Members of SDS, SLS and NSi youth organisations throwing slurs at mayor Zoran Janković
Pengovsky went more or less AWOL in mid-December and failed to post on a couple of things which may very well come to determine the immediate political future of this country, or – at least – some of its politically prominent citizens
Echoes of a revolution
While addressing the Council for Republic (Zbor za republiko), opposition leader Janez Janša said core values of “Slovene Spring” were under threat and that it was high time to “repeat certain lessons from twenty years ago” and that wants the people to turn out en masse on Slovene streets in spring. The statement sent shockwaves through Slovenian political scene, just as (probably) intended. First reactions were nervous and even furious. Justice minister Aleš Zalar of LDS (wrongly) interpreted it as a call to arms, while others saw this as Janša’s attempt to cash in on the social unrest and topple the government. Somewhat unexpectedly, however, Janša found himself very much isolated, since even Slovene People’s Party (SLS) and Slovene National Party (SNS) rejected a call to the streets. Radovan Žerjav of SLS even said that “getting people on the streets is easy during times of crisis. The problem is getting them off the streets again.“.
Slovenian Spring aside, this would not be the first time Janša tried “street democracy”. When the late PM Janez Drnovšek proposed demission of then-defence-minister Janša in 1994 over the Depala Vas Affair, thousands poured to the streets in his support, some sporting pitchforks and shovels. Janša was dismissed from office regardless. Ten years later, in the summer of 2004 he took part in anti-Roma demonstrations (that time around happily seconded by Zmago Jelinčič of SNS) and thus helped uncork a prolonged out-pour of racism and xenophobia which was for years aimed at Slovene Romas, symbolised by eviction of the Strojan family
Speculations about what prompted Janša to issue the call and why, specifically, does it have to be spring? Some say that it has to do with the Patria Affair and that, come spring, people will again be protesting for the release of prisoner Janša. Others say that he’s likely to get more people to attend when the weather is warmer. Which weirdly reminds of Janša’s reaction to labour union demostrations in 2005. Then still a PM, Janša upon hearing of the strike being called for end of November, cynically remarked that the unions would be better off staging the strike in spring, to get the attendance. He was soon forced to take his foot from his mouth, since 30.000 people attended in near-blizzard weather.
Anyway, things will get mighty interesting, come spring.
Echoes of xenophobia
Which is not to say, that things are not interesting as it is. Just before Christmas representatives of youth organisations of right-wing SDS, NSi and SLS paid a visit to Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković and presented him with Monopoly card-board game, thus trying to point out that he is – in their view – ruining rather than running the city and is selling city property to line his own pockets. They also accused him of lying to the people of Ljubljana. Since the whole thing happened during one of Janković’s regular press conferences in full view of cameras, the mayor responded immediately, telling the youngsters off and (obviously prepared) gave them a book on democracy for children as well as a copy of law regarding financial transactions of municipalities.
But then all hell broke loose, as some of the visitors said that “at the very least they are Ljubljana natives, whereas Janković is not” and added that he is “a Balkan cowboy stealing from city coffers“. The mayor (rightfully) retorted that he is proud of his family and then some more slurs flew in his direction.
Not that is stopped there. Soon thereafter SDS youth organisation, whose newly minted president Klement Perko was present during the Janković escapade, tried to pull a similar trick on president Danilo Türk, apparently for his giving a medal to Tomaž Ertl (the last socialist interior minister). Perko tried to present Türk with a plaque with the word “Šalabajzer” written on it. Being of
Serbian apparently German origin, the word can best be translated as “twat“. Which is not a nice thing to say to a president, no matter what language you say it in.
It should be noted, however, that NSi and SLS youth days later apologised for the outburst, while SDS remained stubbornly quiet and accused Janković of using their words against them (whatever that means)
Back to the future
And just to top it off (and do some teasing for tommorow’s post), Prime Minister Borut Pahor proposed a demission of minister of environment and DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec. Reasons for this are various and the demission will have to be voted on by the parliament and it remains to be seen whether this means that Pahor’s government will lose the majority in the National Council.
The game, as the phrase goes, is afoot