The State of Muddy Hollows Play, part 3: Igor Zorčič’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Welcome to Part Three of taking the lay of the political land in Slovenia. If this is your first contact with the series, check out parts One and Two. Today pengovsky takes both readers into the myriad of smaller parties and coalitions in Muddy Hollows. Not all of them, mind you. Because even in the world of parties-as-a-hobby, some are more equal that the others.

Igor Zorčič founded LIDE, the youngest political party in Muddy Hollows.
Igor Zorčič at LIDE founding congress (source)

Granted, Speaker Igor Zorčič is by no means the only one inhabiting this particular niche parties. But he earns top billing by the virtue of the office he holds. Also, by the fact that his party ties directly into the story of Robert Golob.

More generally, however, these parties and coalitions all claim parliamentary representation. Even though most of them never saw the inside of the parliament. Some of them have never even saw a single vote cast in their name. And yet they will have a seat at the grown-ups’ table during TV debates, avoiding the junior varsity time-slot.

With a little help from their friends

All this because several sitting MPs have either joined an existing non-parliamentary party, formed a coalition of (non)parliamentnary parties, or outright founded a new party.

Case in point Speaker Igor Zorčič who last week founded a shiny brand new party and called it the Liberal Democrats. And since the acronym LDS evokes too many memories, Zorčič and his people settled on LIDE. Which, of course, is just a typo away from a low-cost grocery store chain, but there you go.

But rather than naming choices, the important thing here is that Zorčič is reportedly doing all this in close coordination with Robert Golob.

It remains to be seen what purpose LIDE has on this Earth. Maybe it will turn into a vehicle for Golob, allowing him to formally stay out of the fray. Or he plans take the party over, sparing him the burden of forming his own. Perhaps it is none of the above. But it is obvious that in the short term Zorčič is banking on his own increased visibility as a head of parliamentary-ish party and having some sort of direct access to Golob’s resources.

From Zorčič’s point of view, this is much better than languishing in either SAB or LMŠ as a high-ranking, late-coming turncoat, with an ex-PM as boss. Not to mention that KUL had many things to say about Zorčič while he still batted for Team SMC and the Glorious Leader, and that he had on occasion forgotten to take his spine out of the box even after he quit the SMC.

Being for the benefit of Mr. Golob

Even before he officially founded LIDE, Zorčič got snubbed by fellow ex-SMC dissidents Janja Sluga and Jurij Lep. Both have publicly stated they will join Robert Golob and his organisation. But that may not be the snub to snub all snubs, especially if Golob and Zorčič end up on the same team. It could quite simply be that the trio of independent MPs decided to spread their bets.

It is also instructive that LIDE opted for a somewhat convoluted system of three party presidents. Usually, parties go for the “president + a fuckton of vice-presidents” model. Or, if they want to signal inclusivity and progressiveness, they go for male/female dual presidency mode.

But with three, ah, non-binary presidential posts, LIDE does seem at least in part to be placeholder party, waiting for Robert Golob to make up his fucking mind. And maybe save a seat for Ljubo Jasnič, or whoever will end up leading the undead corpse of DeSUS and bring it into LIDE fold.

This is where the parliamentary-non-parliamentary lifehack described above comes into play. With Zorčič forming LIDE, and Sluga and Lep joining Team Golob (assuming he does form his party), the three former SMC MPs should get a lot more screen time during the campaign. At least on public television.

Pivec in the sky with diamonds

This clause was invented out of whole cloth back in 2011. Back then the NSi did not have national parliamentary representation. But theyit did have former PM Lojze Peterle serving as MEP. So they got a seat at the big boy bench. Because, you know, we couldn’t really leave the poor little NSi out in the cold.

A decade later, this intentionally vague stipulation is being exploited to the hilt by parties left and right. Case in point, an hitherto unknown and anonymous SMC MP Mateja Udovč. Her first, any possibly only parliamentary act of any significance was to quit the junior coalition partner and join Aleksandra Pivec’s Naša Dežela.

You might remember Pivec as the former minister of agriculture and the only person to have ousted Karl Erjavec from a party position in, like, ever. She was also mired in a corruption scandal where the cover-up was worse than a crime and as a result decided that the best way to resolve the matter was form a political party. Which is what one does in this part of the world.

She’s leaving home

So she came up with Naša Dežela (Our Land), a hodgepodge party of former DeSUS faces with shady pasts and a name that sounds much more ominous in English than in Slovenian.

That said, she has had more than a year to lay the groundwork, and it shows. Namely, while Naša Dežela is probably nothing more than an SDS satellite party, it seems to have gotten some early traction in the public opinion polls.

It was possibly these early polling numbers which prompted Udovč to make the first noticeable move of her political career and switch allegiances. After all, the SMC itself is not feeling really hot anymore. Not since they rebranded themselves out of existence, anyway (see below).

It will be interesting to see if this holds and she does indeed make a political comeback. Perhaps the Glorious Leader and The Party stymie her at the last moment, like they’ve done with so many satellite parties.

Within you without you

In fact, the SMC is no more. And that’s not just because they’re scoring zero-point-fuck-me-that’s-low in public opinion polls. Which they are. They’ve also rebranded themselves as Konkretno (as in, you know, Concretely), and signed up a few other micro-parties. Together they formed a unified Povežimo Slovenijo (Unite Slovenia) candidate list for the upcoming election. And yes, this includes the once-mightly SLS.

The act of tying the knot looked like a who’s-who of political has-beens, looking to have one more go at it. I mean, Marjan Podobnik was vice-PM in the third Drnovšek government. As obnoxious as he is (and was), he was someone. Now, he’s hobnobbing with other political rejects Franc Kangler, Andrej Čuš, Alojz Kovšca, Nada Pavšer and, well, Zdravko Počivalšek.

Just as for Podobnik, this whole thing is a giant step down for Počivalšek as well. He, too, was… is, even… vice-PM, and yet he is forced to enlist the help of two state secretaries, one of whom he is literally financially backing to keep him viable.

Andrej Čuš of the creatively named Andrej Čuš’s Green Party is a state-secretary at ministry of economy. That is to say, the very ministry Počivalšek heads. The position comes with a substantial paycheck, allowing Čuš, who until a couple of years ago was a promising and loyal SDS cadre, to do some serious politicking at the taxpayers’ expense.

When they’re point-sixty-four

Granted, he’s not the only one. Franc Kangler, for example, moonlights as leader of NLS (Nova Ljudska Stranka) and works as state secretary at the ministry of interior during the day. Or is that the other way around? Ditto Alojz Kovšca, president of the National Council and erstwhile leader of pro-small business GAS party that never got anywhere and got co-opted by Konkretno.

It is not exactly clear what these gentlemen do during their office hours. But it is very clear they will spend as much time as possible propping up their laughably insignificant political parties. It is also clear they will be using as much state resources as they can get away with. The last part is of course time-tested and proven to work by governments of all stripes. What is different this time around is the discrepancy between their access to resources and actual influence.

Namely, as things stand, Konkretno is, well concretely fucked. The party barely registers in public opinion polls. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Zdravko Počivalšek and everyone who tied their political fortunes to him (or, at the very least, to his party’s bank account), need a fucking miracle.

They’re not the only ones, though…

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.