The State of Muddy Hollows Play, part 5: They’re On The Pavement, Thinking About The Government

There is one relatively substantial piece of the Muddy Hollows political puzzle that nobody is quite sure how it will fall into place. Or if it will even fit at all, for that matter. Various NGOs and/or civic coalitions that have sprang to life during the pandemic are a big wildcard and could have an outsize effect on the final outcome of the vote.

The Gremo volit! campaign will attempt to increase turnout in 2022 parliamentary election in Muddy Hollows
Launch of Gremo volit! (Let’s Vote!) campaign (source)

This constitutes the fifth and final part of this here series. Click here for parts One, Two, Three and Four. Muddy Hollows is transitioning into full campaign mode and every move they make (and every breath they take) will now be watched from the viewpoint of election Sunday.

Pengovsky has no doubt that a fuck-ton of weirdos will come out of the woodwork as election day kind of approaches. Various anti-abortion and anti-LGBTQI nutcases are prime candidates to enter the chat. Aleš Primc, to give an example at random.

They’re on a pavement, thinking ’bout the government

The major civic coalitions can be divided into two main groups: populist nationalists and liberal leftists. The former represent the core of the Wednesday protest movement, known primarily for generous use of tear gas and occasinal rearranging of urban furniture.

The latter are broadly aligned with Friday protest movement known for cycling around town and making a nuisance of themselves, at least as far as the regime is concerned. Unsurprisingly however, there is more than one centre of gravity on this side of the arena. After all, on the political left, cohesion is something best left to others.

Badge out, laid off, say’s he’s got a bad cough

The Wednesdayists, let’s call them that, are following a more “traditional populist” path. A somewhat charismatic leader, full of inconsistencies and flair is the undisputed leader of the movement-turned-party. The newly-minted party continues to organise mass rallies, creating a positive-feedback loop, where turnout legitimises the party and its leader as some sort of a popular tribune, whereas the mere existence of the party and its talking points give the people attending the rally a purpose and sense of agency.

This is what Resnica (Truth) party boils down to. Led by Zoran Stevanović, a former member of the SNS (the nationalist party), it is a melange of Covid-deniers, conspiracy theorist, people who lucked out one way or the other, and generally angry and/or low-information voters.

As things stand now, Resnica has a plausible road to make the four-percent cutoff and actually win seats in the parliament. But heir main challenge will be to a) keep their current base from spilling back to their usual political choices, and b) make sure that part of the base which hitherto did not vote at all actually shows up on election day.

Long story short, despite seemingly cornering the market on the angry masses, Resnica are fighting an uphill battle. And despite that plausible scenario pengovsky mentioned above, odds are they won’t make it in the end.

Look out kid, it’s something you did

The Fridayists don’t have that problem. Even though Vesna party is an offshot of the civic movement that won the Waters Act referendum, cores part of that movement in the end decided to not enter the political arena directly.

What is more, their two broad centres of gravity are not an inherently bad idea either. Because while there is some overlap between the two, this is not some sort of bolshevik/menshevik split. Both groups simply occupy fundamentally different parts of the ecosystem.

The People’s Protest Assembly is a semi-structured catch-all forum for grievances of people who have simply had it with the shit the Glorious Leader and his regime are pulling. So they’ve put together virtually every demand, complaint and request that was leveled during Friday protests over the course of the last year and a half, and put them in eleven very broad groups.

Don’t follow leaders, watch the parkin’ meters

Almost by necessity, this compendium includes mutually exclusive demands, like “higher minimum wage” and “introduce universal basic income”, or “balance the budget but don’t cut spending” and so on.

But it also provides a snapshot of priorities of a significant bloc of voters. And even though some of these demands are self-defeating, some can be a useful talking point or even a platform plank.

The other center of gravity is organising around Nika Kovač of March 8th Institute, and other equally important NGOs such as Legal Network for Protection of Democracy. This group has decided on a more organised, two-pronged approach.

On one hand, they will apply the network they’ve built for the referendum campaign to get the vote out. This feeds into a general sentiment among Muddy Hollows watchers that a small turnout mostly benefits well-organised, mostly right wing parties.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows

Smaller centrist and left-liberal parties simply do not have the organisational structure and voter discipline to count on voters to show up in droves simply because it’s Election Sunday. So, the thinking goes, the larger the turnout, the bigger the chance the Glorious Leader and his regime get the boot.

If this effort is wildly successful, like it was in July during the referendum campaign, it could very well motivate the pro-government voters, too. But this is where the second part of the strategy comes in.

The civic campaign aims to lay out a legislative framework for the next parliament. This is not just a laundry list of things and measures they want the parliament to adopt. They have set out to draft legislation that will undo the biggest transgressions of the Janša government and address the largest loopholes of the status quo ante Janša, that the Glorious Leader used so deftly in derailing democracy cementing his hold on power.

In essence, the Gremo volit! (Let’s Vote) campaign is not simply saying to the left/liberal bloc “we want you to do this in exchange for our get-out-the-vote operation”. They are saying “we want to you this in this particular way in exchange for our GOTV operation”.

Ring bell, hard to tell, if anything is goin’ to sell

This is where the Legal Network comes in. Bringing together some of the brightest legal scholars and lawyers of the younger generation, these people have shown time and again over the course of the past two years that they are very well versed in both judicial and legislative processes.

Case in point, their own, unsolicited attempts at addressing the unconstitutionality of the Communicable Diseases Act.

Rather than making a sincere effort to fix the law, the government to go through the fourth (delta) wave and is in the middle of the fifth (omicron) wave without even re-declaring a state of epidemic. Even though they had an entire fucking watertight draft law in their inboxes, courtesy of the Legal Network. They just had to submit it formally.

So, on one hand, the Fridayists are putting a steep price on their active support for the left-liberal opposition. But on the other hand, they will be doing a shitload of legwork and will provide a fuckton of content.

Get dressed, get blessed, try to be a success

Crucially, this will allow the KUL parties to pick-and-choose those bits of draft legislation that will suit them best and use them as their talking points.

Naturally, things can always go wrong, especially since Fridayists will not be the only pressure group running circles around KUL parties. Any of them can spoil things for everyone else.

The SD are especially suspect for harbouring a separate agenda. Levica are liable to get righteous and ideological as fuck at exactly the wrong moment. The delicate ego of LMŠ leader Marjan Šarec is always in danger of melting and taking the whole project down with it. And you can always count on SAB to forget which way they should be throwing bombs.

But if KUL parties manage to keep their shit together for a couple of months longer, and if the Let’s Vote! campaign doesn’t get too cocky, this could, just maybe, actually kind of work.

Look out kid, they keep it all hid

Thus, with apologies to Mr. Dylan, we have reached the end of this series. Anything you still can’t cope with is now your own problem. But rest assured pengovsky will keep tabs on the political shituation in Muddy Hollows. After all, this is what this blog is all about.

And now, it’s off to the races.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.