Referendum on the Family Code: Aftermath

The result of Sunday’s referendum on the Family Code left many people disappointed. Also, it left many people happy, especially those who felt that the supporters of YES campaign (including yours truly) were annoying little pains in the asses. But be that as it may, the rejection of the Family Code with a 54% against vote does have a couple of very serious rammifications.

First and foremost it’s the fact that children who live in same sex families still have only one “legal” parent, whereas their non-biological parent has zero legal relation to the child. True, there are ways around that, but that’s courts recognising legal loop-holes and not having a straight-up legislative solution. Secondly, a wholesome legislation regulating all types of partnership remains a distant prospect. And when I say distant, I mean it literally. Before 2012, the last time the parliament was about to vote on same-sex marriage and rights (although not as comprehensive a law as the Family Code) was way back in 2004. which means that at this pace, the next time Slovenia will decide on this issue will be 2020. Just lovely. :/

On the upside, however, even though the Code was rejected, the debate surrounding it, sour as it was, did plenty of good. This was the first time for a lot of peolpe to learn that so called “rainbow families” do in fact exist and that their lives are in every way similar to those of “traditional families” except for a set of really painful and awkward complications, such as the non-biological parent being unable to take sick-leave to tend the child.

So, why was the Code rejected, despite the last poll projecting otherwise? A lot of attempts at explaining it were given: that it was a case of slacktivism; that people don’t give a fuck; that the NO campaign mounted a last-ditch attempt and succeeded; that their lies simply paid off. Well. pengovsky’s take on thing is that for the general population this was a lot to take in as it were. No matter how tollerant people claim to be, they tend to be wary of people who are “different”, especially in an area as intimate as family relations. But even if you cross that brige, you stil have to have the people make a combination of a rational and emotional decision to cast a YES vote. And this is where things ground to a halt in my opinion. Most people were simply unable to make an emotional connection to the kinds of situations the Family Code provided for, even though they may have been able to rationalise into accepting it.

It would therefore be very benefitial if the effect of the YES campaign would go beyond just bringing out (too little of a) vote. If the momentum of raising and maintaining awarenes is kept, then the whole thing probably was not in vain. If, however, NGOs and other progressive groups which came together on this issue are again scattered wide apart, then… well… cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war… for the backlash of the conservative side will be fast and furious. This wasn’t just about gays and their children. It was about the society as a whole, whether it would continue in a more tolerant way or if it will start sliding back into ages past. On this issue status quo is simply not possible.

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Janković Gets Nod, Family Code Given Cold Shoulder

Janković won, but the Family Code lost

Just a quick update: Zoran Janković was – as expected – re-elected mayor of Ljubljana with 61 percent of the vote. On the other hand, the new Family Code was rejected with a 54 percent vote against. Given that the final poll by Delo daily put the YES campaign ahead with a 60/40 vote, the end result was not completely expected, although – in hindsight – one should have known better, really. Especially given the low turnout, which barely reached 30 percent in the referendum vote.

More on both issues in the coming days, of course.

Lies, Damn Lies and the Campaign Against the Family Code

Apart from voting in a few mayors, Slovenians will be casting their votes on the referendum on the new Family code, the very piece of legislation which reignited the culture war which (truth be told) never really stops in Slovenia. It only rages with different levels of intensity. This time around, the Gates of Hell seem to have opened and the forces of darkness descended upon this sorry excuse for a country.

Talk to the hand, ’cause the face ain’t listening. Vesna Vilčnik (NO) shushes Miha Lobnik (YES) (RTVSLO via @milijonar)

During this campaign the amount of lies has reached unprecedented levels. Even the referendum on arbitration agreement with Croatia saw less bullshit produced by those who opposed it. Indeed, this time around we saw the whole plethora of lies, fearmongering and deceit. Everything from claiming that the family code brings “homosexual education” to schools, that children will be taken away by the state if parents will not have them vaccinated and that the code provides for surrogacy. The natural order of things will be dismantled, Slovenian society as we know it will fall apart and the world will end. This is not my rendition of opponents’ statements. These are their statements.

