A Fistful of Votes*

The election campaign entered its final week but there’s still plenty of time to fuck up. Not that there haven’t been a few notable fuck-up already. But first, ze numbers!

Polls normalised to 100 percent. Check below for up to date interactive chart.

As you can see, Miro Cerar Party (SMC) maintains a strong lead over SDS which in turn maintaining an equally strong lead over everyone else. True, the last poll shows a bounce for Janša’s SDS, but it should be noted that we’re dealing with a Večer poll here, which as a rule feature a significant phase-shift to the right. And while forecasting exact numbers is a tricky business, it is more or less that barring a meltdown of epic proportions, Miro Cerar Party will come out as the relative victor on Sunday. It is also more or less a given that the SDS will come in second with DeSUS of Karl Erjavec and Social Democrats of Dejan Židan competing for third position, while NSi looks poised to take the fifth spot and be the last party that can reasonably expect making it above the 4-percent treshold.

5k votes between heaven and hell

Then there are a few toss-ups. SLS, PS and Alenka Bratušek Alliance (ZAAB) could make it above 4% given helpful voter turnout, vote dispersion and correct alignment of planets. Which is why PM Bratušek switched to full-attack mode in the last couple of days, reversing her government’s privatisation policies and crying foul all the way to the Vatican about Slovene Roman Catholic Church meddling with Slovene judiciary over prison sentence for SDS leader Janez Janša.

Bratušek’s party polled between 2.21 and 5.22 percent, depending on the pollster and date of the poll. On average (and due to voting system peculiarities, this is only a broad estimate) this puts her at 3.77 percent, less than three tenths of a percent or about 5000 votes below the threshold, which is not an unachieavable goal. And this is why she is willing to do just about anything to win them, including throw away whatever credibility she had won with the international markets and commit a diplomatic faux-pas with the Holy See.

While her letter to the Vatican is much more embarrassing, it was her decision to “freeze” further privatisation plans (in effect kicking them down the road for the new government to pick up) that sent a bit of a shock-wave internationally. Understandably so. It once again painted Slovenia as a less-than-credible country with unpredictable government policies and little-to-no guarantees of pledges being honoured. And while governments are expected to change policies which prove themselves to have negative impact, it is unacceptable for PM Bratušek to run around financial capitals of the world professing her commitment to privatisation only to (supposedly) announce a U-turn two months later.

But on the upside, since the privatisation plan was passed by the parliament in a form of a law, any meaningful changes to it must be made as a novelation of this law and not by a government directive. But apparently, the move has had at least some effect, with highest bidders for Slovenian Telekom reportedly withdrawing their bids (which, in turn, apparently again puts Deutsche Telekom back in the game, which is probably one of the reasons Brussels-am-Berlin is still mum on the issue, election campaign notwithstanding).

Similarly, her outrage over statements of Bishop Andrej Glavan on Patria case aftermath is, objectively speaking, more of a cause for embarrassment than cause for admiration. I mean, yes, the stuff the caretaker of Ljubljana Diocese said are unacceptable. Comparing the trial of Janez Janša to communist show-trials is obscene, especially after all the leniency Janša enjoyed during the corruption trial as well as in serving his two-year prison sentence. But the Slovenian Church is stil reeling from the financial scandal of, well, biblical proportions which is why pope Francis beheaded the leadership of Slovenian Church and has yet to name a new one. And pressing the issue of a caretaker bishop stepping out of line is surely not going to impress the Vatican in any way, shape or form.

Now, if Bratušek really sought to express her outrage over Glavan’s comments to the Vatican, she’d have done so using back-channels. This is the sort of thing serious diplomacies appreciate. No shouting matches, no pressing against the wall. Just a gentle reminder about an unfortunate event that normally would not even bear mentioning, but since both sides care about rule of law and corruption charges…. But just as with privatisation issue, Bratušek here doesn’t really care about Bishop Glavan or what the Vatican thinks of him. But she does care about the fistful of votes this might bring her and hopefully push her above the four percent threshold. Consequences will be dealt with later on. Quite possibly by someone else.

Someone else in this case looks more and more to take the form of Miro Cerar, the constitutional legal expert who formed a party named after himself (SMC) and stormed to the very top of the polls. In this he seems to have tapped the sweetspot, where he is to his voters what they want him to be. He achieved this by reducing his political platform to a set of slogans that are difficult not to agree with but at the same time being careful not to make any serious policy commitments.

Looking the other way, trying not to insult anyone

Case in point being their refusal to sign a document pushed by the LGBT community which states signatory parties agree LGBT people are entitled to full scope of rights enjoyed by their heterosexual compatriots. SMC evaded the issue for days on end, finally stating “they refuse to support human rights of only specific groups” and added that everyone is entitled to basic human rights (link in Slovenian).

Cerar, a constitutional expert, is willing to overlook the most basic of human-rights principles, one which is enshrined in the EU basic principles as well: namely, that different personal circumstances require different approaches and that one-shoe-fits-all approach is far from appropriate especially with regard to human rights. Yes, everyone is entitled to them, but personal circumstances, be they of religious, social, sexual or whatever nature, put different people in different positions with regard to “universality” of human rights. Basics. Cerar knows that. But he chose to look the other way.

It is painfully obvious the SMC is desperately trying to offend no-one. At the very least no-one who is likely to vote for them. And polling at 40 percent of decideds, that’s a lot of people to potentially insult. Luckily for Cerar, the LGBT issue didn’t get enough traction for left-wing or progressive parties to exploit against him, but is was a good reminder of just how non-existent his political platform is. And even more lucky for him, the campaign ends in five four days and if there is an attempt at an “October Surprise“, it most definitely won’t be policy-oriented but more likely a smear-attack. Especially, since Cerar’s (potential) electorate is said to be of fickle nature.

Supreme truth

Either that or the Supreme Court will rule in the Patria case before Sunday, which will additionally mobilise the SDS faithful, already in a frenzy over their glorious leader and holder of the supreme truth being behind bars. Note that the nature of the decision is irrelevant. If the Supreme Court orders a retrial, SDS will double down its efforts before election Sunday, just as it will if sentence against Janša is confirmed for the second time. That it takes the Supreme Court two weeks (gasp!) to deliber on the issue is driving them crazy.


Hat-tip re post title: @Svarun_K

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.