No More Bacon

With all the brouhaha about bones, burglars and borders pengovsky was unable to write about a subject he feels strongly about and which is finally (as in: fifteen years too late) being addressed. According to state secretary Branko Lobnikar the ministry of Public Administration has drafted a law on integrity in public sector, its primary aim being to strengthen the Anti-Corruption Commission, headed by Drago Kos. But one of the more daring provisions is establishing a conflict of interest between being an MP and a mayor.

Miran Koren, Branko Lobnikar and Drago Kos presenting the draft law (source)

The way things stand now it is perfectly legal for a mayor of a municipality to run for an MP, although the Constitution clearly stipulates that MPs are representatives of the entire people, whereas a mayor obviously has to think about his municipality’s best interest. This can be safely described as the Slovenian version of pork barrel politics, where the mayor doubling as an MP has a much better chance of bringing home the bacon. Had this been the only problem it would have been fine. But one of the (supposedly) unintended effect of the current situation is the fact that some municipalities are exerting influence massively disproportionate to their size, as well as inciting creation of new municipalities, all of which hope to get their mayor elected MP. This in turn makes the municipalities even more dependant on the state as their small size prevents them from accumulating significant monies via taxes.

Currently there are 20 mayors among 90 MPs, meaning that more than a fifth of the parliament may at one point or another come to represent the interest of 155,000 people (combined population of the 20 municipalities), whereas they should be representing interests of two million people at all times. This is painfully obvious every time the budget is being adopted, or when legislation on local self-government is being debated, as MPs/mayors will – as a rule – oppose legislation which would reduce powers of the municipalities in favours of (say) regions or the state.

And yes, those same mayors will have to vote on this particular piece of legislation. Out of twenty MPs/mayors twelve are members of the ruling coalition. Which will mean a lot of arm twisting if the Quartet is serious about this initiative. Because if it is indeed passed, those same MPs will find themselves in a tight spot a year and a half from now, when local elections are due and they will have to choose between a comfy-but-semi-anonymous MP seat and a career as a local Kahuna.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

3 thoughts on “No More Bacon”

  1. Both MP and Mayor office are full-time jobs. Or at least they should be. I discussed this at length with one of the long-standing two-in-ones and my final question was… so how much time can you possibly spend with your family?

  2. Hmmm… All over Europe and especially over here in Belgium, mayors can become MP’s or senators, even cabinet members. There used to be upheaval about this many, many moons ago, especially because these MP’s organised ‘counseling days’, where their local constituents could plead to their local parliament representative to be taken care of in a more personal way for whatever qualm they had. A semi-legal form of nepotism, if you will and clientelism for sure. There were calls to pass legislation to prevent PM’s cumulating other jobs in the political spectrum, but guess what? It petered out because all these PM’s/mayors/lawyers/etc. voted against it. So you needn’t even doubt which way your PM’s will vote…

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