The Royal Visit

They say one chooses one’s friends and one’s enemies. But family – that’s in the stars. Most of us lead fairly normal lives. We go to work, go out, have a drink, get laid – that sort of thing – without getting interrupted. Even if people hold public office, they vacate it sooner or later and can go about their usual lives.

Queen Elizabeth II while inspecting the guard of honour (photo: Boštjan Tacol/Žurnal24)

But if you happen to be born into royality, you’re fucked. Yes the fancy dresses. Yes the royal weddings. Yes the lineages that go all the way back to King Alfred or Charlemagne. But having to rule the country every day since the day you ascend the throne until the day you either croak or abdicate, kind of sucks. And it’s not as if you really have a choice. I mean, you could take a pass, but it is not really what you were brought up for, is it? And so you are – through no fault of your own other than being borin into a specific family – expected to be on top of things daily (Sundays included), receive dignitaries, tour the country, attend receptions and ceremonies, represent the monarchy and be stately basically 24/7. And you have to do it for the rest of your life

If you, however, happen to be a notch or two down the line of ascendacy – or are only married to member of a royal family – then you’re screwed for life. What do you do when you’re second (or twenty-second) in line for the throne? You still can’t take a leak without protocol, but you’ll never amout to anything much and at the end of it there will be precious little you’ll be able to show for yourself. At least compared to the head of the family.

So despite my republican persuasion I have the utmost respect for members of royal families. Especialy the Winsdors. I wouldn’t trade places with them for all the farms in Cuba and I think Queen Elizabeth rocks. Think about it. She has had her weekly conferences with eleven Prime Ministers. From Winston Churchill to Gordon Brown. She ruled the UK since John and Paul were still The Quarrymen, she resisted the charms of Mick The Lick and survived the onslaught of Sid Vicious. And I’m sure that – were they sill on this Earth – John Lennon and Sic Vicious would have joined Sir Mick and Sir Paul in the ranks of nobility. And apparently Margharet Thatcher once remarked that the Queen is the sort of person who would probably vote for social democrats.

The Queen is a cool leader indeed. :mrgreen:

P.S.: Hopefully I’ll be able to post a video later in the day.

Finally! Here is the video of the Queen touring Ljubljana Prešeren square, acompanied by President Türk and Mayor Janković

Queen Elizabeth Tours Ljubljana from pengovsky on Vimeo.

I know it’s a bit late, but – better late than never! 🙂

Some People Just Don’t Know When To Quit

As Slovenia is getting ready to welcome Queen Elisabeth II, some people in the outgoing government are apparently taking the election result really hard.

Rupel’s public letter to The Prez (source)

First, there is the little issue of Ljubljana Central Market, which Ljubljana mayor Janković wants renovated (adding an additional brige and an underground parking garage). The trick is that this one of several areas of the city declared as a historical and cultural heritage and is as such under special protection of either the municipality or the state. Janković’s plans caused an uproar with numerous Ljubljanchans, who have formed a citizen’s initiative, staged rallies and organised round tables. In any case, they’ve been up against Janković for the better part of his term so far, voicing their opinion loud and clear and yet the outgoing Minister of Culture Vasko Simoniti has found it necesary to issue an order protecting the Central Market, efectively stopping plans to renovate three weeks after his party lost the elections. I mean, tehcnically his ruling has legal merit, but the in this and similar cases the minsiter has the right of discretion and could have ordered the protection any time in the last year-and-a-half. But no. He had to do it now. Just to be a nuissance.

Second, the outgoing Prime-Minister Janez Janša has gotten law-suit-happy. Not only has he filed a suit agaist Magnus Berglund, a reporter with Finnish YLE and author of a programme claiming Janša took a € 20 milion bribe in the Patria affair, against CEO of Sistemska Tehnika Milan Švajger and fomer advisor to the President Bojan Potočnik. This select trio of defendants is now joined by Drago Kos, head of the Anti-Corruption Office of Slovenia who also appeared on the programme, but did not make any direct charges against Janša, although – truth be said – he did make a couple of indirect ones. It looks as if Janša in watching the programme over and over again, constantly finding more and more proof that it was a conspiracy. There is a word for that.

Third, The No-Longer-Eternal Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel apparently really really wants that ambassador’s job in Vienna. And he takes it personally as well. Had he not, he would have probably found the taste and demenaor not to write a public letter to President Danilo Türk (Slovene only), urging him to expedite the process of nominations of new ambassadors, because “the current situation could damage Slovenia’s reputation in the international community” and (earlier in the letter) that “the current global economic situation, recent export of scandalous manupulations to Finland and their subsequent import back to Slovenia, use of international connections to discredit political opponents in Slovenia, all of this suggests a need for a concerted and organised diplomatic presence of Slovene diplomacy in the international arena“… And so on ad nauseam. And although Rupel denies that this letter is about his tenure in Vienna, it is obvious that is precisely about that. He seemingly finds it hard that someone would question his wishes and ambitions, even though it was he as a minister who nominated himself as an ambassador to Austria. There is a word to describe that as well.

BTW: The Prez refused to comment on Rupel’s letter, calling it inappropriate and indecent. There you go.

