Bashing Luxembourg, Janša Goes Off At The Deep End

You may have missed it, but Luxembourg held its legislatives Sunday last. The politics of the tiny European country are not all that important for this blog (although pengovsky does dabble in Luxembourg over at Luxventures podcast, do check it out), but for some reason the Grand Duchy did catch the attention of the SDS leader Janez Janša the other day and made him fire off this pretty amazing tweet:

Janša bashing Luxembourg (source)

For those not versed in the Slovenian language, the Glorious leader tweeted, verbatim: ‘These people want to lecture us on the “erased”. About half of Lux residents do not have citizenship because they don’t speak Luxembourgish. They don’t have access to public sector jobs and are not allowed to vote. There are 256,000 people eligible to vote, which is less than 43 percent of the population.‘ If your mind was just blown, you’re not the only one….

Where to begin? First of all, let’s look at the timing. Friday, October 12, 4.14 AM. Dude, seriously, the fuck you doing up at 4 in the morning? I mean, it is literally the dead of the night. No-one except insomniacs is online in Muddy Hollows. I realise you’re trying to be more like Trump (bad idea, by the way. Sad.) but this is taking it to the extreme.

Second, why on Earth Luxembourg? When Janša fired off that tweet, the centre-right CSV was still widely presumed to be on its way back into power following five years of Xavier Bettel’s liberal-left “Gambia” coalition. Was Janša trying to kick a dead horse? And if so, did he jinx it? Namely, it turned out that Bettel’s coalition in fact survived the rout (courtesy of surging Green Party (déi Gréng)) and is poised to rule five more years, making his the first back-to-back non-CSV-led government in the country’s history.

On that note: it is ironic that the CSV should find itself in a position similar to Janša’s SDS, winning the most votes but ending up in opposition. Although it should be noted that the political landscape in Luxembourg is by several orders of magnitude more civil than in Muddy Hollows and that no-one, not even the CSV wants to touch the far-right ADR with a ten-foot pole. And that would be “far-right” in Luxembourgish terms where, compared to Hungary’s Orban, Italy’s Salvini or any other European nativist, the ADR are about as vanilla as Vanilla Ice is to Ice T.

Thirdly, how in the glorious fuck can you get your facts so monstrously wrong? I mean, I realise reality is something Janša has only occasional contact with, but getting just about everything wrong in a single tweet is an achievement unto itself.

Obviously, facts are of secondary importance in a tweet designed to stir up the base and maintain anger levels. And, yes, rage-tweeting is pretty much the only thing Janša does on Twitter these days. Having said that, however, the record should be set straight.

The one thing Janša does manage to get right is the number of non-citizen residents of Luxembourg. These amount to a staggering 48 percent of the entire population, by far the most of any EU country. But this has nothing to do with language. Luxembourg being an international financial, industrial and technological hub as well as one of the three EU capitals, attracts an incredible number of ex-pats, who by far and large come to work in the country for only a few years. And while a few stay longer, most people are rotated out of the country by the very organisations that have deployed them in the first place.

Comparing this to the sordid Slovenian saga of the Erased is like comparing apples to cement blocks. Being foreign nationals, ex-pats in Luxembourg obviously don’t vote in national elections, since citizenship is still a prerequisite to vote all over the world. But unlike the Erased in Slovenia, expatriates in Luxembourg have been stripped of nothing. They maintain their original citizenship, enjoy access to state services and are eligible for a number of state and or local incentives aimed at improving quality of life. In contrast, the Erased in Slovenia were a non-entity, without any sort of medical or social coverage, access to education or indeed basic state functions. As far as the state was concerned, they didn’t exist for a long while. Think the recent Windrush scandal in the UK, only much more systemic and brutal. And back in the early naughts Janša was hell-bent on keeping it that way.

