Positive Slovenia is again dogged by MP problems. After it transpired that durng Cold War the gentleman journalist Mitja Meršol, MP did some legwork for Yugoslav secret service on the side, the party was again faced with a problematic MP. This time it is Borut Ambrožič who while writing his M.A. thesis on asbestos allegedly copied (well, stole) large portions of another student’s B.A. thesis.
Borut Ambrožič, still-sitting MP (photo: Leon Vidic/Delo)
Thus Ambrožič joins an ever longer line of Slovenian MPs cutting one corner too many. Specifically he finds himself in the dubious company of Branko Marinić (SDS) and Ivan Simčič (DeSUS) who have had their own educational misconduct uncovered in the past couple of years. Marinić was found guilty of swapping identities when taking a German exam (someone else tried to take the test for him) while Simčič was discovered to have falsified his high-school graduation certificate (the statute of limitation expired by the time this was made public and no charges were pressed).
Admittedly, there seems to be a lot of trigger-happy copy-pasting going around these days. But unlike former German defense minsiter Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, former vice-president or European Parliament Silvana Koch-Mehrin or former Hungarian President Pal Schmitt, Ambrožič didn’t see it fit to resign his post.
In this he followed rather sorry examples of Marinič, Simčič and even Meršol but with one important caveat. This time around Ambrožič was urged to quit by his own party. Which is almost a first in Slovenia. In 2006, during Janša government 1.0, an SDS MP Pavel Rupar resigned his post after a highly publicised corruption scandal (which also included his ex-lover). But as of late, it is the politicians academic credentials that have become, well, game, for journos to take pot shots at. What sets Ambrožic case apart from every other case in Slovenian politics thus far is the fact that Ambrožič was asked by PS leader Zoran Janković to quit (well, probably told to quit, but not in so many words), but he refused.
You see, under the constitution an MP is not bound by whatever instructions the party or anyone else may have for him. In short, they are free to decice for themselves what to do politically and how to do it. This, of course, includes the execution of their mandate. It is logical for it to be so. MPs are representative of the people. Plural, in both cases. No matter how many or how few MPs there are, all of them together and every one of them individually act as representatives of the entire population. Sure, most of the votes are taken along the party or coalition lines, but whenever a push comes to shove, an MP can decide to defy party policy.
Which is something Ambrožič was keen to give the appearance of. But in reality, he did everything wrong. He denied any wrongdoing although the case against him appears solid (computer analysis shows the original B.A. thesis was copied by as much as 97%). When pressed, he claimed that it was all a media campaign against him directed by sinister forces. And when his arm was being twisted, he said that it was for the party to decide what to do. Which is of course pure bullshit. The party can not recall him. Nor can the voters (barring new elections, of course). What Ambrožič pretends not to understand is that the responsibility for his political actions rests solely with him. “Pretends” because he is fully aware of the fact that he can not be forced to quit, but shirks away from making a decision because that is what he thinks guarantees political survival.
And this is the point. MPs are not elected to not make decisions. Exactly the opposite. This doesn’t mean their decisions are sound or even logical, but they are there to make them. Of their own accord or via party directive. Again, it doesn’t really matter (not in this case, anyhow). Even Branko Marinič and Ivan Simčič understood that when they chose to weather it out and not resign. They did, however, both enjoy at least tacit support from their respective parties. Ambrožič, on the other hand, is making it his business to be everyone else’s business. The party doesn’t want him any more which means that he should at least have the decency to leave the PS parliamentary group, if he can’t muster the courage to quit for real (or prove his innocence and shove it down his former party’s throat). Bottom line, he wants decisions to be made for him, so he doesn’t have to.
And this is the basic test of any parliamentarian. You can’t make decisions? You’ve no business in the parliament. If not for copy-pasting his thesis, it is for inability to take decisions that Ambrožič should definitely get the
fuck funk out of the parliament.