P.S.: Sorry for late posting. You know… Things to see and people to do…

Who Will Get Rupel’s Job?

The new parliament begun its work yesterday, electing its president (Pavel Gantar) and three vice-presidents (Miran Potrč of SD, Vasja Klavora of DeSUS and France Cukjati of now-oppostition SDS), meaning that the legislative brach in now fully empowered – if not yet fully functional. MPs still have to vote on members and leadership of various bodies and committees.

Vasja Klavora, Miran Potrč, Pavel Gantar and France Cukjati (source)

With new parliament conveened, the government of Janez Janša is now functioning in caretaker capacity only. Broady speaking, this means that it cannot (including but not limited to) propose legislation, nominate and/or appoint civil servants or engage in foreign policy initiatives. And – perhaps somewhat suprisingly – this is the field where the PM apparent Borut Pahor will have his hands full trying to find a viable compromise.

For starters – rumours of Dimitrij Rupel aiming to become ambassador to Austria have now been confirmed, as the outgoing government nominated Rupel for that particular post on Tuesday (less than 24 hours before assuming its caretaker role). The nomination received mixed reactions. Leader of Zares Gregor Golobič and his coutnerpart in LDS Katarina Kresal reacted negatively, while Borut Pahor did not take issue with the nomination, saying that – if anyone – than a foreign minister is equipped to be an ambassador.

Perhaps. But this might again be an example of Pahor over-eagerly trying to avoid a public confrontation, although Slovenia has been without its top representative in Vienna since April, when Ambassador Ernest Petrič was sworn in as a Judge of the Constitutional Court. A lot of eyebrows were raised as the Foreing Ministry failed to produce a candidate for the job, but now it is clear (as many have speculated) that Rupel way eyeing the job and kept the post to himself. Which is fucking poor taste and yet another example of the outgoing government treating the state and its institutions as its own property. By not opposing Rupel’s departure to Vienna, Borut Pahor is quite possibly trying to be “generous in victory” and prevent any kind of gloating, but he just may be taking it too far. Namely – Slovene minority’s rights in Austria (specifically, in Haiderland) are still being trampled and one cannot afford to name an ambassador to Vienna, just because this particular person is infatuated with Ursula Plassnik. Not to mention the fact that where Rupel walks grass don’t grow again. Hopefully The Prez will exert his powers fully and will not sign Rupel’s nomination. Just to make a point.

However, with Rupel out of the picture one way or the other, an interesting question of succession ensued. Many have eyed this prestigious post, but Borut Pahor is apparently looking at it from many points of view simultaneously:

First, there is his statement that the coalition negotiations will have ended by Sunday evening. Including ministerial nominations. That puts a time frame on the decision making process as well as limiting new PM’s options. Secondly , despite promises of “experience before party membership card” in the nomination process, Borut Pahor have to find at least three ministerial posts (out of presumed seventeen) to be filled by leaders of the coalition parties. And thirdly – unlike Janša, who had zero foreign policy experience and considered it Rupel’s turf, leaving the latter alone to stir shit up – Borut Pahor is likely to keep a close eye on foreign policy.

So, who will succeed Dimitrij Rupel? Rumours have it that Katarina Kresal is eyeing the job. If she were to be given the portfolio, she and her party just might be satisfied enough to swallow Karel Erjavec’s DeSUS getting a portfolio more than LDS. But Katarina Kresal as Foreign Minster is an extremely bad idea. I mean, she might be able to charm the so-called diplomatic parquet, but really… Being sexy and intelligent is not enough. Foreign minister should be a seasoned politician with ample experience both at home and abroad. He or she should be intimately familiar with the history of nation’s foreign policy, decision-making process in the EU and UN, should know the details of bilateral issues this country has with countries around the world and should know (i.e.: have a ready-to-implement plan) what he or she wants to achieve as a foreign minister.

Katarina Kresal simply does not fit the description. If nothing else, she lack the mileage. In my opinion she would fare much better as Minister of Internal Affairs, not in the least because she would directly oversee all the human-rights issues that have plagued the outgoing government (and governments before it), most notably “The Erased” and the Roma issues. Alternatively, she could be named Minister of Justice and work on reducing court delays, another notorious human rights issue this country has. In any case, since LDS is big on human rights (that is not to say other parties of coalition aren’t, but LDS made it one of focal points of its campaign) I’m convinced Katarina Kresal should be given one of these portfolios.

Gregor Golobič has other problems. He was my personal favourite for the post of President of Parliament, but as we saw that was not to be. Golobič even said that those particulr shoes are just too big for him, since he was last an MP 16 years ago. Apparently he was considered as an FM several times in the past few weeks. Does he fit the description above? Yes and no. He does have plenty of experience at home, even if he was working in the background until he emerged as leader of Zares. His foreign policy experience is scarse (although it is possible that I don’t have all the relevant information), but having worked with Janez Drnovšek, I’m sure Golobič picked up a trick or two. However, he does not strike me as someone who would unnecesarily mince words and enjoy the watered-down positions of the EU just because Poland had a problem with a EU policy (a hypothtical example. of course). Furthermore, since Pahor is likely to keep his fingers in the foreign policy cookie jar, I kind of doubt it that Golobič whould have any of it.

