Election in Slovenia Less Than A Year Away

If pengovsky’s calculations are correct the good people of Muddy Hollows will go to the poll in less than a year. The 2022 election season is upon us and Janez Janša-led coalition has less than 365 days left. Perhaps a lot less.

Photo of a ballot box used in Slovenian election.
Standard issue ballot box in Muddy Hollows

In fact, Slovenians will go to the polls in exactly a month. Not be to elect new people’s representatives but to vote in a referendum on a controversial Waters Act. Still, the political parties are already in full-on campaign mode.

The law says that parliamentary elections in Muddy Hollows are to be held no earlier than sixty days before four years have passed from the inaugural session of the outgoing parliament. Conversely, elections must be held no later than fifteen days before the four-year mark.

This effectively puts the 2022 parliamentary election day somewhere between 3 April and 5 June. Less than a year from now.

Electoral mechanics

The job of calling the parliamentary election and setting the date is technically exclusively within the purview of the president. Usually, however, The Prez consults with parliamentary parties as well as the State Electoral Commission before deciding on dates and issuing decrees.

Or, in the case of president Pahor, asking Marshal Twito when he’d like his election and then working with that.

That said, if the current parliament would somehow happen to complete its term in full, the most probable date for the vote is also the last possible date, 5 June 2022.

By then, thee EU Council presidency and its successes or (just as likely) disasters will have already been forgotten. Moreover, individual MPs, many of whom will never again see the inside of the parliament, will want to extend their considerable paychecks for as long as possible.

However, odds are the current parliament will not complete its term. Not with the political clusterfuck that is present in the National Assembly.

That would make this the fourth term in a row that ended before the full four years were up. True, the Miro Cerar term of 2014-2018 was shortened by only three weeks, but hey, statistics, right?

Getting to an early election

A situation where adoption or rejection of laws and other measures depends on whether individual MPs have dentists appointments, are on sick leave or are otherwise indisposed, is untenable and can only be resolved by an early election.

But Slovenian parliament cannot legally self-dissolve. The constitution simply does not provide for it. In fact, the only way to get the National Assembly to dissolve (and have a snap poll) is either for PM Janša to resign or to lose a confidence vote.

There is literally no other fucking way to do that.

To put it another way, unless he lets the clock run out, Glorious Leader holds all the cards with regard to electoral dynamics.

Unless, of course, he stumbles into a government collapse.

This could happen is the parliament refused to appoint a replacement justice minister within three months of Lilijana Kozlovič resigning. But while there is a non-zero chance of that happening, this scenario is not terribly likely.

Campaigning liberally

As things stand now, the political class is in a sort of suspended limbo. And not just because of the upcoming EU Council presidency.

With neither the ruling coalition nor the opposition being able to secure a majority in the parliament, the political parties have settled into a series of proxy fights. These mostly amount to testing messaging, probing weak spots of the competition and securing a better starting position for when the clock starts ticking.

Almost everywhere you look, you can see a frenzy of activity. LMŠ and its boss Marjan Šarec, for example are shuttling around all over the country. They grant interviews to whoever will have them and organise town-halls like there’s no tomorrow.

Alenka Bratušek’s SAB, are trying to keep up the pace. But they are a much smaller party with significantly less funds at their disposal. As such, they mostly limit themselves to media appearances and focus of the party leader. It’s always Alenka Bratušek this, madam party president that… It will be interesting to see which of the two opposition liberal parties will get more bang for their buck.

My little tank

Speaking of bangs for bucks, the NSi is doing both and hoping it will catch on. With bucks, they are changing the welfare system in a way that puts more money into their voters’ pockets, at the expense of almost everyone else.

As for bangs, the NSi leader and defence minister Matej Tonin managed to channel Lieutenant Gruber, Michael Dukakis and bukkake porn into one wholesome photo-session that will likely haunt him for the rest of his political career. Which may come sooner than he expects.

Having others do your work

There is one party, however, that doesn’t really need to campaign. Right now, Levica is very happy with the SDS and NSi making their electoral argument for them.

Attempts by The Party and its faithful satellite to debate and censure Levica on account of its platform backfired spectacularly. Not only were they not successful, they managed to put Levica leadership on every news programme, allowing them to make their anti-capitalist pitch to a national audience.

This also allowed the party to fine-tune their controversial positions on private ownership months before this could have developed into a real headache.

That is not to say, however, that the SDS’s fiasco with attacking Levica did not have its uses.

Election A/B testing

Pengovsky still maintains that last week’s Red Scare was a wag the dog moment for Janša’s party. But it could also have been, at least in part, a bit of A/B testing, seeing which campaign themes resonate with the electorate.

Both readers All three readers will remember that The Party tried something along these lines before the 2018 election. Back then, they first pushed a health-focused narrative but it didn’t stick. So they went with the other option and started trafficking in anti-refugee and anti-migrant scaremongering. Naturally, that worked better.

Ironically, health and related subjects will most likely dominate the 2022 election season. In which case the SDS will probably desperately want to talk about something else. Anything else. And if talking about communism doesn’t do the trick, they will need to come up with something else. So, watch this space.

As for the rest: Zmago Jelinčič’s nationalist mostly limiting themselves to the electoral version of basic cable. That is, campaigning with a couple of posters and all the TV freebies enjoyed by a parliamentary party. And with SMC and DeSUS more or less relegated to the has-been column, the only real mystery is the SD. Social Democrats are sending mixed signals regarding their attitude to snap election. Lately, they seem to have landed on the-sooner-the-better side of things, but their electoral footprint doesn’t yet show it.

Keeping powder dry

It could be that the party is too busy with trying to take over DeSUS. Or at least parts of it, as the grapevine has it. Then again, maybe they are keeping their heads down and powder dry.

Namely, there was finally movement (after more than a decade!) in TEŠ 6 scandal, the one story that could land SD in some serious shit, voter-wise. So they may want to stay out of focus for as much as, and as long as possible.

But even so, they can’t hide forever and they seem to have shifted gears in the last day or so and are starting to roll out specific campaign planks and draft policies.

The upshot

The 2022 election campaign in Muddy Hollows has already begun. The stakes are high, some will not make it and unlike the last time, nobody wants to be caught with their pants down.

The upcoming EU presidency may turn out to be a bit of a PR boon for Marshal Twito. On the other hand, he and his party will be hampered by all the limelight and the attention they will be getting during the next six months.

As of last week(-ish) everything that happens in Muddy Hollows politically should be seen through an election prism.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.