Strange Bedfellows

Politics, as they say, makes for strange bedfellows. Doubly so in Muddy Hollows, where 2020 has, among other disasters, served the country with the notion of Karl Erjavec as a serious contender for the PM post. It’s not that Erjavec doesn’t have qualifications for the job, at least on paper. It’s that it wasn’t that long ago that people were willing to drown him in his own spit for what they correctly perceived as his self-centered, arrogant and destructive politicking at the expense of everyone else.

DeSUS is *this* close to bailing on the Glorious Leader

And now that DeSUS leadership has voted to quit the government of Janez Janša, Komeback Karl is being hailed as the last, best hope for Muddy Hollows to finally turn the corner in the fucking mess that is the second wave of Covid-19 epidemic coupled with an increasingly illiberal government. This, of course, speaks volumes of the sad state this country has found itself in since the Glorious Leader announced victory in mid-May.

Obviously, outside of Danish political dramas the leader of the smallest (potential) coalition partner would have no business running the government. But with 1 in 930 Slovenians already dead on account of Covid-19 (that number is going to get even worse by Christmas), and no clear front-runner among the KUL coalition members, the top job goes to the one who can deliver the goods. Which, in this case, means 46+ votes in a 90-seat parliament.

Importantly, Karl Erjavec has not yet delivered the goods. And there is still every chance that he fails to do that. But with today’s decision of the party’s politburo he already came closer than many people thought he would.

Things, however, are not entirely up to him.

Now that he has secured the backing of the party, Komeback Karl must secure the cooperation of the party’s parliamentary group as well. Whether or not he can do this will presumably become apparent on Friday. That is, today. But as pengovsky noted the last time around, the balance of power between KVE and his MPs is much more equal than it used to be in the olden days. In fact, only days ago DeSUS MPs put the kibosh on Erjavec designs to quit the Janša government toute de suite, opting instead for checking all the boxes before things start happening.

Non-linear mechanics

On one hand, Thursday’s exercise was meant for Karl to demonstrate to his MPs that he can (and will) rally the party’s base behind him. On the other hand, this was meant as a signal for the SMC

Namely, SMC boss and minister of economy Zdravko Počivalšek was clear that he is quite comfortable in Janša’s government, thank you very much. However, not all SMC MPs feel that way, apparently. And with Erjavec starting to get his ducks in a row, FOMO factor will be strong with elements of the party.

To put it bluntly, if SMC is not at the table if and when Erjavec clinches the 46 votes he needs, they will be consigned to rotting in the opposition, its MPs picked off one by one, as election approaches.

On the flip side, however, getting to 46 votes without SMC would be that much harder for Erjavec who would probably have to rely on Zmago Jelinčič’s nationalist party. It can be done, but it is best avoided.

Thus, both Erjavec and the SMC (or parts thereof) have the incentive to strike a deal. But seeing as none would move first, for fear or weakening their already weakish bargaining positions, a generator of political Brownian motion, to excite the particles in this equation.

And since there was no nice, hot cup of tea around, apparently, Erjavec getting his shit together may be the next best thing.

Marshalling the Tweeto

Political equations are by their very definition non-linear. And much of the above drivel rests on the notion that the Glorious Leader will do next to nothing while his challenger crosses the i’s and dots the t’s.

Marshal Tweeto, a moniker PM Janša is increasingly acquiring around the world is obviously not in the habit of sitting on his ass and waiting for things to happen. He has already asked DeSUS ministers Tomaž Gantar (health) and Jože Podgoršek (agriculture) to either pay fealty or get the fuck out of his administration.

Importantly, however, he has not moved to dismiss them, as this would require a vote in the parliament. This in turn suggests that the PM is much less sure of this position in the parliament as he would like other people to think.

Indeed, if DeSUS MPs support bailing on Janša, the Glorious Leader would be left with a minority government (SDS+SMC+NSi = 41 votes), no matter how hard defense minister and NSi leader Matej Tonin tries to maintain that the government still has 47 votes.

Namely, three of those votes come from Zmago Jelinčič’s SNS, two are provided by Hungarian and Italian minority MPs, while one would be provided by renegade DeSUS MP Robert Polnar. Which means that as of today Marshall Tweeto is maintainting his grip on power via a a confidence and supply agreement, not unlike what Marjan Šarec had in place while he was running the show. It would seem that the fate loves irony.

Newton’s Third Law

That said, nothing should be taken for granted, as every action generates equal and opposite reaction.

Specifically, even if the KUL opposition bloc (LMŠ, SD, SAB, Levica and possibly DeSUS) were to move for a no-confidence vote, the parliament could take it up in ten days’ time at the earliest.

This gives PM Janša a relatively comfortable window to pull some counter moves, which may include cajoling, sweet-talking, threatening or bribing DeSUS and SMC MPs into sticking with him.

More importantly, Janša could try and derail a no-confidence vote by moving for a confidence vote himself.

Namely, while a no-confidence vote is solely within the parliament’s purview (one administration is replaced by another), a lost vote of confidence sets off a chain of constitutionally mandated events that can gum up the works for weeks.

For while Erjavec would be waiting in the wings, president Pahor would have to get involved, holding meetings and consultations (which he loves to do), all the while keeping Janša’s hobbled government in power in a caretaker capacity.

Even more, if Janša called for a vote of confidence without kicking DeSUS ministers out first, he would put its MPs in the unenviable position of voting against their own ministers, which would not be a good look for the party of the would-be PM.

Historical precedent

The last time that happened, Janez Drnovšek lost his majority and the government in the spring of 2000, but then came roaring back with a landslide electoral victory seven months later.

Then again, Drnovšek was also the first would be PM to succeed with a no-confidence challenge, replacing Lojze Peterle in 1992, in what was the third attempt at bringing down that particular government.

Point here being that the current shitshow in Muddy Hollows is far from over and that the first no-confidence vote against Janša may not be the last.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.