Christian Democrats

As noted yesterday, a new political party was formed in Maribor a couple of days ago. Well… Technically speaking, an already existing party named Kresnica (literally: Glow-worm… go figure) was renamed into Christian Democratic Party. Generally speaking, the renamed party will promote “classical” conservative values, the sort one would excpect from a party of christian democratic profile. There is only one caveat. Well, a couple, actually…

Marko Štrovs while he was still being listened to (source)


Although the “CD” part of Slovenian political spectrum seems to be empty, this is hardly the case. Both Slovene People’s Party (SLS) and Nova Slovenija (NSi) tap that particular pool of votes, both because they share similar values, but also because their history is much more intertwined than their names suggest. When the media started using the term “Slovene Christian Democrats” for the new party, SLS was slightly iritated and said only it (SLS) can legaly use this term and the SKD acronym (see below for explanation). But if SLS was iritated, NSi went outright apeshit. Understandibly so:

Just as NSi was formed by a renegade group of SLS+SKD, the new party is spear-headed by its former members and sympatisers, most notably Marko Štrovs one of Slovenia’s foremost experts on pensions systems, who until recently was a high-ranking NSi party member. Months ago, however, he made a rather serious cock-up when he said that the pensioners in Slovenia are so well off that they should only be afraid of kicking the bucket. There was an uproar, but the party didn’t lift a finger to protect him and fed him to the media. They gave him a desk job withing the party, where he once again caught media attention by saying that NSi in being sliced like a salami by Janez Janša and his SDS – he was reffering to NSi’s slow but relentless trend of hemmoraging votes. NSi leadership reacted swiftly, accusing him of panic-mongering and cut him out of the loop entirely. Štrovs hit back where it hurt NSi most: he did extacly what they did eight years ago, and for more or less the same reasons.


When multi-party elections were held for the first time in Slovenia in 1990, suprisingly enough, it was the Slovene Christian Democrats (SKD) who got the most votes within the opposition bloc DeMOS and not any of the parties which were at the forefront of the democratic drive (funnily, the reformed communists got the largest number of votes on a per-party level, but most of the oppostition was joined in a political alliance DeMOS and they formed the first democratically elected government, with then-little-known Lojze Peterle as the PM).

Anyways, things went dowhill from there for Christian Democrats as Janez Drnovšek toppled Lojze Peterle in spring 1992 in a vote of no-confidence and the SKD went into coalition with LDS from time to time until Drnovšek himself was toppled by SLS in spring 2000. But not before a merger between SKD and SLS, briefly making the merged party the most powerful political force in Slovenia, toppling Janez Drnovšek as the PM and replacing him with Andrej Bajuk only weeks after the merger. Only months later, however, several high-profile members of SKD part of the new party left the party citing irreconcilable differences and formed NSi, Nova Slovenija only months prior to elections and – contrary to expectations – made it past the parliamentary treshold comfortably.


So Marko Štrovs and Jože Duhovnik (another former high-profile SKD member) did what he, Andrej Bajuk, Lojze Peterle and a whole lot of other people did in 2000. Unlike SLS which is going about its own wobbly path, the leadership of NSi is genuinely shocked, one could even say frightened. They’ve started a smear-campaign against Štrovs, and just yesterday released a statement saying that 80 percent of new party’s platfrom is copy/pasted from NSi’s platform and that it had only just emerged that Marko Štrovs was a member of the communist party in the previous regime.

Now, membership in the Party used to be magnum crimen for most right-wing parties at various points in their history, but NSi stuck to this stipulation (Janša’s SDS, for example never had it, as Janša himself was a zealous Party member – so zealous in fact that the Party threw him out. SDS rather screened their membership against working for Yugoslav intelligence services). Personally, I couldn’t care a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys is Štrovs belonged to the Party or not, but the nature of NSi’s press release (using hearsay and denunciations: “we’ve been alerted to his Party membership by one of his former co-workers” as well as explaininig their own reactions: “we have not reacted nervously, we merely wanted to point out several inconsitencies and manipulations“) suggests that Štrovs is on to something.

