The Luck Of The Irish

Despite being cautiously pro-European (mostly for geopolitical reasons, but that the way things are), I must say I’m kind of glad the Irish voted against the Lisbon treaty. The European Union has around half a billion citizens, and yet a mere 800.000 votes brought the Lisbon treaty to a grinding halt. And while one may argue that this is a case of a minority imposing its will on the majority, I think it atcually shows that democracy in the EU – for all its failings – is alive and well.

Ireland votes NO (source)

Think about it. The way things stand now, the EU is still nothing more than a association of nation states (although a very closely bound one). Member states have not relinquished its their sovereignity, but have opted to excercise it via a common political entity which goes by the name of the EU. However, this does not – should not – preclude the right of every member state to excercise its sovereignity in full as it sees fit. And if the Irish constitution calls for a referendum of any and all matters of international association, then so be it.

Furthermore, the initial statemets of a number of European politicians – including the man who happens to be my prime minister – show that Irish “no” was a much needed reality-check which hopefully burst the bubble of “planned democracy” the EU and indeed most member states are infested with. It is one thing to know the result of a political proces in advance due to predictability of political players and factors, it is however quite another to devise ways and means which only keep the illusion of the decision-making process as being democratic, where in reality there is only one “acceptable” decision.

Most European leaders, shocked by the fact that the Celtic Tiger gave them the finger, said that “they expect the ratification process to go forward“. Janez Janša (presiding over the EU for 14 more days and counting) even said that the Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen will “explain the reasons for this outcome“.

Waddafuckyoumean go forward and will explain??? As far as I know the Irish government stated beforehand that there will be no re-run on the referendum, so the “no” is final. There’s nothing to go forward to and nothing to explain. Secondly: True, none of them forgot to add that the democratic decisions must be respected, but… There shouldn’t be any “buts” here. Are EU leaders trying to say that there are referendums that count and referendums that don’t? When France and The Netherladns rejected the European Constitution, everybody went “That’s it! Game over!” and now when Ireland said no, they’re trying to pretend it didn’t happen?

I realize that a lot of work has been put into the Lisbon treaty and I’m convinced that it is a good treaty and that it would benefit both the EU and member states including Ireland. It would also allow expansion of EU to include Balkan states and finally Turkey (both of which are a must). There are, however, no shortcuts. If this treaty went down badly in Ireland, imagine what the result of such a referendum would be in France or the UK, or any other “old” member state, whose people have long ago fallen out of love with the EU. Even worse, imagine that the Irish are somehow coerced into ratifying the treaty, which is followed by quick accession of Balkan states into the EU in the next ten years. How on Earth will you explain to the people that Macedonia and Bosnia-Herzegovina must become members if you can’t even properly explain why a simple treaty is a good thing?

The rejection of the Lisbon treaty by Ireland is the best thing that could have happened to the EU at this moment. Not because it slowed the process of enlargment (that’s bad), but because it showed that a lot must be done on the home front as well. Perhaps starting to rebuild trust between the citizens of existing member states and their elected officials might be a good way to go about it. Once that is achieved, a lot more faith will be put into politicians’ abilities to tackle “big issues” as well.

Slovenia once was a member of a multinational super-state. As time progressed it was coerced more and more into decisions it didn’t want to take. And then one day it walked out. Perhaps unbeknownst to them, the EU leaders are making the very same mistake Yugoslav leaders did some 25+ years ago. Back then noone really believed that anyone would leave the federation. And today noone really belives anyone will leave the Union. History, however, has a nasty tendency to repeat itself at the hands of those who forget it.

Election Day / Long Hot Summer

The Prez yesterday signed an order declaring parliamentary elections are to be held on Sunday, September 21st. While the date is not all that suprising – elections must be held no earlier than 60 days before the end of the four-year-term of the Parliament and no later than fifteen days before – it is the last possible date for elections due to the fact that post-election procedures must be completed before the current parliament’s term ends on October 23rd. after – it is a slight deviation from the usual interval od early October to mid-November. In 2004 elections were held on October 3rd, four years before on October 15th.

Contrary to the deleted text it turned out this morning that the September date is the normal order of things, since every election cycle the elections were held some 10-12 days prior to the previous election date, with the sole aim of the new Parliament convening before the previous Parliament’s term ends, thus insuring a smooth transition from one parliament to the other without any constitutional hickups such as a non-existing parliament. As a result, this year’s elections are being held in summer already.

