Once More We Play Our Dangerous Game. A Game Of Chess…

I think it was James Earl Jones in “Clear And Present Danger“, that Reaganesque comedy featuring Indiana Jones, who said “Watch your back, Jack”. Why? Because even though members of a particular administration are suppose to on the same team, they constantly plotting against each other, striving for more influence while limiting others in achieving that same goal. Call it the dark side of checks-and-balances.

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Sean Connery and Harrison Ford :mrgreen: (source)

In case of the new Slovenian government, it is Gregor Golobič‘s Zares which appears to have taken the early lead. Given the party’s modest result (with respect to Social Democrats, the senior partner in The Quartet, that is), Golobič has positioned his party in all the right places. With Matej Lahovnik as the minister of economy the party has direct (political) influence over handling the economic crisic. With Golobič himself as minister of higher education, science and technology, it holds control over the area where major increases in spending were promised. With Irma Pavlinič Krebs as minister of public administration, there’s direct influence on the entire bureaucracy and – finally – with Majda Å irca as minister of culture, there’s direct influence on future media development, where a shift from provincial 19th century “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” mindset to a more liberal and urban one is already apparent.

The above does not mean that things are OK just because they are the way they are. It only shows great political skill of Gregor Golobič, who has played his hand more or less brilliantly. However, his political power is far from unlimited (a stark contrast from, say, ten years ago) and he was soon playing defence, when PM Borut Pahor – not to be outdone by his coalition partner – started building a parallel power-structure. And I don’t mean stuffing (sorry, staffing) his office with Dimitrij Rupel. No, PM Pahor was about to create a sort-of-advisory Council on Energy which would report directly to him. The trouble was that energy is part of the economic portfolio, which is why minister Lahovnik of Zares saw this as Pahor pissing in his pool. The backlash was imminent, there was even talk of Zares quitting the coalition and Pahor backed down.

However, Zares will not be able to able to withstand the pressure indefinitely. Rumours are aplenty and – depending on who you listen to – there is talk of Social democrats’ MPs switching over to Zares as well as at least one Zares minister not being happy with her position (pengovsky goes:whoops, me and my big mouth :oops:). So while they wait for Borut Pahor to come crashing down on them again, possibly with great vengeance and furious anger, Golobič and the rest of Zares team are redistributing power between them. At the moment this is taking form of various directorates being transferred from ministry of economy to other Zares-held ministries. These transfers are not a bad idea unto themselves, but their political benefits cannot be ignored either.

So, (to continue with Tom Clancy theme) in the words of Sean Connery: “Once more they play their dangerous game. A game of chess.…” And at the moment only Zares and SD are playing. LDS made the only move it could, exchanging their good behaviour during coalition negotiations for a man at the helm of state owned NLB bank, while DeSUS‘s Karl Erjavec spent his moves on getting the defence portfoilo – and lost.

There Are 25,671 Erased

The new Minister of Interior Katarina Kresal and her State Secretary Goran Klemenčič yesterday published final numbers and action plan in case of Izbrisani (The Erased). For more background information I strongly recommend these two posts by Michael The Great, but the bottom line is that while the commonly accepted number was some 18,000 people whose legal status went from “citizen or legal alien” to “does not exist” (and remained there for 17 years), it now turns out that there are 25,671 individuals who were erased from records in February 2991 1992, did not exist as fas as state was concerned, were not entitled to any benefits and could not execute their rights and duties as either citizens or legal aliens.

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Izbrisani – a satirical comedy by Boom Theatre

State Secretary Klemenčič said yesterday that the ministry will immediately start recognising legal status retroactively to those individuals who have managed to re-aquire legal residence in the meantime.The rest will, however, have their status legalised by a special law.

And none too soon, might I add. Of the 25,671 people, 1302 have already died and with them died any claims to compensation by the state. Because there will have to be compensations. Imagine seventeen years of being denied public health care, work and pensions and still have to live somehow. These people will want their money back. And it is only right that they get it. Not to mention the fact they are entitled to some sort of compensation for violation of their basic human rights.

However – while I’m all for giving them back monies they spent on social services they would have been entitled to had they not been erased, I would like to see the compensation for violation of human rights being decided in a court of law, perhaps in a class-suit, or on a case-by-case basis. Namely – if the Erased have a case against the government, then it is not for the government to decide how they should be compensated.

And if the court decides that they’re entitled to astronomical compensation, then it is only right they take the state to the cleaner’s.

