Borut Pahor And Election Deflection

Some ten days ago, president Pahor announced his intention to schedule parliamentary election in Muddy Hollows for Sunday, 24 April 2022. Ordinarily, this would have been huge fucking news. And it was. For about fifteen minutes.

Ballot box used in Slovenian elections.
The ballot box. The image is not yet purely symbolic.

Careful observers, however, noted almost immediately that the language Pahor used was, well, Pahoresque. That, in fact, the announcement was not really an announcement. Rather, it was an announcement of an announcement of an intention. That is was, en bref, a load of bullshit with the sole aim of deflecting heat off the back of PM Janez Janša.

The Glorious Leader is, to put it delicately, in deep shit. His parliamentary majority has a return period of an Oort Cloud object. His government coalition is holding on by a thread. And the country he runs is about to hit just hit the grim milestone of 1 in 400 Slovenians dying of Covid-19. Things are no bueno.

The optimistic scenario

In fact, the closer look one takes, the more fucked up things become. Two ministers in his government (both SMC) face impeachment hearings in the next few days, and a third one might not make it until the end of the month. And that is the optimistic scenario.

Having survived an earlier attempt to remove her from office, this week will not be education minister Simona Kustec’s first rodeo.

Despite being detached from reality (convinced she is doing a bang up job, she plans to run for elected office again), and the reign of confusion about Covid-19 testing in schools, Kustec is still in a far better position than her colleague over at the ministry of justice.

Dikaučič disaster

Marjan Dikaučič is probably ruing the day his ambition outgrew his ineptitude and he accepted the nomination to the post. In between then and now, he managed to land squarely in a middle of a court-ordered criminal investigation into tax evasion. In addition, he has been refusing to pay communal duties for his house in the wider Celje region. How fucking petty is that?

But while Dikaučič said days ago he had paid the duties (though someone might want to check that, just in case), the tax fraud investigation is much more serious. It features all the Slovenian classics of predatory capitalism. These includes scamming businesses under administration, using shell companies and leaving creditors hang out to dry. This alone may be enough for the parliament to fire Dikaučič on Monday.

But just in case anyone gets bored, there is the whole EPPO clusterfuck. Justice minister Dikaučič still has not nominated, and the government as a whole still has not appointed, two delegated prosecutors to the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Despite a court ruling that settles the matter.

(EDIT: literally within minutes of posting this, news broke that the government confirmed the two prosecutors, but on an interim basis. Which in all likelihood is only meant give some cover to Dikaučič, pending the impeachment debate on Monday and isn’t good enough in terms of fulfiling the country’s obligations towards the EPPO.)

In this, Dikaučič is obviously only following very explicit marching orders from the Glorious Leader. But the matter technically falls within his purview. Which means that when shit hits the fan, he gets to be the fall guy. Inasmuch it hasn’t already, and he isn’t already.

Andrej Vizjak Extended Mix

But even Dikaučič may turn out to be merely a sideshow, as the regime of the Glorious Leader has not two, but three ministers hanging on by their fingernails.

Namely, minister of environment and spatial planning Andrej Vizjak is rapidly running out of, well, space.

Just as pengovsky speculated last month, the story of Vizjak wheeling and dealing with a nominal arch-enemy Bojan Petan refused to go away. What is more, POP TV, the outlet that broke the story, ran new recordings.

The Vizak Exteneded Mix refutes any claim that the initial recordings may have been faked or doctored. As a result, even the NSi (the other junior coalition party) felt that the pain up their collective asses is too much and decided to get off the fence.

But simply coming out and saying “OK, Vizjak should go now” would be lame, even for the NSi. Especially weeks after everyone with half a brain cell and without an SDS membership card said much the same. So, party boss Matej Tonin suddenly realised that “… Vizjak’s statements were inappropriate and unacceptable” and that he no longer enjoys the support of the NSi.

Words, not actions

While most English language news outlets picked up the no longer enjoys the support of part, Tonin’s statement in Slovenian was careful enough to focus on what Vizjak had said rather than on what he had done. That is, give instructions to state holding companies on how to deal with Petan’s ownership moves.

And what was it that Vizjak had said, that wasn’t apparent in the immediate aftermath of the initial reporting and that Tonin felt gave him cover to bail on Vizjak? Well, the environment minister had used plenty of foul language. Shocking. Hopefully, Matej Tonin never reads this fucking blog. Bless his heart…

Anyhoo. Yes, the Glorious Leader has his hands full. And, yes, the parliament sacking any (or all) of the above ministers would indeed be the optimistic scenario.

But, pengovsky, what would then a pessimistic scenario look like, I hear you say?

Pessimistic scenario

Reader, it is simple. The pessimistic scenario is that nothing happens. If Simona Kustec, Marjan Dikaučič and Andrej Vizjak stay in their posts (and there is every chance they do so), they will remain poster-people for everything that is wrong the government of Janez Janša.

Arrogant ineptitude, spineless toadying and shameless corruption. These words primarily describe Kustec, Dikaučič and Vizjak, respectively. But they also describe the Glorious Leader and his government in general.

The way they have (mis)handled the pandemic. How they have ransacked the boards of what few companies the state still owns. How they have gutted the police force in the recent mass-dismissal-and-reappointment of police chiefs across the country. Or, lest we forget, how they have ran the international standing of Muddy Hollows into the fucking ground.

None of that can be hidden, glossed over or spun anymore. That is why Marshal Twito desperately needed to deflect some of the intense heat.

Cue president Pahor.

Shifting the (election) goal post

His announcement of an announcement of intention to call parliamentary election is nothing more than a new shiny object Janša hopes everyone will now focus on. The opposition, the media and the protesters demanding the fall of the government are now supposed to focus on 24 April 2022 as some magic date in the not-too-distant future.

Should they indeed re-focus, mission fucking accomplished. The government wins back some breathing room to continue with the shenanigans, the protest movement could lose some more steam, and the media will start with the inevitable “but are the other guys really any better” shtick that is the necessary ingredient of any election period.

Best of all, Janša can persuade Pahor to push back the election date. You know, literally shifting the goal post.

Therefore, Pahor’s announcement of an announcement of setting the election date should be taken like Pahor himself. A load of hot air.

Technical default

That said, however, Spring 2022 remains the most probable time for holding the parliamentary election. By then, the reasoning goes, the current pandemic catastrophe in Slovenia will have likely (hopefully?) passed, while memories of EU presidency photo-ops will still be somewhat fresh.

Then again, if he indeed loses a minister one of these days, PM Janša could trip on a technicality and fail to win parliamentary appointment of a replacement candidate within three months.

Should this (somewhat unlikely but not impossible) scenario come to pass, Muddy Hollows could be gearing up for a snap poll as soon as the end of March.

Granted, that’s not much of a difference, but just so both readers don’t say they weren’t warned.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.