This is how it looked like:

The efects of having 21 september as Election Day are many. For starters, it means that what is promising to be a heated, bloody and viscious campaing with a lot punches below the belt will be over by the time the sun is still high up in the sky and that the proverbial “Hot Political Autumn” (a classic of Slovene journailsm) will actually be a Long Hot Summer, as the campaign will officialy start on August 21st, just at people will slowly start returning from the holidays and start worrying about getting their kids all the school gear necesary and will end on the last day of summer.

Secondly, moving up the election schedule means that the government will have a little less time to bask in the glory of the EU presidency, which admittedly turned sour late in the game on the account of the Irish no (a post on this was scheduled for today, but is rescheduled for tommorow). Alternatively, if things went really bad for the government – a bursting real-estate bubble, increasing oil prices, incompetent ministers, – having elections a week or two earlier might be a good thing, as it will considerably shorten the time-frame avaliable to the opposition for attakcing the government.

And thirdly, Borut Pahor will have a nice natural tan he’ll be working on entire summer. :mrgreen:

So, there you have it. The date is set, the clock is ticking (on this blog as well, see the sidebar) and the intricacies of Slovene electoral system will be exlpained in one of the upcoming posts.

And finallly, a couple of matching videos: Long Hot Summer starring Paul Newman and Election Day by Arcadia

EDIT: It turns out that I’m not the only one who cannot the grip of electoral date mathematics 😀 Todays’s Dnevnik ran a story whose title reads “85 days till elections“. As you can see on your left, elections are due in ninety-six days 😉

Janez Škof On Slovenia

Janez Škof is an exceptional Slovenian actor who can say a thing or two about Slovenes and this nation’s proverbial small-mindedness and self-importance. But there are ways to go about it and then there are ways to go about it, if you catch my meaning. Janez Škof captured this in an intro to a song about “human fish”, which was gold at first and – according to the song – only became after it bit half an arse off a young beauty. But this is Slovenia, and in Slovenia some things are more important than others 🙂 Enyoj – I hope the lyrics are audiable.

Ladies and germanies! Welcome to Slovenia! Slovenia is very, very, very, very… small country. But there are very very very very high mountayns! Very white in the wintertime, with a lot of highland anim-als, who… which are making stinking of them! Yes!

But this is not most important! Maybe it is most important that in Slovenia we has also very big and very.. dark… woods. Very geen woods…. Sherwoods with a lot of lubadars inside… and a specially kind of Slovenian borelian klop..

But it is nots most important!!! Maybe it is most important than in Slovenia we has also the coast! Yes! We have our own part of the coast, which is… ummmm…. ummmm… attaching to our sea. Because our sea is Adriatic Slovenian sea. It is through Croatiaian directily connected to the biggest oceans in the world! Yeees!

But it is not the most important. Maybe it is most important that everywhere, everywhere in Slovenia you can find little holes… And if you find the hole you have to start to dig. And if you dig, dig, dig, dig, dig enough, you come to bigger hole. And if you dig, dig, dig, dig again, you come to the biggest hall… Jamagrotecave… Very dark inside. Very spooky.

There is the lake, there is some very natural Slovenian spring water. And it that springy Slovenian natur-el water, without any bubbles. There is really one very special anim-al. And she is da fish. But she is not a normal fish. Because she is da human fish. And this is da story about how human fish become human fish…

I added the transcription, because Disablez and venerea pointed out that a lot of the lyrics are muffled. Just some pointers: “Lubadar” is “mountain pine beetle”, “klop” is a “tick” and Jamagrotecave is a local joke about Postojnska jama (Postojna cave), where every road sign said “Jama – Grotte – Cave”, and when kids read the road signs, everyone naturally said “jamagrotecave”

Laura Non C’e

Today’s post is not strictly politics, but as it relates to yesterday’s pit stop by George, Jr. I hope you’ll forgive me. The lighter side of presidential summits can sometimes be quite intreaguing and almost funny. In absense of any real news, the government PR people have released the summit menu, for guys and gals alike. Therefore you can sleep in peace knowing that George, Janez and Jose yesterday had Istrian proscutto with green asparagi and was able to wash it down with a glass of Rebula white wine, but…. C’mon, people! George is a reformed alcocholic! He shouldn’t be allowed within 50 feet of a bottle! Ferfuckssake! What were you thinking! George and wine make for a bad time :mrgreen:

The Prez and The Other Prez put their glasses on to read the fine print of the first Slovene Bible (photo: BOBO)

But at least the presents were chosen a bit more carefully. JJ gave the man a state-of-the-art mountain bike which go for a nifty 4k euros a piece which will surely come in handy when George will be doing circles at his Crawford ranch. And when he’s not herding cows, giving speeches or whatever it is former presidents with a ranch do, he’ll be able to contemplate reading a facsimile of the first Holy Bible in Slovene language printed in 1584 by Slovenian protestant intelectual Jurij Dalmatin, which – in all honesty – is quite a beautiful present. It would, however, be even more appropriate if the man were presented with a fascimile of Catechism or Abecedarium by Primož Trubar, the first and second book in Slovene language ever (1550s), especially because Slovenia celebrated 500 years since Trubar’s birth only a day earlier. Wouldn’t that be something? You just threw a big party for the first ever book in your language and the Big Kahuna misses the show by a couple of hours, but you are still able to present him with a copy of your object of celebration. Apparently not all the dogs are barking at the Protocol of the Republic of Slovenia.