So, what’s it all about? This, this and this, basically. The Family Code, which was passed by the parliament and then put up for a referendum by an astrotuf movement headed by Aleš Primc and heavily backed by the Roman Catholic Church, basically provides for legalisation of most (not all) family situations, giving both children and adults with a legal framework within which they can operate even if they are not a “traditional”, mother-father-offspring family. It should be said, that – although finally provided – this framework still differentiates between various types of families. For example, a same-sex union, while equal to a heterosexual union in virtually every other aspect, is not allowed to adopt children unless one of the adults in the union is a child’s biological parent.

But that doesn’t really matter, because what is at stake here, is not really the right of individuals to marry and have children (at this point, most opponents will hurry to assure you they have a number of gay friends), but the fact that the conservative, reactionary visions of a society where “everyone knows their station” are fast disappearing. In fact, the definition of family and the moral imperative which stems from it, is one of the last pillars of a rigid and pre-modern concept of a society champinoed by the Catholic Church and others who take it upon themsevles to be the ultimate judges of the morality of others. This is not about families, nor it is about partners or children. It is about control. Who gets to decide what’s wrong and what’s right. In a modern society, individuals do, with the caveat of entrusting the care for the common good to the state. In a pre-modern society, the self-appointed moral and spiritual leaders do, often asking to be followed blindly. Because. They. Know.

Which is why they feel they can sell even the most epic of bullshits. Indeed, the whole NO campaign is not unlike the US Tea Party movement and the level of agressiveness brings about memories of frenzied Republicans shouting Barack Obama is a Muslim terrorist during the 2008 US presidential campaign. Even more, the lies of the NO campaign are on the same level as Michelle Bachmann‘s “death panels” during th Obamacare campaign. In fact, the whole NO campaing seemed to be picked up from an old Reublican handbook. It doesn’t matter how far out the claim is, as long as it keeps the ball roling and the enemy engaged, making him spend time and energy debunking the latest crack-pot claim. Like the one that the Family code is full of secret keys. What do they do? Explain the Mayan calendar?

Voting yes on the referendum on Sunday will mean a) that adults will be able to love whomever they like and in a manner they see fit, not hurting anyone, b) children will have a better chance of being with a loving family and c) no self-appointed “higher authority” will be able to tell you what a) and b) in fact are. Voting no, however, will mean that things stay exactly as they are and a lot of people, who pose no threat whatsoever to anyone, who could have it better, will not be able to do so. It’s that simple.

Everyone deserves to be happy. ZA.


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Ljubljana By-elections

Apart from the crucial vote on the Family code (more on that tomorrow), Ljubljanchans will vote in the mayoral by-elections this Sunday. The players are known and pengovsky introduced them some time ago, so we’ll dispence with niceties this time around.

Well, there you have it… (source)

While there’s always an outside chance of an election uspet, the result of the vote seems a foregone conclusion. Zoran Janković is poised to be elected mayor for the third consecutive time which will be a bit of a tounge-in-cheek as the by-elections were called because he was elected to the parliament in the first place. But since Janković was denied the premiership even though his Positive Slovenia won the elections, Janković probably won’t hurt in the pols too much.

While some candidates raised the question of apropriateness (after all, it isn’t really customary to cherry-pick positons you run for), the main thing is that this time around it isn’t Zoki’s charm that’s working for him, but rather the fact that – save a couple – all candidates are, well, bland. It’s allways nice to read about the challengers’ platforms, but delivery is just as important. Really, work on it.

The only two candidates besides Janković which did put some back into it, were Mojca Kucler Dolinar (joint NSi/SDS candidate) and Vito Rožej (Zares). Neither really has any chances to win this time around and both recognise the fact (semi-officially, at least). In fact, Janković’s bid nothwithstanding, the candidates are mostly laying groundwork for the regular municipal elections in 2014. Either that or they’re fighting a losing battle for a reward – say a more decent job description somewhere along the road.

