Cviklaža (eng: Cviklature; polit., n., a brainwashing technique in Slovene politics)

Milan M. Cvikl shot to Slovenian political prominence with the Patria affair. He served at various government posts, most notably as State Secretary to Finance Minister Tone Rop during 1996-2000 government of Janez Drnovšek, where the two created a budget every year by employing a brain-washing process known as “Cviklature”, which – so it is said – was not unlike a very sophisticated interrogation/torture technique. Usually a minister (say, a minister of health) would be called to some remote government building, locked up in a room with both Rop and Cvikl, and the two would proceed to explain to the unfortunate minister why his budgetary requests are totally inappropriate, irresponsible and follow wrong goals altogether. Apparently Cvikl came down so hard that Tone Rop, whose communications skills are on a par with a hungover pit-bull on a bad day, was considered the one with a soft touch. Nobody is willing to say exactly what was going on in there, but ministers would invariably emerge back into daylight with a completely different budget proposal which they would defend tooth-and-nail.

Milan M. Cvikl (source)

After Slovenia joined the EU in 2004, Tone Rop (now PM) made Cvikl his minister of European Affairs, as the previous minister Janez Potočnik became European Commissioner for Science and technology. Cvikl didn’t exactly excel at his job, in fact he was seen a bean-counter way out of his depth. But he got enough exposure to get elected as MP on LDS ballot in 2004, when Janez Janša took over as PM. When Janša’s government proposed its first budget, it fell on Cvikl to discuss it during plenary session of the parliament. He did so in a four hour speech, tackling every possible aspect of the budget, tearing it to bits. Even though the budget was passed, MPs were hurting. For most of them it was their first experience of Cviklature, which turned out to be a combination of a loud, nervous and slightly nasal high-pitched voice, incredible stamina and anal retentiveness.

But Cvikl (by then already a member of Social Democrats) really made a name for himself during Partia affair where he chaired the parliament investigative committee and was once again able to employ Cviklature on people whom he called for hearings. He was doing it for three years and was apparently making a lot of people in Janša’s government (as well as the man himself) very nervous, since Janša’s coalition employed a trick by calling his as a witness in front of another investigative committee, effectively removing him form chair of Patria committee.

(on that note: It seems that the Patria investigation is stalled as Finnish investigators have problems tracing money from Austria to Slovenia)

In 2008 elections Cvikl didn’t make it into parliament. Despite his media exposure he wasn’t very popular, which is not at all surprising since he always appears to be in attack mode. He made some tabloid headlines in 2007 as he divorced his wife of god-knows-how-many-years and shacked up with Jerca Legan, a PR specialist who in the past advised CEO of Sistemska tehnika, company which lost the arms deal to Patria. Nevertheless, Cvikl remained in high politics as the new PM Borut Pahor made him secretary general of the government, a very powerful position overseeing the functioning of the entire government.

And it is in this new function (which he so far seems to enjoy) that Cvikl is becoming the centre of a new scandal. News broke (no doubt leaked by himself or his staff) that there was one photocopier too many in the governmental building and that people emplyed by the previous government copied sensitive documents and that the whereabouts of some of these documents are unknown. Cvikl’s predecessor Božo Predalič denies any wrongdoing, but Cvikl is not the one to let go of a piece of meat he just sunk his teeth into. Not that the whole thing will necessarily amount to much.

Just to that I give you a heads-up. :mrgreen:

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

9 thoughts on “Cviklaža (eng: Cviklature; polit., n., a brainwashing technique in Slovene politics)”

  1. I may be completely off here as I’m not that immersed in Slovenian media, but from my perspective, it almost seemed as if the media really really wanted this to be a big deal, a hot story with a wow factor. That in a desperate pursuit of a headline story they actually wanted to make it seem more important than those actually involved care about it. What do you think?

  2. You might be right. In fact I too share the belief that this is little more than a storm in a very small tea-cup.

    But Janša and classified documents are always an explosive combination, so it’s good to keep an eye out 😈

  3. Well, Cvikl is not all that bad for Slovenian politics. Having “survived” three of his “Cviklaza” events, I speak with some authority… the three were held in a sweatbox size office on Beethovnova – where he typically held about twenty “guests” – ministers and their financial undersecretaries, or experts. The hearings were actually quite extensive lectures, or sermons, about economics, finance, etc. From my American point of view, he was quite instructive, and also, boy, did I learn some “new math” in economics – like how you arrange to have a fiscal year with thirteen months of income and twelve months of expenditures … He was a master lecturer (and tiring tyrant, sometimes)… The Brdo cviklaze were however, another matter. There the luxury of castle space prevailed, but the badgering shifted from Cvikl to Rop, who played the “bad cop”. Nah, Cvikl is good for somethimng, sometimes, I think …

  4. Pesek, thank you for providing further insight. Sounds credible enough. And makes one entertain writing fiction on the subject of Slovenian politics.

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