EDIT: In reply to Dr. Filomena’s comment, here’s the link to the Dispatches programme by CBC, where journalist Lisa Hale reports on Izbrisani.

Left To Themselves, Things Tend To Go From Bad To Worse

If the former PM Janez JanÅ¡a was known for running a tight ship and for occasionally pissing in other people’s pools, his successor, the current prime minister of the Sunny Side of the Alps apparently has a knack for stirring up shit in his own backyard. His HRM marks took a dive when he co-opted Dimitrij Rupel as his special general envoy (or something like that) which caused anger and disbelief among those who were more than happy to see Rupel meet his political demise (yours truly included).

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Pahor and Janša (source)

However, Murhpy’s First Corollary seems to have come into effect: Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse. Citing dire economic situation, both have (apparently independently) called for a bi-partisan political partnership which would unite most (if not all) political parties on a number of common goals. Which sounds peachy. But it is not.

Firstly, there is little need to create such a partnership two months into the first term of the new government. Granted, there are political advantages to this, mostly by spreading the blame around in case Murphy’s first law applies when this government tackles the crisis for real. But the Quartet wasn’t elected to spread the blame around but because they promised they’ll do the job better than the other guys.

Secondly, the most-beautiful of EU leaders is reinventing the wheel. When former PM Janez JanÅ¡a tried to implement his neo-liberalistic “reform” package, he also tried to get other parties to bring non-coalition parties on-board as well. Back then Borut Pahor was only too eager to sign the deal. Truth be told, it was only LDS which refused to sign on to JanÅ¡a’s document which in the end amounted to very little. There is every reason to believe that today the result would not be all that different. However, for Pahor’s government time is of the essence as economic conditions worsen daily. Rather than losing breath over bridging the political divide, the PM should go for broke and keep the responsibility solely with his government. If his team is really as good as advertised, then it is only right that his government takes all the glory of a swift economic recovery.

Thirdly, why give the opposition a helping hand in restoring their public image? It was the government of Janez Janša which drove up the inflation, the budget deficit and which refused to acknowledge the looming crisis. This was part of the reason they lost the elections. There is no moral, political or economic reason for PM Pahor to clean up their act for them. If the new government will tackle the crisis successfully, then the opposition will have no choice but to tag along. if however, Pahor messes things up, it is only right to have a vigilant opposition.

And finally. Upon assuming office, PM Pahor promised to bring the parliament back into the focus of decision-making. The proposed bi-partisan agreement would take the parliament and its rules of procedure out of the equation, just as it did during JanÅ¡a’s regime. And that cannot be good.

Obama’s Oath Part Deux

It seems that this week on pengovsky.com belongs to the Big O. exclusively. The man himself took care of that as he took the oath of office again. Just to be on the safe side.

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(source: BBC News)

But this does pose an intriguing question, which applies both to the US and to Slovenia: Since the text of the oath is written in the constitution (Article 2 of the US Constitution and articles 104 and 113 of the Slovenian Constitution), what happens if the text of the oath taken does not correspond exactly with the text written in the constitution?

Any thoughts?

Good Luck (And Brush Up On Your History)

Throughout the Big O’s speech I had the nagging feeling that something was missing. Don’t get me wrong. ‘Twas a good speech. Indeed it was a great speech. But it wasn’t one for the books and it didn’t provide a decent one-liner. In that respect it wasn’t an inspirational speech.

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Word cloud of Big O’s speech (source)

On a purely emotional level I was somewhat disappointed by this. It would be kind of cool to see a 21st century equivalent of “I have a dream…” or “Ask not what your country can do for you…“.

On a politically rational level, however, there is little that the speech left to be desired. He clearly laid out his priorities, pointed out the weaknesses but reassured the people that things are doable. The fact, that he took a big but well measured swipe at Dubya only strengthened the power of his words. However, he apparently felt the need to support his words by drawing from history, not in the least by quoting George Washington and following (quite literally) in the footsteps of Abraham Lincoln.

I must admit, however, that I was slightly unsettled by Obama putting communism and fascism in the same basket when he said that “(…) earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.”. Without trying to put too fine a point on it, it should be noted that while Fascism and its equally despicable offspring, Nazism, were defeated by brute force, Communism crumbled because it was outspent, outdeveloped by capitalist (or liberal) democracy. Hence, fascism was defeated by missiles and tanks whereas communism was defeated by sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. I’m sorry if I sound too anal about it. I realize that the above might make little to no difference on the other side of The Pond, but I feel these things should not be left unsaid. History is important over here as well.

In any case, The Big O set himself the task to remake America. Good luck!