But OK, enough bitching and smartassing about it. The guy and his woman were here, they talked the talk and walked the walk. And how did the whole thing look like at street level? Here’s Laura Bush’s motorcade in downtown Ljubljana as shot by yours truly yesterday morning. With a bit of a musical background, naturally 🙂

Dubya’s In Town

George W. landed at Ljubljana Int’l hours ago for the EU-US summit which is by a curious twist of fate hosted by Slovenia. From a political point of this is actually a non-event, which happens at more or less regular intervals. This is emphasised by the fact that George a lame-duck by now as most of the free world as well as the remains of the axis of evil are looking all the way to November to see whether it’ll be a maverick or a brother running the show.

Air Force One lands at Ljubljana Int’l (source)

As noted yesterday, though, Dubya in Slovenia means some great photo-ops, not to mention a possible bump in the polls for the ruling clicque (and I use the term in the most pejorative way possible). The protocol of the event is rather complicated, though. Officially, Dubya is attending the EU-US summit, which means that he will be hosted by the current President of the European Council who in this case doubles as the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia. Janez Janša, naturally 🙂 However, George Jr. will be co-hosted by Jose Manuel Barosso, the President of the European Commission who doesn’t double at all 😉 Additionally, however, as the event will be taking place in Slovenia, our Prez insisted on meeting with the other Prez and this wish was dully granted. It must be noted that the powers of the US president are in effect those of Slovenian President and Prime Minsiter combined (now you know what Janša is after :)), therefore only a meeting with both the Prez and the PM creates a balance between both delegations. Add to this the loitering Barosso, to whom Janša is superior in terms of protocol during the presidency and you’ve got yourself an all-aces poker hand.

All fine and and dandy so far? A bit complicated, but not all that much, no? No. Unfortunatelly, things got sour with the presidential biotches. A small cat-fight erupted between the PM’s and the President’s cabinets as to which babe will host Laura Bush. Will it be the President’s wife or the Prime Minister’s fiancee? Or perhaps just Ms. Barosso? For a while it seemed that Doc Urška prevailed, but Laura showed up a day early and did some sighseeing on her own, without Janša’s babe holding her hand and today, as the official progamme start, Laura will be hosted by all three ladies.

But don’t get overexcited… Yes, some lucky tourist might have caught a glimpse of Laura having a look into the Franciscan church in downtown Ljubljana, but in reality such summits are about as interesting and glamorous as a cold cow turd on a bad hair day. Believe me, I’ve seen it first hand.

I covered the Bush-Putin meeting in Slovenia in 2001 and I can tell you that covering the US President (especially this president, I would imagine) is shit. If you’re not exactly a member of the White House Press Corp, you cannot even come close to the guy let alone ask him for a statement. The journalistic flock is kept somewhere in the back, major networks do get their own (pre-approved) space, whereas photographers and cameramen are put on a podium which is naturally too small and once Air Force One starts its descent (somewhere above München, probably) you cannot leave the podium. Which is fucked, because you’ll naturally have to take a leak at that precise moment. And as you try to go to give your Johnson a good handsake, darkness falls upon you and looking up you realize that you’ve bumped into a 7-foot tall Secret Service agent who immediately shows you back to your place. Your bladder goes apeshit, while you scratch your back thinking “Wait a minute… I live here. Not you…”. But – naturally – it is of no avail.

And then it happens. The Thief in Chief comes out of his 747, waves, strolls down the steps, inspects the guard of honour, jumps into his rocket-launcher-proof limo and whizzes off. If you’re lucky, you can also attend a joint statement, where you are naturally not allowed to ask questions, but only dully report what was said.

And as he flies away into oblivion, you are left with a huge ammount of useless recordings, because you will end up using the only coherent and meaningful sentence he made in the joint statement, which was the original idea anyway. And then everyone will ask why all the media report the same.

Unless of course they get an exclusive with the man, like POP TV did the other day. In this case you can exclusively watch Bush give only one usable sentence in the interview. Truth be said, the questions weren’t much better either, but the interview was in English