Killing Križanič Softly (With His Song)

Finance minister Franci Križanič is on the outs, it seems. Yesterday the Court of Audit released a follow-up report on several issues pertaining to ministry of finance, and in several cases found that no improvement was made and declared a grave dereliction of duty by the ministry and as a result recommended to Prime Minister Borut Pahor to start the demission procedure for minister Križanič.

Franci Križanič, once dubbed minister for optimism (source)

This basically a remake of what was happening to Karl Erjavec of DeSUS a year ago almost to the day. Back then PM Pahor said publicly that he has no choice but to heed to the request of the Court of Audit and this should be the standard course of action from now on. Which puts him in a bit of a tight stop this time around, especially since Franci Križanič is not just anybody but a heavyweight of Pahor’s very own Social Democrats. On the other hand, he is also very accident prone and has had Pahor save his ass publicly on a couple of occasions. Without going into too much detail, the gist of the matter is that in the opinion of the Court of Audit the ministry’s accounts are not up to standard. This is not something new and the auditors first raised hell way back under Janša’s government, when finance portfolio was held by all-but-forgotten Andrej Bajuk and it is safe to say that things go even further back. But the point is that the ministry is now run by Križanič and that things still aren’t in order.

Officially, PM Pahor gave Križanič a week to explain himself and the finance-minister-in-peril already said that he has no intention of resigning. However, this is more or less the same song we’ve heard in case of Erjavec. In fact, rather than being between a rock and a hard place, Pahor might be looking for a remake of that particular hit-single. We’ve seen time and again that a vocal support from the prime minister can soon crumble into sun dust, cases in point being several former ministers. Furthermore, Pahor has the ability to play stupid and claim no hidden agenda to the point of everyone else’s huge embarrassment, usually resulting in other people doing his dirty work. And so far all the signs point to Pahor cutting Križanič loose.

So, why would he do that? First of all, Križanič is about as popular a fetid dingo’s kidney. True, finance ministers tend to get that way, especially during times of economic crisis. But apart from objective reasons, Križanič has has more than his share of fuck-ups. He is also apparently heavily at odds with minister for development Mitja Gaspari who (apart from being former governor of the Bank of Slovenia) once held the post of finance minister so he pretty much knows the turf. But the main issue seems to be the immediate fate of Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) the largest state owned bank, where Križanič supposedly favoured strong state ownership, while Gaspari suppose to be a bit more, well, liberal, in that respect.

And then there’s the inter-party thingie. Križanič is an SD heavyweight, especially powerful within Ljubljana branch of the party. It was some time since Pahor shook up his own party ranks and opposition within the party has built up in the mean time. Križanič represented the more “social” part of Social Democrats and was apparently on good terms with old party hands and also won praise from the party’s youth organisation (not that the latter bears any significance). So what we are witnessing might possibly be described as killing a few stones with one bird, with PM Pahor giving the finger to the opposition within the party as well as getting rid of a minister of mixed fortunes and who just might have outlived his usefulness.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

5 thoughts on “Killing Križanič Softly (With His Song)”

  1. You might be just as good a person as any to ask (probably better) – what’s this talk of a technical government? When asked for comments today, Erjavc of the Pensioners’ party said nonchalantly that, “Well, as has been the talk these last few days, the head of the Court of Audit is being set up as the PM of a technical government”. I follow politics to an extent (granted, I don’t scour the pit bottoms of hearsay mongers like pož or and the likes) but that was the first time I heard of Šoltes being set up for heading a replacement government. Besides, who would be scheming on this? The opposition never once fails to point out their ridiculous talking point mantra of Šoltes being the grandson of a former Communist bigman, so they aren’t likely to be doing this… I’m confused.

  2. Well, Šoltes (president of the Court of Audit) is a name often mentioned when there’s speculation about who is to replace PM Pahor. In fact, he’s mentioned a bit too often. Yes, there are rumours, but they pop up every so often on a regular basis, so I wouldn’t give them too much credidibility.

    And even if Šoltes were stupid enough to take the position (he definitely is ambitious enough) I sincerely doubt an offer was made. And if there’s a hidden agenda, it would seem as if Šoltes is in fact working in Pahor’s favour, helping him get rid of a partly problematic minister.

  3. Where’s the Devil?

    As always in the details? In the case of Erjavec it was some privatization/sale deal? What is this guys fault? In any case, as a very external observer, this government seems to be always on its last legs and in grave danger. Yet nothing significant seems to have happened for the past year. Is this a tactic to keep everyone mobilized and backing the smaller evil or just luck?

  4. Technically, Erjavec was dismissed for dereliction of duty over waste separation legislation. But it is sort of a given that he had to go for other reasons, such as his involvement in the Patria case. The privatisation you mention was just icing on the cake, as was the fact that he generally annoyed everybody.

    The same goes for Križanič. Bad book-keeping is indeed a no-no, but I think this is just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

    As for this government always being on its last legs: I think squabbling and in-fighting is a “natural state” for the political left. Although it may seem as if the coalition is five minutes away from general meltdown, this actually is the way they operate and are no less stable for it.

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