Hurricane Season

Global warming? No, just Slovene politics (photoshop by yours truly)

As predicted the Liberal Democrats (LDS) chose to remain a part of the ruling coalition. Having been sulking for the better part of last week and then threatening to walk out lest Primer Minister Borut Pahor fulfilled a set of demands, they were forced to look in the face of reality last weekend and realize that they had much more to lose by leaving the coalition than by staying a part of it. While PM Pahor did declassify the transcript of a meeting between himself, Prosecutor General Barbara Brezigar, justice minister Aleš Zalar and prosecutor Branka Zobec Hrastar, the transcript failed to deliver the smoking gun, evidence with which Zalar aimed to fire Brezigar. Truth be told, a page of the transcript remains classified as it pertains to an ongoing criminal investigation and Zalar claims that this is precisely it,that evidence against Brezigar is hidden in that one still-classified page. Circumstantial evidence, however, suggests otherwise. Namely, that both Zalar and Brezigar were bending over backwards to prove their point while dismissing errors on their part as trivial.

But be that as it may, it turned out that Zalar’s party chief and ministerial colleague Katarina Kresal had other reasons to play hardball. She is up for her second vote on interpelation (the first serving minister in Slovene history to be subject to a confidence vote twice in the same term) and her horoscope ain’t too bright. It seems that Karl Erjavec of DeSUS came to collect. You will remember that Erjavec resigned after a protracted and rather embarrassing little charade of who-wants-to-butt-fuck-who, when LDS leader took the moral high-ground and started running Erjavec out of the government after he was a) indicted for dereliction of duty while serving as defence minister under Janša’s government, and b) named by the court of Audit as the person responsible for Slovenia not to have implemented a nation-wide waste-separation system and proposed to be replaced.

Erjavec got his revenge sooner than expected, but he didn’t miss a beat: he said that although bound by the coalition agreement, DeSUS will not support Kresal unequivocally, but will rather release their MPs from any obligation and allow them to vote as they please. In other words: it is possible – although not probable – that Katarina Kresal loses the vote of confidence. But it was apparently enough to make her edgy and nervous.

At any rate, Kresal and Zalar had proven themselves not to be all they could have been, at least from the standpoint of pure politics. Neither had covered their backs before attempting some sort of political bravado and they have no one but themselves to blame for their bruised egos. In all honesty, were their votes not critical to PM Pahor for securing an absolute majoriy in the parliament (withouht LDS he is a vote short), they could have found themselves at the wrong end of a very long and hard political stick administered by PM personally. It would appear, however, that hurricane season had begun in Slovene politics. Dodging one criris, he is headed straight onto the second one, much more real and much more severe than incessant foot-stomping of a petite party.

As the government is entering the final stages of a debate on pension reforms, labour unions finally realised that they have a purpose in their lives and started opposing reforms which set the minimum retirement age at 65, meaning that we would will have to work longer for less. Unions went apeshit and in a joint statement threatened to take to the street and topple the government if need be. Well, truth be told, they threatened to hold a referendum first and only then topple the government, but there you go 🙂

Pengovsky will take the time one of these days to write up the social and labour reforms which will include a piece on “malo delo” (or student work), much desired by Camille. But suffice it to say that there is a certain paradox in the fact that the most sweeping reform this country has ever experienced will have to be passed by the most left-wing government this country has ever experienced. Although, for the record, some would argue that reforms are nowhere near as sweeping as advertised, nor is the government as left-wing as advertised.

Be that as it may, no-one missed the fact that the unions took after opposition leader Janez Janša who – as you will remember – also threatened with mass protests, the only difference being that Janša said that he would do it to protect the democracy (democracy as he sees it, naturally), while the unions claim to have a rather more prosaic goal of protecting worker’s right. Obviously this does not mean that unions and the oppositoin find themselves on the same team, after all those same unions four years ago forced then-PM Janša to back off from his (admittedly stupid) plan to introduce flat tax rate. But it is an interesting fact nevertheless.

It all goes to show that the government of Borut Pahor is increasingly fighting on several fronts at the same time. So far the results are mixed and the feeling of disorganisation is only heightened by a number of competing visions of what “post-crisis” Slovenia should look like and – more importantly – what areas the government should focus on immediately. It will come as no surprise to you that all visions (reform packages, proposals, whathaveyou) seek a bright future for this country. They just go about it in their own peculiar ways. The latest proposal, Vision 20+20 was put together by former minister of development Žiga Turk and his colleagues (full text here, Slovene only)

Add to that the fact that the parliament will vote on the arbitrage agreement next week, that MPs are seriously debating only half-serious proposals by Mladina weekly to dismantle the army, that final votes on the Family Code and The Erased will follow soon and that the whole thing will reach its peak with autumn municuipal elections (with primary focus being on Ljubljana and its mayor Zoran Janković) and you could say that Slovene politics is entering its own hurricane season

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

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