Well, this is getting really old really fast. It seems that prime minister Marjan Šarec lost yet another minister today. The latest person to have bid adieu to the government was health minister Samo Fakin.
In a somewhat ironic twist of fate, health minister Fakin is stepping down due to – health reasons. Curiously, however, the official medical explanation given seems to be somewhat too pedestrian to merit a resignation.
While nothing to be scoffed at, pneumonia and bronchitis are not exactly resignation-grade illnesses.
Of course it is entirely possible Fakin suffers from an underlying condition that he chose to focus on and not make public.
His not being a top-tier positions, Fakin had no obligation, legal or traditional, to present a clean bill of health to the public before taking over (although, hopefully, he kept the PM fully appraised at all times).
Hoever, only time will tell if this was the only reason or did the soon-to-be-ex minister quit because he came to the conclusion that the cesspool that is the Slovenian health sector is simply not worth the tool it would take on his mental and physical health.
Something tells pengovsky that it’s a bit of the former and a whole lot of the latter that is the case.
Be that as it may, the entire episode is a stark reminder that Šarec’s badass attitude towards mercilessly ejecting ministers from their positions had one huge drawback:
Sometimes life happens and capable ministers quit as well.
As it happens, a little more than six months into his term, PM Šarec replace or had to replace a sixth of his entire ministerial complement. By any standard, this is a huge number.
Keep in mind, this is not some sort of mid-term cabinet reshuffle or a crumbling coalition. Quite the opposite.
Only days ago, the Šarec-led minority government has agreed the 2019 version of vote-providing agreement with far-left Levica. Albeit after a brief stand-off that mostly included Levica virtue signalling and trying to convince the base that it had not sold out to Šarec.
The government just had the budget passed in the parliament, Šarec secured the votes and is now free to deal with items on his political agenda.
Instead, he has to deal with yet another recruitment issue.
We saw a bit of this dawning on the PM when he had to let minister of environment go the other day. Šarec made it no secret that he’d rather Jure Leben remained in his post, but recognised that it would set a very bad case of double standards.
And now, with minister of health Fakin also quitting, Marjan Šarec is in fact looking for two replacement ministers simultaneously.
And he would have technically made it three had the parliament not appointed Zoran Poznič as the new culture minister earlier today
That the government is not seen as inherently unstable at this point is purely the function of parliamentary mathematics, as there is simply no way to form any other coalition, minority or otherwise.
Unless, of course, a number of smaller parties were to jointly break the only mandate they were clearly given at the polls and go in bed with Janez Janša and his SDS. But since Viktor Orban’s biggest Slovenian fan has problems of his own, this is not a realistic scenario at the moment.
However, even though Šarec’s position as PM is relatively safe and regardless of the fact that his government could probably function well enough even without the explicit support of Levica, the fact is that the clock is ticking.
Even if we disregard the looming EU vote which will by definition temporarily eat into the parties’ policy-making ability, fact of the matter is that this government (any government for that matter) basically ceases to function at least six months prior to the next election.
Which means that Šarec has three years left at best (and likely less than that) to enact whatever policy goals he has set for himself and his government.
If polls are to be believed, the prime minister and his government are breaking popularity records right now. But the only high-octane political action we’re seeing is ministers dropping like flies.
It’s time to hustle.