The State of Muddy Hollows Play, part 4: Springtime For Green Parties?

Following yesterday’s Taiwanese Twattery by PM Janša, pengovsky now returns to regular programming. This time, we will discuss green parties, among other things. But just to recap. In Part One we covered the Glorious Leader and what is left of his coalition (mostly NSi). In Part Two we introduced the new messiah Robert Golob and outlined the fraught relation opposition KUL parties have with him (and among themselves).

Urša Zgojznik and Uroš Macerl, leaders of Vesna, one of many green parties competing in this year's election in Slovenia.
Urša Zgojznik and Uroš Macerl of Vesna party (source)

We finished Part Three stating Konkretno (rebranded SMC) and other political rejects will need a goddamn miracle to make it into the next parliament. Future ex politicians in close orbit around Zdravko Počivalšek will probably only see the inside of the National Assembly if they join a guided tour. But sometimes miracles do happen.

For example, until the NSi made it back into the parliament in 2014, ejection from the parliament was thought of as a one-way street. Then, Zmago Jelinčič and his nationalist party (SNS) made it back in 2018. It suddenly became apparent that there is political life outside the parliament as well.

The Phantom(s) of the Parliament

It depends a lot on the ground network of the ejected party and on its representation in local government. This, for example, is something the SLS of Marjan Podobnik has in spades. Which is why they are still a thing, despite languishing outside national politics for almost eight years now.

It also helps that they have an MEP to their name. Franc Bogovič, famous for propping up his iPad with a giant roll of toilet paper, funnels a substantial amount of money into party’s coffers. This is what contributions and party membership fees are for. But his MEP status also automatically buys SLS a seat at the big-boy table of the campaign TV debates. Basically, these are the same things that worked for NSi in 2014.

But if you’re not SLS or NSi, it mostly depends on how much party leaders make the parties about themselves. It is also important they stay committed and continue the show even when they hit a rough patch. At least if they want to haunt around that 4-percent range.

Les Pirates Misérables

This is something that has, for example, sustained the Pirate Party in Muddy Hollows. They burst onto the scene in 2014 European Elections with as surprisingly good single-digit result. But what many believed was a beginning of an upward swing, never really materialised.

The Pirate Party continues to languish in low single digits, always around half-way to the coveted 4% threshold. To their credit, however, they did manage to keep their head above the 1% mark, making them eligible for budget funds. So, commitment and perseverance are the order of the day for smaller and up-start parties.

The Leben Horror Show

This goes especially for post-political and/or ecological parties. Generally speaking, their ideology eschews the industrial-era left-right divide. In a society with a thoroughly industrial-era political mindset, this can present an identity issue. Cases in point Vesna and Z.Dej, two green parties that are clearly hoping to ride the #00FF00 wave that has swept many a European country.

Jure Leben, the only person ever to resign from ministry of environment twice, formed Z.Dej in early 2021. This was way before anyone was giving the upcoming election any serious thought. But even though he had the field completely to himself, he failed to gain serious traction, much less dominate the environmental conversation. Maybe because he’s likable but not charismatic, or maybe because it turned out he doesn’t really have a whole lot to say.

Which is probably why rumours are swirling that it will be his party, rather than Igor Zorčič’s LIDE, that Robert Golob plans to take over. Reportedly, Leben is due to call it quits, stay out of history’s way and let Golob remake the party in his own image.

Beauty and the Beast

Those who plausibly have a bit more to say on environment, green transition and the general clusterfuck that is the climate change, are coalescing around a party called Vesna.

Vesna is the Slavic goddess of Spring and youth. It is also arguably one of the more creative names for political parties ever. At least since the late Zares started a trend of dropping “Slovenia” and political descriptors from party names. It is also a place where two of the most active young Slovenian environmentalists have chosen to stake their ground.

Uroš Macerl and Urša Zgojznik have ample mileage in grassroots organisation. They have also had their share of brushes with politics. Macerl is mostly known as the guy running on-the-ground opposition to various environmentally problematic. Zgojznik on the other hand made her name as the driving force behind a grass-roots trash-picking campaign. She had literally hundreds of thousands of people turn up on a specific date and pick up trash all over the country. She also tried (and failed) to gain traction in collaboration with the Pirate Party in the last election cycle.

Vesna Side Story

So, in theory Macerl and Zgojznik could form a green power duo that could be both dogged in their opposition and would know how to build coalitions and cross-party agreements when the need arose.

However, their mileage is not that extensive. It is also true that 2022 is not 2018 or even 2014, when things like climate change were still just a political afterthought. Today, every self-respecting party has a position on climate change and policies related to it. Even Janša’s SDS, choc-full of climate change deniers, has a section on that.

And lastly, Vesna kind-of-sort-of sprung from the wide civic coalition that handed the government their asses on the July referendum on water. Notably, this does not mean Vesna is a political descendant of that wide coalition (more on that next time), but it is a political offshoot of a branch of that coalition. So, it does have some sort of initial legitimacy. Or street-cred, if you will.

Nuclear Poppin(s)

But running a grass-roots campaign is a whole lot different from running a political party. Zgojznik should know, as her run with the Pirate Party last time around didn’t really age well. Case in point the question of whether or not nuclear energy is green or not.

This may seem an oddly specific question for a party that has yet to be formally founded. But it is kind of the question of green party ideology in Europe. It is also a question Zgojznik and Macerl are trying to preempt with an unequivocal “no”, even before the party comes into existence.

Outside green(washing) dilemmas, this will also soon be one of key political and investment questions in Muddy Hollows. Not in the least because the powers that be (and most of the powers that would be) are lining up behind a plan to build the second reactor at Krško nuclear power plant.

Pengovsky won’t say it will all derail into another TEŠ 6, but you’re free to think it…


So, put down your knitting, your book and your broom. It’s time for some party play. Things won’t be bland or dull. Welcome to cabaret.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.