Now, pengovsky happens to know that membership of NSi is not exactly thrilled with the current leadership, but after a long power-struggle between Lojze Peterle and Andrej Baujk two years ago local divisions raised their voice and said that enough is enough and that – although far from perfect – Bajuk should remain party president and that a new leadership will be chosen after elections. Even more, Bajuk privately admitted that he’s fed up with the job and that he will not seek re-election.

So, the question everyone is asking, why did Štrovs and Duhovnik do it? Are they just disenchanted or are there far more sinister forces at work? Given all of the above, I would bet on the fact that they smell blood and want revenge. But if what they say is true and they don’t have a larger political and/or financial backing, they are either very naive or outright lying. There is no way they can make it into the parliament on 21 September without some firm financial and political backing, because:

a) unlike NSi in 2000 they’ve got no sitting MPs which would by law by them airtime on national radio and television

b) the polarisation of the political arena is reaching gigantic proportions this time around and there will be little room available for the little guys. They may not like to hear it, but that’s the way things are at the moment.

But since NSi is considered to be one of the little guys, it is entirelly possible that Štrovs’s KDS will chip away just enough votes to keep NSi below the 4 percent parliamentary threshold. Some say that this is precisely Štrovs’s aim and that it is the political left, especialy former President Milan Kučan who is behind the project (in a more fervent right-wing mind this fits perfectly with accusations of Štrovs’s Party membership). However, one should ask oneself who really benefits if NSi doesn’t make it into the parliament. And the answer is: Janez Janša and his SDS.

Namely: Slovenian electoral system preffers bigger parties – meaning that the votes cast for parties which did not make it part the threshold are distributed between all the other parties by applying some heavy mathemathics, where larger parties get more of the undistributed vote than the smaller parties (I’m still mustering enough will to wite the monster of a post on electoral system). But whether Štrovs is doing to his former party what he acussed Janša of doing remains to be seen. If KDS will run a high-profile campaign, it will be obvious that there are powerful forces at work, trying to reshuffle the cards at that end of the political spectrum.

Ore Exploration and Wasting Time

Monday’s special session of the parliament was an excercise in “ore exploration and wasting time” to use a phrase popularised by the Group TNT. Hours upon hours of the coalition praising the government on its swift and merciless showdown with tycoons (nevermind the fact that no charges have yet been filed) and the opposition saying that it’s all a load of bollocks and that the other side only wants cheap PR on state television (nevermind the fact that the opposition made good use of airtime as well)

Aleš Gulič and Jožef Školč (both LDS) taking a different attitude towards the debate (photo: Matic Pivk/Delo)

But what was it all about? Technically, Monday’s session was a direct result of a resolution passed a month ago, where the parliament called upon the government to do something about these pesky tycoons and do it quick. In case you forgot, a month ago the MPs were at each others’ throats for most of the day, and then, ten minutes before closing time, when the bartender President of the Parliament called for last orders, he and the rest of the coalition were given some by PM Janša who marched into the Parliament after the opposition spent the debate time alloted and – without the fear of being rebuked – told who the bad guys were really.

This time around it was the government which requested the session, even though the parliament is officially on vacation. But that didn’t stop the PM to skip the session completely. He left the job of explaining how the sudden increase in activity of Competition Protection Office and Securities Market Agency is absolutely not connected to the fact that elections are 53… no, 52 days away to Minister of Economy Andrej Bizjak, his head of MPs Jože Tanko and Branko “Gizmo” Grims, his chief attack-dog and a Goebbels-wannabe

Although the timing of the session mimics a move made by Janša four years ago, when he lambasted the government of Tone Rop, there are not-so-subtle differences between then and now. Four years ago then leader of the opposition Janez Janša spent hours deconstructing the LDS-led government, accusing it of being too soft on corruction, crime and cronyism (the three Cs). Add to that the Erased, a wave of anti-Roma sentiments withing the more “patriotic” part of of the population and an extreme case of ruler’s fatigue in LDS and you can see why Janša won elections in ’04 and what platform he won then on.This year, however, Janez Janša is a prime minister of his own government but still blames his political opponents (who are now in the opposition) for the situation we are facing today.

