President Pahor dropped his hankie last Wednesday and called the 2022 parliamentary election in Muddy Hollows. The date of the vote is set for April 24, the first possible date in a six-week period. This means that the rubber now finally meets the road and the mad dash for the finish line begins.
This also means that The Prez was not under pressure to backtrack on his earlier commitments to this date. Or, to be more precise, this meas that the Glorious Leader is just fine with the date. The only one who was making noises on this was nationalist party leader and a walking business project, Zmago Jelinčič.
This will be the last election Borut Pahor called in, like, ever. Which is probably why he couldn’t resist fucking around with rules of engagement a bit. Specifically, he departed from the usual principle of giving first dibs to whoever wins the plurality. Instead, Pahor intends to nominate whomever can command 46 votes, an absolute majority, from the get-go.
Truckload of salt
As with all categorical statements Pahor makes, this one too needs to be taken with a truckload of salt. It is entirely possible he will lock his spine away and quietly forget he ever said that, should PM Janša and his SDS win the most votes.
In other words, when it comes to laying down the law and making political parties jump through hoops, Pahor is bold, brave and resolute when facing parties left of centre. But he turns into a puddle of meekness, compliance and equivocation when facing the Glorious Leader and the Party.
It is possible that Pahor convinced himself that he is doing it for the greater good or some other bullshit argument along those lines. That by cutting to the chase and demanding 46 votes upfront, he will have locked the nomination of the candidate in and secured their confirmation in the parliament at the same time.
Given how poorly Pahor’s nominees for various senior positions in the country have fared lately, this is not an unreasonable line of thinking. It would have been really awkward if one of the last things on Pahor’s already-thin presidential achievements folder would be his failure to find a suitable PM nominee. Again.
2018 all over again
Ironically, however, it is precisely this sort of bullshit that makes this outcome more likely. In other words, by trying (at least on the face of it) to avoid the humiliating scenario of 2018, Pahor is likely to repeat exactly that.
There is a reason that the PM nomination process has two distinct phases: nomination and confirmation. First, because in the first round of the process, the president gets an exclusive nomination prerogative. This sets him apart from the usual parliamentary horse-trading. Second, his nomination provides the nominee with additional clout and a negotiating power to actually do the parliamentary horse-trading with some authority.
But with this ridiculous demand for 46 votes of support upfront, president Pahor radically changed the playing field. Under the new rules, anyone inside or outside the parliament can start working on securing those votes in the first round. Not as a some sort of last-ditch-compromise-candidate kind of thing, but from the get-go. With all the bells and whistles.
Not playing with a full deck
While it may look as a responsible move at a glance, it is in fact a complete failure to execute his presidential duties. Sure, the parties start the backroom dealing immediately after the polls close on Election Sunday. But the president is supposed to lead and guide the nomination process.
Instead, Pahor told the parliamentary parties to duke it among themselves. To victor will go the PM spoils. Even if this turns out be the smallest party in the parliament. In normal times such would have no business putting together a viable coalition. But these are not normal times and weird shit can happen.
Quite the opposite of Pahor’s stated goals, this has the potential to clog up the nomination process. Especially if the votes break down in a way that does not show a clear way forward. Which is exactly what happened in 2018. Back then, the parliament couldn’t even elect the Speaker for a long time. Let alone nominate the PM.
If he really wanted to facilitate the nomination process, president Pahor would do well to talk less, listen more, and play his nomination cards a bit closer to the vest.
As it is, he sometimes gives the impression he is not really playing with a full deck.