As expected, Ljubljana mayor and leader of the opposition Positive Slovenia Zoran Janković rejected the findings of anti-graft commission which released its bomb-shell report yesterday. Indeed, Jay-Z made his case today con mucho gusto. He maintained that no specific corruption was found in his case, stressed that he was at the commission’s disposal to clarify details if need be, that his personal assets have not increased unduly and that all of it has traceable origins. Obviously, he also ruled out the possibility of his resignation. As a bonus, the executive council of Positive Slovenia did not even take confidence vote, thus going the whole nine yards for Janković. And while we’re at it: in a confidence vote by council of his SDS, Janez Janša won 98,6 percent of the vote (281 out of 285). So, no surprises there. Yawn.
Zoki wrapping up his remarks. Photo by The Firm™
Now, it must be said that Janković did a slightly better job at explaining himself on telly this evening than Janša did last night. And that despite the fact that the anchor was the same one which kid-gloved Janša. Tonight she actually tried to press Jay-Z on a couple of points, but by the time he got on the air he got his story straight enough to go sail the programme like hot knife through butter (sail, knife, butter? Pengovsky, really? :-o) He whizzed through the numbers, made a couple of off-handed remarks about how he knows to crunch the numbers and reiterated that his assets have not increased, they’ve only changed in form (loans were returned, shares were bought, et cetera).
Throughout the day Zoran Janković refused to concede a single point made in the report. And if one was very generous, one might even say Janković is correct. At least asset-wise. But what the commission states in no unclear terms is that Janković was repeatedly exposed to a high-level risk of corruptible behaviour and has indeed made this risk worse by his actions. Specifically, by having his sons every so often return part of the 8 million euro loan he effectively granted them by deferring payment when they bought his company Electa off of him and at the same time allowing the company to partake in financial transactions which included firms doing business with the city of Ljubljana or (indirectly) the city itself.
Janković maintains that no corruptive activities have taken place. Indeed, the report stops short of even hinting at such activities. OK, so Zoki is under criminal investigation for some of these activities since late September. But that’s not really the point, is it? What in pengovsky’s opinion the commission is trying to say is that not only must there be no corruption, but that elected officials must actively avoid situation where the possibility of such corruption activities existed. Janković responded by saying (more or less) this risk is always present. Which is true. But it would be awfully nice if this risk were as low as possible. For example, by not having the company your kids own do business with firms you deal with as mayor. It could be that everyone plays by the book but it don’t look very nice.
But come what may, Janković is standing ground and will not yield an inch, let alone a yard. And that has its own inner logic. Ideally, a politician resigns when the burden of fighting off allegations prevents him from doing his job effectively. He/she clears up the mess and goes back in action squeaky clean. However, this being Slovenia and all, a resignation is viewed as practically the same as admission of guilt. Just ask Katarina Kresal. Janez Janša probably did the same math and came up with the same result. Which is why both leaders have not shied away from astonishingly unanimous support by their respective parties and have had other people denounce the commission for overreaching and/or not doing its job properly.
On this note: the outburst by MP for Positive Slovenia Maša Kociper who went squarely against the commission saying that it did not execute due process and that such things have been known to have been politically motivated. Now, we’ve become used to statements like this from the people over at SDS and fellow travellers. Indeed, we have heard them. Today and yesterday. Plenty of them. But apparently even Maša Kociper whom Janković tipped as his choice for the president of the parliament back in 2011, could not resist the urge. Which is a shame, really.
So, what we have here is in fact a political Mexican stand-off Slovenia style. Neither Janša nor Janković will resign, but their posses are screaming bloody murder demanding the other guy quits. Lovely, innit? Add to that the predictable but nevertheless disgusting manoeuvres by Janša and his team about how Slovenia will come to a standstill if his government is not allowed to continue (and that whoever brought it down better know what they are doing) and you see that Friday will be much fun indeed.