So on one hand the PM is trying to pull the same stunt again, but on the other hand he needed this session badly, because – despite all the hubbub – the regulators still cannot file a single indictment. So the political aim of Monday’s session was to create a feeling that the “war against tycoons” is going well and that the final victory is at hand, so Boško Šrot my just as well turn himself in. Not that he has any plans of doing that, because this time around he wasn’t the primary target. This prestigious title was reserved for leader of Social Democrats Borut Pahor, whom the coalition MPs were trying to present as being merely a pupet for Boško Šrot and his media and political exploits.

So the goal of Monday’s session was not really about tycoons, but rather about how to frame the opposition for everything this government didn’t do in the past four years. It was a real waste of time. One might just as well start prospecting for ore.

P.S.: As of yesterday we also have a new political party in Slovenia: the Christian Democratic Party. More on that in the coming days

Nothing Kučan Says Is Not True… A Guest Post by St. Luka

Thursday’s post on Kučan vs. SDS seems to have stirred the pot a bit – and I’m not thinking people who share the nick with a certain German philosopher. What caught my eye was a brilliant post by no other than St. Luka. In his “Nothing Kučan Says Is Not True…” he constructs a brilliant argument as to what exactly was going on and what exactly was Milan Kučan saying…

Since his post is in Slovene (as is indeed his entire blog) I’ve asked St. Luka for permission to translate and repost his post and he generously agreed. Here it is – his first guest post on ever.


A: Everything Kučan says is untrue!

B: Nothing Kučan says is not untrue!

A: Everythign Kučan says is not true!

B: Nothing Kučan does not says is not true!

A: Everything Kučans does not say is true!

B: Everything Kučan says is not untrue!

A: Nothing Kučan doesn’t say is not untrue!

B: Everything Kučan doesn’t say is untrue!

A: What does Kučan actually say?

B: ???

The latest linguistic clash between Milan Kučan and Slovene Democratic Party has once again shown that the beauty of a language lies in the fact that the language by itself, words, sentences, mean nothing. That statements are neither »true« nor »untrue« based on any sort of »reality« of a particular event. Rather, their meaning must be researched on an entirely different level.

What is it all about? POP TV has reported the event, but they were happily oblivious to traps, quirks and beauties of Slovene language, therefore they reported only on SDS’s »witticisms« and Kučan’s »short memory«. In short: they’ve failed to grasp the beauty of the problem. It was – thankfully – highlighted from that side by Pengovsky. This enables us to have a go at cracking the latest linguistic nut in a case of »What did Kučan really say?«
Kučan said:

“The arrogance, the audacity that sky-rocketed during the term of this regime and the devaluation of values which negate what we craved in 1990 as we opted for our own state, is such that changes must be made«
And SDS replied:

»This is of course true because the current government is trying hard to prevent that values which negated values of the 90s (communism, Yugoslav centralism, party privileges) would not become the values of today. These actions were supported and are still supported by at least 90% of Slovenians«

Pengovsky claims that SDS simply misunderstood Milan Kučan’s complex sentence, who in this case demonstrated a superior knowledge of Slovene language. But – truth be told – Kučan’s sentence is grammatically not entirely correct. This we can’t really hold against the former president, since he did not put his statement in writing, but was giving a statement directly, off the top of his head and into a camera. Were I in his situation, I’d have troubles formulating a coherent and grammatically correct sentence. But for the sake of it, let’s take a look at the mistakes:

Aroganca in samopašnost, ki sta se razširili pod to vladavino, in razvrednotenje vrednot, ki so negacija tega, kar smo želeli leta 90, ko smo se odločili za svojo državo, so vendarle taki, da so potrebne spremembe.

»Arrogance« and »audacity« are two things, therefore the use of dual is necessary, however, adding »devaluation« makes them three, so use of plural is necessary at the end of the sentence (arrogance and audacity are in Slovene language nouns of feminine gender, while devaluation is neutral, thus in the end use of masculine gender is necessary).
The sentence is grammatically incorrect, but that doesn’t really matter. The question of its interpretation is much more interesting.