And as for public sector jobs, all EU nationals are eligible to work for the Luxembourgish State. Luxembourgish citizenship is required only in positions of national interest and exercise of public authority (e.g. elected officials). This is more or less the norm all across the EU. Indeed, a solid command of the three official languages of Luxembourg is required, but guess what? So it is in Slovenia. Who would have thought…

I realise Janša may have trouble grasping the concept of an ex-pat, but it really shouldn’t be that hard for an intelligent guy who leads the largest party in the parliament. Ex-pats are foreign nationals who live and work in Luxembourg. As such they don’t have a right to vote in the country but they can vote in their country of origin (for the most part). And even that is not entirely accurate as EU nationals have the right to vote in local and European elections in their place of residence within EU regardless of their actual citizenship.

Moreover, the path to Luxembourgish citizenship is almost comically easy. One simply has to reside in Luxembourg for a total period of five years (continuously for the last year before applying), pass a civics test and an entry-level language test. And this is considered as a compromise between a more hard-core seven-year-requirement that was in place until last year and an attempt to actually enfranchise foreign nationals in Luxembourg legislatives, when a law giving the ex-pats the right to vote in national elections was passed in 2015 but then resoundingly defeated in a referendum.

Compare this to the conditions for acquiring Slovenian citizenship, which include but are not limited to ten years of Slovenian residence, of which the last five must be continuous as well as having a legal alien status, a Slovenian language test as well as relinquishing previous citizenship (or prove intent thereof upon gaining Slovenian citizenship), and you see that Janša is once again applying a thick coat of double standards to an otherwise completely imaginary issue.

As for the final number of “only” 256,000 people being able to vote, the number that Janša wants to present as borderline-criminal is actually the entire complement of adult citizens of Luxembourg. That’s it.

The overall irony of Janša’s tweeting excrement is obvious and twofold. First, after almost thirty years, Janša – perhaps inadvertently – finally came to embrace the term “the Erased”. Until now he very diligently framed this group of people as “the so-called Erased”, “traitors”, “the fifth column” or used any other phrase that effectively delegitimised the plight of the 26.000+ individuals whose human rights were as per an ECHR ruling systematically violated.

And secondly, the Glorious Leader unfairly accuses another country of that which he himself was arguing for wholeheartedly for over two decades. Nativism, xenophobia and exclusion of non-citizens from a plethora of civic engagement was and still is bread-and-butter of SDS rhetoric. Which means Janša should be positively thrilled at the policies he alleges Luxembourg employs. The fact that Luxembourg doesn’t and Janša isn’t, suggest that the whole thing is but a poor excuse for Luxembourg-bashing due to something completely different.

And one just has to scroll over his Twitter timeline to realise just what might that be.

With SDS more or less being a wholly-owned subsidiary of Viktor Orban’s Fidesz, none of this should come as a surprise, however. Ever since people in Orban’s close orbit propped up SDS’s failing media projects with heaps of money, Janša and his party discovered that the main threat to Slovenia are not networks of old Communists (as a former communist himself, the Glorious Leader is of course uniquely adept at recognising those) but rather hordes of migrants who have come to take our women (seriously, why just women?) and steal our jobs and suck of the benefits at the same time (the case of the Schroedinger’s migrant).

You will not be surprised that – as per his tweets – Janša is now firmly of the opinion that this whole upheaval is orchestrated by none other than George Soros, aided and abetted by former Slovenian president Milan Kučan (so it is the old Communists, then?).

This, obviously, meant that Slovenian SDS MEPs, who are members of the EPP political group in the European parliament were among the handful of group members who voted against the Sargentini report which detailed the case for activating Article 7 of the EU treaty against the government of Viktor Orban.

Janez Janša must pay fealty to his Hungarian overlord time and time again, especially now, when he failed to gain power and establish a net-positive ROI on the hefty sums spent on propping up Janša, SDS and the political landscape they occupy (pun very much intended).

And if that means Janez Janša being untruthful, taking data out of context and presenting it in a disingenuous way, well, that’s just par for the course to him.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.