At any rate: It looks like Zoki will take this one home in the first round. But paralel to the mayoral by-elections, Slovenes will vote on the refrendum on the new family law. As you’ll see tomorrow, the situation in that particular cesspool is “dramatic”. 😀


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All The Presidential Men

Election season contiunes. President Danilo Turk‘s five year term is close to an end and this autumn will see the eleventh time Slovenes will head to the polls since 2008 parliamentary elections. After Milan Zver MEP for Janez Janša‘s SDS announced his presidential bid, the hunting season was on and with the SDS candidate already declared, all eyes were on the incumbent president and his possible challeger(s) from the left.

Whose chair will it be? (source)

Namely, as things stand now, Zver wouldn’t stand a chance against Danilo Türk in a face-off. In fact, it is quite possible that his role is one of a token candidate, putting up a decent fight but nothing more. Not unlike Mojca Kucler Dolinar who runs for Ljubljana mayor in the Sunday by-election (more on that tomorrow). But what it would be more than just a face-off?


The question du jour of course is what will Borut Pahor do? The ousted PM and still the leader of the Social Democrats passed on the 2007 presidential bid to win the parliamentary elections a year later. But despite his relatively young age (he will turn 50 only next year) he is widely seen – not in the least by himself – as presidential material, of high personal integrity, seeking conseus and loved by little old ladies. Despite being a subject of an epic asswhooping on 4 December elections, Pahor still wields some serious influence on the political left. He is by no means the unchallenged leader of the left wing as the jury is still out on whether Zoran Janković will become anything more than just a nominal leader of the opposition. But the fact is should Pahor enter the presidential race, he could make life difficult for the incumbent president and just about everyone else.

Namely, a three-plus-way race could split the votes in a totally unpredictable way, not unlike in 2007 presidential elections, when Danilo Tűrk, then supported by SD, Zares and DeSUS narrowly beat Mitja Gaspar (an LDS favourite) in the first round, but then went on to win over Lojze Peterle (supported by entire right wint) with a landslide. Since Pahor is much stronger a political persona than Gaspari ever was, he could well pull it off and make it to the second round.

Enter the Türk

The Social Democrats are still embroiled in a messy election aftermath and haven’t even come to pointing fingers and calling names, which means they’ve still got some work to do. Which is why President Danilo Türk jumped the gun and announced his re-election bid last week. He did so not by calling a press conference, but ratehr by posting an on-line video on his website. Which was kind of cool, although the cerebral Türk never is entirely convincing in the role of “The Cool Prez”. What’s next? A Twitter account? 🙂

But be that as it may, the incumbent president wants to win the second (and last) term and is apparently not prepared to give too much ground to his challengers. Sure, like Pahor, Türk has his own set of problems. Zver will probably deliver the Huda Jama and Ertl Medal. The SDS will also probably revive their bogus impeachment charges.

Beating them sensless

On the other hand, Türk will probably beat his opponent sensless with the stick Zver’s very own SDS provided with the Archivegate fiasco and repeat that he was a target of a fabricated smear campaing even during his 2007 election bid. Bottom line? SDS doesn’t really have the means to oust Danilo Türk from office. Unless Borut Pahor helps by entering the race. And he’ll find it much more difficult to do so now that Türk beat him to the punch. What is crucial is that leader of Positive Slovenia Zoran Janković is backing Türk instead of Pahor. Which is not at all surprising, given the fact that Pahor himself hardly moved a finger to show gratitude to Janković for his support in 2008 parliamentary elections and then (supposedly) plotted to derail Janković’s PM bid after the shocking victory of Positive Slovenia in elections on 4 December 2011.

The way things stand now, Pahor would most likely be seen as taking on Türk due to prestige rather than policy differences. Sure, Pahor may appeat to be more conciliatory in nature (especially after a few non-diplomatc outbursts by the usually cerebral Türk), but by splitting the vote too much, he just may give Zver the advantage he needs to build some sort of a momentum. Because even though PM Janez Janša is obviously not seriously entertaining thoughts of holding the presidency via proxy, he will surely sieze the opportunity should one arise.

We’ll know by summer whether Pahor will run on not. He’ll probably do everything he can to run, but the party could stil nix him. Either way, political blood will be spilt. Oh, and Zmago Jelinčič (remember him?) of the Slovene National Party is running as well. 🙂

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