Despite resigning in writing and in no uncertain terms, Aleš Hojs continued as interior minister in the Janša government. This, in spite of the deadline set forth in the parliamentary rules and procedures which state that the PM is required to notify the parliament of the resignation within seven days of a minister’s resignation.
As it is the parliament that appoints the ministers, this requirement is not a mere formality. The notification of resignation is to start the constitutional clock on nominating and ultimately appointing a new minister. As of Wednesday, at 0000 hrs, no such notification was forthcoming, meaning Aleš Hojs still gets to be driven in a fancy car with a security detail.
Jokes of Schrödinger’s Hojs apart, the notion that a prime minister would not fulfill one of his basic constitutional duties, that is to say, keeping the parliament formally appraised of the state of his government, is pretty fucking wild. So, what gives?
Broadly speaking there are two ways of looking at it: either the Glorious Leader fucked up, or he didn’t. And in a true Leninist fashion that we’ve come to expect of a Janša government, both options are worse.
Busy Janša missed the deadline
This would be bad. I mean, on a scale of one to botched masks procurement, this would arguably be on the lower end of the spectrum. Also, the PM is a busy man and things get bumped off of his schedule all the tam. I mean, running the government is difficult and all that, but then there are tweets to be tweeted and circle-jerks to attend and pretty soon he’s out of time.
However, it only takes about five seconds to forward an email to the speaker of the parliament. Four, if he’s got his email address in Autofill. How fucking hard can it be?
So, no – this wasn’t a screw up. If it were, The Glourious Leader would have sent the notification and apologise for missing the deadline. Instead, he’s holding the notification up on purpose.
A political master-stroke
Some say that this was a genius move by the PM to get interior minister Hojs off the hook in the parliamentary interpellation (no-confidence) vote this week. This is wrong.
While the item was indeed taken off the agenda for this month’s parliament session, this was simply yet another case of the opposition getting overexcited and shooting off too early.
Moving to take the item off the agenda before the parliament received a formal notification of Hojs’s resignation was a rookie mistake and by now these people really should know better.
That said, the PM not notifying the parliament of a minister resigning is a first, so the opposition might be forgiven for lack of foresight. But still, how stupid can you be to voluntarily let go of leverage?
Pushing the coalition envelope
However, by pulling this stunt Janša did signaled that his is a one-man government. His ministers should not expect their operational authority will be respected and whatever call they make, they always run the risk of being overruled by the Glorious Leader. If this is true for such basis stuff as resignations and appointments you can be sure it is true for more complex policy calls as well.
It is entirely possible that the primary motive for this power move is subjugate and humiliate his coalition even further. This, of course, is vintage Janša. He likes to keep people (his own, and the people in general) in limbo, and have them guessing what his next move will be.
You can check out any time you like but you can never leave
During a media gaggle before Tuesday’s cabinet session, Aleš Hojs was asked outright if he still is the minister of interior or not and he responded with a shrug and it was probably the most honest thing he has done in the past four months. Because he really doesn’t know.
It must be weird to resign “effective immediately”, have your resignation accepted by the The Man and then not to be sure of your status.
Basically, serving in a Janša government is like living in Hotel California. You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.
And you can be sure every other minister is taking note of this.
Flipping off the parliament
But ultimately, the Glorious Leader is challenging the parliament. What he is trying to do here is to force the notion that the ministers serve at the pleasure of the prime minister and not at the pleasure of the parliament.
While there is some practical political merit to this idea, this not how the Slovenian constitution works and Janša knows this full well.
So, by not sending to parliament notice of a resignation he had already accepted, as he is required, the prime minister is eschewing parliamentary control of the executive branch. Or, to put it in general terms, he is ignoring the basic democratic principle of checks and balances between branches of power.
This, of course, is vintage Janša.