Photos don’t necessarily correlate with the events (source, source, source and source)
Not a good week for Prime Minister Janez Janša, this one was (mmmmm, like master Yoda, I sound). It all began with the much advertised sale of 49% of the national telecom Telekom Slovenije going down the drain, as it turned out that both remaining contenders were going to perform some financial mumbo-jumbo in order to cough up enough dough. UK/German fund Bain Capital & Axos Capital & BT was going to take out a loan, securing it with Telekom’s shares, while Iceland-based Skipti wanted Telekom to buy a part of Skipti first, after which Skipti would by the 49% of Telekom. Slovenian People’s Party (SLS) went apeshit over it and threatened to leave the ruling coalition – grief Janša doesn’t need in the middle of EU presidency. Obviously, noone really thinks that SLS cares a pair of fetid dingo’s kindeys about who owns Telekom Slovenije (as long as the party has some say in it), but this was just too good of an opportunity for scoring cheap political points to miss. And SLS needs all the points it can get.
But that was just the start. On Tuesday, news broke that Croatian authorities auctioned off a piece of land which lies in the disputed border zone near Sečovlje. This small fleck of land is crucial to Slovenian claims to free exit to international waters and is claimed both by Slovenia and by Croatia – the latter being slightly more sucessful in this enterprise. Four years ago, in another pre-election stunt, this was the same spot where then president of SLS Janez Podobnik (now minister of enviromet) was arrested and roughed up by Croatian police for crossing the border illegaly (unfortunatelly, he was later released). In any case: Croatian authorities sold the land that Slovenia claims as its own and the government was caught with its pants down. Prime minister Janša can’t exactly send in the troops to reclaim the land, although we know from previous experiences that the though has crossed his mind. It’s that darn EU presideny again! So much for the hailed Janša-Sanader agreement and “protection of the motherland”.
Also on Tuesday, reports came in on Janša’s personal secretary confabulating with one of the protagonists of Operation Clean Shovel. And while this personal secretary claimed that the matter of building a new control tower in Ljubljana Int’l reached “the president himself”, JJ moved quickly to deny any such inuendo. But, the damage is done.
And to add insult to injury, on Wednesday, Tomaž Žibret – the eight and last person to have been detained during Operation Clean Shovel – was released from detention, slowing the pace of the investigation and bringing the possibilities of a quick wrap-up of the case to a complete zero (detention can only be extended if important new evidence is found or a danger exists for the accused to tamper with the evidence).
At least, in this case, SLS had nothing to do with it. We’ll see if any of the above reflect on JJ’s ratings.
Oh, and Slovenia recognised Kosovo yesterday.
The control tower that will not be
According to this story by Dnevnik, Operation Clean Shovel took a slight turn for the unexpected. Namely, one of the accused, Vegrad CEO Hilda Tovšak is said to have spoken to a personal secretary of Prime Minister Janez Janša who supposedly assured her that the deal for the new 100 metre high control tower at Ljubljana Airport (wiretaps confirming fixing the result of the tender for the project lead up to arrests) would go to her company and that the PM was in the know.
Now, this may all be nothing, but this personal secetary (who is personal secretary to the prime minister no more, mind you) is a son of a prominent SDS supporter and an occasional golfing partner to the PM which puts Janez Janša dangerously close to the whole thing. Could it be that he will be the one getting hit on the back with a clean shovel?
Delo ran a new poll yesterday, a month since pengovsky started following polls prior to autumn parliamentary elections. This poll is the first one done in a post-Clean Shovel enviroment and in this respect it is mildly surprising, to say the least.
Namely, there is no visible effect of the pre-dawn raids on construction powerplayers and supposed tax-evaders. What we are seeing, though, is a substaintial headway Zares seems to have made over LDS. How or why this happened is at this point a bit of a mistery – unless you are willing to subscribe to the theory that a battle for the legacy of the late Janez Drnovšek just ensewed and Zares won the first round.
In the duel between SD and SDS, things are interesting as well. As noted already, there was no spectacular gain on the part of SDS which we might be able to attribute to Operation Clean Shovel. So the rise in support for SDS can be considered “organic” in my view. The PM is on the news a lot lately (presiding the EU and all) and correspondingly the frequency of Borut Pahor seeing himself on the telly has fallen dramatically – there is only so much politics you can squeeze in the main news bulletin 🙂 On the other hand, Social Democrats are still bleeding support. Not at an alarming rate anyhow, but their strategists should not worry about their losses, but about gains SDS has made. Namely: if we took only Delo’s polls of yesterday and of a month ago, we see that SDS made substantial gains while SD kept on losing, even though it still kept the top spot.
Finally, we can now take a look at the entire month of February. As polls were made by different pollsters on different samples, the graph below is not exactly accurate, but it can give you a general idea of what is going on: SDS and SD continue breathing down each other’s necks, while the rest of the political gang fight for the leftovers – but there’s enough of that to go around as even those parties which are currently below the parliamentary treshold (the red dashed line) will – as things stand now – make it across to the safe territory. A notable exception to the rule is Zares, which pushed ahead of the “general populatation” and is loitering a coupe of percentage points above the rest of the parties, but is far far below the leading duo.
Pengovsky’s projection: I think we might still get to see a slight bump in SDS’s ratings as a result of the anti-corruption sweep, but it will not last long. But barring a major embarasment, the rise in support of the ruling party will continue, at least as long as the EU presidency lasts. Then the shit will hit the fan, and it the race will go down to the wire. Until then, however, the nine political parties (Lipa included, as it was formarlly established on Saturday) will want to secure the best possible starting positions.