample, but polled from 11 Feb until 14 Feb – the ruling SDS of Janez Janša holds a .9 percent lead over Borut Pahor‘s opposition Social Democrats, a result which is definitely going against the flow. Also, this poll shows the least support for SLS, as well as the higehst percentage of undecided voters, which strongly suggest a significantly different pattern. But although this poll was commisioned by the government, it doesn’t neceserily mean that it is wrong or rigged. It’s just – different :mrgreen:

BTW: Neither polls shows data for Sašo Peče’s Lipa – probably because the renegades of SNS have yet to formally establish a political party.

Pengovsky’s projection: Despite the different percentages, two things become obvious – that the number of undecided voters is again on the rise, which probably means that the effect of presiedntial elections is slowly wearing off, which might spell better times for Janša’s government (it recorded a mere 33% of support according to CJM poll). SD and SDS will probably continue running neck and neck, with SD slowly bleeding suporrt for the next couple of months. Who takes the top stop thus depends on whether SDS can bleed its support at a slowe pace than SD. For now that seems to be the case. Also, keep an eye on Zares. Losing a third of support is not a trivial thing, which means that voters might see this party as a sort of a refuge for disenchanted left-wing voters. Generally speaking, things are still interesting on the left side of the political spectrum, with all parties in the poll looking to make it across the 4% parliamentarian treshold.