Golobič with his experience in working behind the scenes and academic and professional background (he majored in philosophy and is/was closely connected to a hyper-high-tech firm Ultra) is somewhat off the scale of Slovene politics. Now that leading the parliament is off the table, Golobič should be perhaps tasked with combining the academic, economic and R&D resources this country has. This would also give him a lot of manouvering space politically, as this portfolio would have breath, but not so much depth. This portfolio is not to be mistaken for what was known as Ministry of Reforms, which coordinated finance, economy and social portfolios, a task which will apparenty fall on the shoulders of former Governor of Central Bank, Mitja Gaspari.

So – who should be the next foreign minister? For what is worth, I’d very much like to see Ivo Vajgl take the post. He has the diplomatic experience, serving on various diplomatic posts and has already served as FM for a couple of months in 2004 when then-PM Tone Rop dismissed Dimitrij Rupel, but then lost the elections. During those three months Vajgl presented a wonderful concept of cultural foreign policy, as in actively promoting Slovenia and its foreign policy priorities through its rich cultural exchange. When the renowned conductor Carlos Kleiber died and was burried in Slovenia next to his late wife, a beautiful cultural hommagge was paid, with Ricardo Mutti of Milan Scala conducting Slovene Philharmonics in his honour. However, there was little or no foreign policy support or follow-up, and Vajgl wanted to change that approach. Hopefully, he will be given his true chance now.

But hey – it’s not me who is trying to form a government 😉

A New Parliament Convenes And Elects Its President

Members of the new parliament will convene today in a session called by the President of the Republic. The first orded of business will be to elect the Commission for public office and elections, which oversees the nominations and formally vets all candidates for parliamentary positions. After the Commision is elected, terms of MPs will be confirmed by which the new parliament will be fully empowered to perform its duties. But it will become fully operational only after its president is elected.


According to the constitution the President of the Parliament is second only to the President of the Republic. He or she can act with presidential authority when the President is unable to be it because he is abroad, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to perform his duties. Being president of the parliament is no small matter.

So it did come as a bit of a surprise when Zares, the second largest coalition party did not nominate its president Gregor Golobič for the post, but chose Pavel Gantar, a long-serving MP to do the job. While Gantar does have the benefit of in-depth knowledge of parliamentary twists and turns, he seems to lack charisma which I imagine can be very helpful when re-establishing the legislative branch as an equal partner in the system of checks and balances. In case you forgot, under Janša’s rule, the balance was tilted heavily in favour of the executive branch, reducing the parliament to rubber-stamp duties. But since outgping President of the Parlimanet France Cukjat dropped the bar pretty low in the charisma departement, Gantar should do OK.

I still thing, however, that having Gregor Golobič as parliamentary chief would provide for some agonisingly beautiful Kodak moments, when the Blut-und-Boden approach of the right-wing parties would clash with his proverbial wit and – some would say – cynicysm.

In any case, Pavel Gantar will be flanked by three vice-presidents, two of which are already known: Vasja Klavora of DeSUS, who served as vice-president in the last term as well and Miran Potrč of Pahor’s Social Democrats. Incidently, Klavora is also the oldest member of the Parliament and will preside over the session until President of the Parliament is elected. Choosing him as vice-president is a very strong signal that DeSUS will be a member of Pahor’s coalition. Giving DeSUS a vice-presidential spot also puts this party ahead of LDS in terms of political influence, which is what DeSUS president Karl Erjavec instist upon – namely that a party’s political power in the coalition must reflect its election result.

The second vice-president will be Miran Potrč of Social Democrats, a Slovene political legend in his own right. He was the president of the last socialist Slovene parliament (The Assembly, from 1988 to 1990) and in that capacity he overwas and helped bring about constitutional changes which provided legal grounds for holding the first democratic elections. Potrč is an old parliamentarian cat and know rules and procedures inside out.

And finally, Borut Pahor, the new PM-apparent said the other day that he will present his cabinet by Sunday. This would enable him to hold a vote on his government almost immediately after he will (assuming that he will) get the mandate to form the government. He will be given that mandate by the parliament, but he will be nominated for the post of PM by the President of the republic.

And speaking of The Prez – he will address the parliament today. It wil be interesting to se what he has to say. There are thing on his mind, but I’d venture to say that he will call for a more independent parliament, to finally enact all rulings of the Constitutional court (including the Erased) and some pointers for the future as he sees it.

McCain Defends Obama As Slovenia Awaits New Parliament

Funny. While John McCain’s campaign is attacking Barack Obama and potraying him as associating with terrorists, John McCain defends his Democratic rival as a decent an honest man. In this BBC video


Have the things gone out of control in the Republican campaign, has John McCain finally had it? Or is he simply letting others do the dirty work for him, while he seemingly defends the other guy, if only to reiterate what Republicans think of him?

In any case – we’ll be back in Slovenia tommorrow, as the parliament convenes for its first session and elects its leadership. Stay tuned! 😀