No Nomination For PM

Contrary to expectations, The Prez did not nominate a candidate for PM yesterday. He is widely expected to nominate Borut Pahor as leaders of all parilamentary groups (save Janez Janša‘s SDS) stated that they will vote in favour of Pahor’s premiership. But President Danilo Türk said yesterday that he needs a tete-a-tete with Pavle Gantar the newly minted President of the Parliament, hoping that the parliamentary committees will have comenced work when he nominates his man. Türk said that he expects to make that move early next week.

Waddayouknow! It’s The Prez 🙂

Why the delay? Türk said that he would like to coordinate with Gantar to have parliamentary committees and bodies up-and-running by the time the MPs vote on Türk’s nominee.

Which is a load of bollocks.

Contrary to his subsequent cabinet nominees, the PM nominee is not vetted by parliamentary bodies. Instead, he or she outlines his or her policies, if they choose so, parliamentary groups explain whether they support the nominee, after which a secret ballot is held, where the nominee must win an absolute majority of 46 votes. Period.

So, why is The Prez snowing us with his need to confabulate with his stand-in? Probably because he is covering Borut Pahor’s ass for a day or two, buying him time to re-negotiate a specific paragraph of the coalition agreement. Namely – it transpired yesterday late in the afternoon, that DeSUS and the rest of The Quartet read the segment on pension reform differently (suprise, surprise!). So, they’ll be ironing out the details over the extended weekend as tommorow is a public holiday in Slovenia, while simultaneously go about deciding who gets which portfolio.

Rumours are plentifuly and speculation is rife in that departement. The question on everyone’s mind is which portfolios will leaders of The Quartet take for themselves. While Pahor is obviously going to be the PM and cannot take on a specific portfolio (unlike in the UK), Gregor Golobič, Karl Erjavec and Katarina Kresal remain a mystery. The latter is apparently eyeing the job of foreign minister (an out-and-out bad idea), Erjavec is playing the table hard and wants to be either foreign or interior minister, while some add civil service and judicial porfolios to his range of choices, whereas Gregor Golobič has consistently kept his mouth shut over his ministerial ambitions. The latest unconfirmed rumours put him in charge of ministry for higher education, science and technology. Which I think is a good idea and is hopefully true.

Horse Trading (Divide Et Impera)

The Trio is now officially The Quartet. Social Democrats, Zares, LDS and DeSUS, members of the future ruling coalition have apparently reached a deal on the coalition agreement. While the actual text of the agreement is not yet public, it is known that the agreement will detail government policies in a wide range of fields, from media to workers’ participation in profit sharing and pensions.

The Quartet (photo: Matej Povše/Dnevnik)

Especially the latter were a bit of a hold up, as DeSUS – the pensioners’ party demanded an across-the-table increase in pensions, but later agreed on an inverse increase, where people with pensions lower than € 500 per month will receive two € 150 bonuses in 2009, while those with larger pensions will receive proportionally lower bonuses (the bigger the pension the smaller the bonus). At this stage it is not exactly known what consession have been granted to Zares and LDS, but off the top of my head I’d say Zares stuck to its guns especially in the field of media legislation, while LDS remains a mystery. It is clear that – as a the smallest party in the new coalition – it had very little leverage and I wouldn’t be surprised if it kept its chips off the table for the next round of coalition negotiations.

As a sidenote: having a particular interest in the area, I’d like to reiterate the “four-point-test“, later ammended to a “three-point-test” which would in my opinion show whether the new government is serious about media freedom:

a) Change the law on RTV Slovenia, radically lowering the number of politically appointed members of both boards (to a max of, say, 25%).
b) The Law on media should be ammended, re-introducing the clause forbidding media contentration.
c) Forbid operators of future digital radio and television networks from becoming content providers as well.

Be that as it may, The Quarter now moves into dangerous territory: deciding who exactly will get a particular portfolio. It seems that Karl Erjavec of DeSUS succeeded with his demand of getting a ministry more than LDS, while it is also almost a given that there are some portfolios the PM-apparent Borut Pahor has already earmarked for his party and already has a specific person in mind to run it.

There are fifteen ministries up for grabs and up to two ministries without portfolio. Each ministry has a state secretary (something like an underminister), wheras the PM can name four additional state secretaries to serve directly under him. There are also fourteen Government Offices, some more political than other (ranging from Office for European Affairs to Slovene Intelligence Agency). Some of these GOs can be elevated to the level of a ministry without porftoilo.

And although they’re supposed to be left to mind their own business, one can be pretty sure that horse trading in names will also include parliamentary committees, as a party, which will have felt disenfranchised by its influence in the government will probably be compensated by a larger influence in the parliament.