SDS claims that Kučan wanted to say something else, but in his evilness he fumbled his words and said exactly what he meant. SDS thus interprets the sentence through Freudian psychoanalysis and says that Kučan’s alleged lapse reveals his subconscious, where his desire imposed itself upon his will. In other words: Kučan’s lapse made him say exactly what he wanted to say.
On the other hand Pengovsky also claims that Kučan said exactly what he thought, it’s just that his argument is based on grammatical analysis rather than psychoanalysis.

Arrogance, audacity and devaluation of values that negate what we wanted in 1990, when we opted for our own state, are such that changes are necessary.

Therefore: Devaluation of values, arrogance and audacity. All of these negate what we wanted in 1990.
The »what we wanted in 1990« part relates to »arrogance«, »audacity« and »devaluation of values« and not just »values« and with this – according to Pengovsky – the sentence is no longer a lapse but rather a wholesome criticism of the ruling administration.

So, how do we correctly interpret this linguistic incident between Milan Kučan and SDS? We can conclude the following:

One: Milan Kučan said what he wanted to say, regardless of the interpretation.

Two: What Milan Kučan said one way or the other unsettles the SDS, regardless of the interpretation, because,

Three: whatever Milan Kučan says, he is lying and manipulating. Whenever a lapse makes him fumble his words and say something truthful, this truth is most likely even more evil than his lies are.

Thus it doesn’t matter whether you subscribe to Pengovsky’s or SDS’s interpretation of Kučan’s statement, the end result is the same: Kučan said exactly what he meant, and what he meant was that it’s time SDS stops running the country.

Language can be so fascinating!

The Art Of Speaking

Yesterday, I hinted at how PM Janša and his SDS place ever greater bets in a gamble remain in power after elections on 21 September. Now they are picking fights with former president Milan Kučan again. Just as a side-note: just as with Laško and Delo, here too Janša is proving that there are some mistakes he simply doesn’t learn from. Fights with Milan Kučan usually ended badly for Janša, but the latter would not let go, and keeps picking fights to the point of becoming silly.

Former president Milan Kučan in a statement for POP TV (source)

This time around, Janša is acusing Kučan of putting his foot where his mouth is. Namely, in a statement for POP TV, Kučan said that “The arrogance, the audacity that sky-rocketed during the term of this regime and the devaluation of values which negate what we craved in 1990 as we opted for our own state, is such that changes must be made.

Now, read the sentence carefully. I had to employ dr.filomena, the master translator who cracked this one. If anyone’s interested, here is the Slovenian original: “Aroganca in samopašnost, ki se je razširila pod to vladavino, in razvrednotenje vrednot, ki so negacija tega, kar smo želeli leta 90, ko smo se odločili za svojo državo, je vendarle taka, da so potrebne spremembe.”

One’s foot in one’s mouth is not a pretty sight. Especially if we’re talking about a former president whom everyone listens to, regardless of their feelings towards him. And yet the SDS saw this as a pathethic gaffe and decided to take pot shots at the ex-Prez. In a statement, the party said that “Kučan must have wanted to say something else, but his hatred towards those who do not see eye to eye with him made him fumble his words and thus he said that today’s regime is the ‘devaluation of values which negate what we craved in 1990’

Normally, this would be brushed aside, probabbly with the addition of “everyone’s fallible” or something like that. However, things are not that simple. Milan Kučan did not fumble his words. Neither did he put his foot in his mouth. What he did, was show a superior command of Slovene language while the SDS (as per usual) heard only what it wanted to hear and took his words completely out of context.

Namely: Kučan said that changes must be made because of the audacity and the arrogace of the regime and the devalutaion of our values which we opted for in 1990s. It’s there. You just have to read it. People at SDS on the other hand don’t seem to care for the niceties of their mother-tongue. They seem to have only basic understanding of Slovene and so it is no wonder that they misread the sentence.

Sometimes just talking is not enough. One has to know how to speak. And so the debate will now shift to the question “what did Kučan really say”. And this is the sort of fight Kučan was always best at.