In any case, things can still get ugly, as it is inevitable that egoes are about to clash. PM-apparent Borut Pahor already passed one test by cajoling Karl Erjavec back to the negotiating table. Now he faces an even bigger test, when he has to actually divide the influence and rule the government.

Today The Prez will hold consultations with leaders of all parliamentary groups, after which he will formally nominate his candidate for Prime Minister. He is expected to nominate Borut Pahor later today in or tommorow morning at the latest.

If, however, you’re feeling lucky, you can go over to Dr. Filomena’s and try to guess the exact composition of Pahor’s government. How many ministers will the next government have? Who will get which portfolio? How many of them will each party have? Place a bet with dr. Fil and win a prize!

BTW: Sleeping with Pengovsky went online exactly two years ago.


You’ve probably already seen this, but…. Remember the year 2000? When our biggest worry was the millenium bug and where does Monica Lewinsky get her clothes drycleaned? When the main political news was Al Gore going for Tipper’s tonssils? When “watching the game, having a Bud” was a perferctly legitimate way to spend your time?

Well, thousands of billions of dolars, eight years, two wars, one drowned city, one Wall St. meltdown and one severely failed presidency later, things are just not the same on the other side of the Pond.


Unless of course disaster happens.

VoiceMale Choir In Ljubljana

Remember The Poušters? I posted a video of them performing in Prešeren square in Ljubljana more than a year ago. But that is not to say that those kids are the only ones putting the statue of good ol’ Doctor Fig to good use. As I was making my way back to The Firm™ Thursday last, I noticed a group of men singing in English. And I don’t mean your usual my-club-is-better-than-your-club-and-I’ve-got-my-mates-to-prove-it kind of singing, but true chorus singing, the way it should be done.

Upon closer inspection, these gentlemen turned out to be members of VoiceMale, a community folk choir from Morpeth, Northumberland, UK. They gave a very nice performance, and – to tell you the truth – my day way better for it. Thank you, gentlemen! Especially Mr. Graham Stacy, with whom I did this short interview. 😀

VoiceMale Choir Performs on Prešeren Square from pengovsky on Vimeo.

P.S.: Thanks to Alenka of Slovene Press Agency for kicking me in the butt and making me do the video.


As the Queen leaves Slovenia (in case you missed it, I did post a video of her visit to Prešeren square), coalition builiding takes the stage front and centre once again.

The two amigos (source)

In case you forgot all about it, you can bring yourself up to speed here, here and here (and if you call now, here as well. If lines are busy, call later, but do call).

According to various reports the text of coalition agreement is more or less agreed upon. Social Democrats, Liberal Democrats and Zares hit it off quite well and have settled their policy differences some days ago. And while the three parties have – publicly at least – postponed the question of who exactly will get which portfolio, Karl Erjavec of DeSUS stirred the pot quite a bit when he flat out demanded the position of defence minister (which he holds in in the outgoing government of Janez Janša as well).

However, in an unexpected show of cojones Borut Pahor categorically rejected his demand, bringing their meeting to an end after mere five minutes. Apparently, it went something like this

Pahor: “Welcome, Karl! Look, you can pick any portfoilo save defence.”
Erjavec: “No. I want to continue as minister of defence!”
Pahor: “No go.”
Erjavec: “OK, bye!”

How’s that for brevity of coalition negotaions, huh? 😀

After Bojan Šrot‘s SLS opted out of any potential coalition deals with The Trio, Erjavec (correctly) calculated that he is the only really viable option for Pahor to form a working coalition. However, he terribly overestimated his bargaining position. Keeping Erjavec as defence minister would heavily damage Pahor’s crediblity, as much of left bloc’s campaing was built on the Patria Affair and calls for Erjavec to step down as minister of defence. Furthermore, rumours have it that Pahor engaged in some underground diplomacy and found out that SLS could be persuaded to start negotiating were Janez Podobnik to keep his job as minister of enviroment.

If correct, this information was the carbon in Pahor’s balls of steel when he nixed Karl Erjavec. But it was still a big gamble. SLS could go either way, leaving Pahor out in the cold with his pants down. But the bulj of the work was done by DeSUS’s MPs, who went apeshit when Erjavec walked out of the meeting with Pahor. Since they are the seven votes Erjavec is bargaining with, they raised their voice and after a weekend of arm twisting Erjavec caved in. Officially, he was applauded for taking a tough line against Pahor, raising the ante, but there was a lot of barely veiled criticsm by MPs – of which only two are actually party members. Which was something Erjavec has to consider when he tries to impose party discipline.

In any case, if all the junior coalition parties (Zares, DeSUS and LDS) confim the text of the coalition agreement, then the policies of the new government are set. And Pahor is off to do some heavy-duty human resource managing…