Presidential campaign season is finally on in Muddy Hollows. And it looks like it is going to be fucking awesome. Not necessarily in the constructive sense of the word. Be that as it may, there was movement on the presidential front just before the summer break.
Curiously – and most definitely awesome in the constructive sense of the word – four of the five candidates that have declared running for president thusfar are all women. OK, so there’s also this guy that goes by the name of SoulGreg, but he is not really important. What is important, is the fact that with the open 2022 presidential race, the field is about to get very crowded very fast.
In Muddy Hollows, the president is largely – but not entirely – a symbolic political post. They represent the country at the highest national and international functions, and perform key ceremonial and constitutional duties. They are also, by far and large, seen as a counterweight to the messy, sometimes brutal and often petty grind of daily politics.
Which is why it not a moment too soon that term-limited Borut Pahor is getting the fuck out of that office. A decade mostly spent making a mockery of the office, of himself, and sometimes even of the country he represented could not end soon enough.
But that is a story for another day.
And then there were five
As of this writing, five individuals have declared their intent to run for the highest political office in the country. Nataša Pirc Musar, Nina Krajnik, Marta Kos, Martina Valenčič and SoulGreg.
But declaring an intention to run is not the same as making it on the actual ballot. A Candidate can achieve this in three ways. They can secure support in writing of ten MPs. Alternatively, they can win a nomination by political party coupled with three thousand voters’ signatures. Lastly, they can straight-up collect five thousand voters’ signatures.
The last option is usually reserved for candidates with such a broad base of support that they can afford not to look to political parties for support and avoid overt partisan labels. It is also the only option for candidates without any political backing whatsoever.
Which is why in the run-up to the filing deadline you will often see a front-runner standing next to a no-name candidate. The difference between them being that the front-runner will be looking to reach yet another multiple of the five thousand votes, whereas the no-name will ponder how is that their 40k likes on Facebook did not translate into signatures of support.
Point being that not all candidates are viable. In fact, of those who have declared already we can safely ignore Valenčič and SoulGreg from the get-go. The former because she keeps doing the same shit over and over again. The latter, because reasons. Pengovsky is sure he means well, but… honey, just, no.
NPM vs Marta Kos
This leaves us with an all-female crew at this stage of the race. Left of centre, former information commissioner and latter-day high-powered attorney Nataša Pirc Musar took the plunge first. This complicated things more than just a little bit for PM Robert Golob and Marta Kos. They looking for ways to build a broad base of support for Kos, the former ambassador to Switzerland and before that, Germany.
But NPM opened the campaign season with a bang. For example, she won the endorsement of both living ex-presidents, Milan Kučan and Danilo Türk.
As a result, Kos needed to accept the nomination of Golob’s Gibanje Svoboda party. Even though she was apparently hoping for an endorsement from Kučan or Türk as well. For better for worse, this makes her the most overtly partisan nominee of the three.
On one hand, this is a drawback. But on the other, it solves the question of qualifying for the ballot from the get go. Which is not something that can be simply assumed for NPM.
Or, for Nina Krajnik, for that matter. The thirty-something psychoanalist with a PhD in philosophy is – for the time being – the darling of the political right wing. At least of the more rabid persuasion thereof. But her viability as a candidate is questionable at best.
She burst onto the scene recently with an interview that made the political right wing to drool in ectasy. Basically, she and the TV host spent an hour nodding in agreement that some sort of local version of the global left-liberal conspiracy is the cause of all of Slovenia’s ills. With the unstated but clearly obvious sentiment that “all of Slovenia’s ills” basically boil down to Janez Janša not being in power.
Because, remember, up until 24 April, Slovenia was the lighthouse of the Western world. The beacon of European hope. And the guiding star for the Christian civilisation. Or something along those lines.
At any rate, Krajnik – whose academic credentials are disputed by some – proceeded to make hay while the sun shone and announced her intention to become Muddy Hollows’ youngest ever president.
It will be interesting to see a campaign based on… *checks notes* … Lacanian singularity. Given that Krajnik herself is sometimes at pains to explain what she means by that, pengovsky doesn’t really think this is a winning combination. Then again, at least the … well … analysis of the defeat should be easy enough.
(I’ll see myself out, thank you. )
The alt-right candidate
At any rate, for all the swooning of the kooky political right over Krajnik, she doesn’t have much of a future. Backed by has-beens who once hovered around in the vicinity of power (never really holding it), these old farts are looking to relive the glory days. To do this, they found themselves an over-ambitious young wannabe who never held political office. Unless of course you count being married to mayor of Moravče and disgraced former ambassador as holding political office.
What could possibly go wrong.
Then again, it is not for nothing Krajnik is being billed as the first true Slovenian alt-right presidential candidate.
She hails from an environment that could at first sight be described as broadly liberal. But she also has a dubious relationship with reality. Repeatedly, she uses only select phrases which may or may not mean anything. Traffics heavily in stoking resentment against “the elites”. She avoids answers to basic platform questions such as the right to abortion. Most importantly, however, she is using outrage, aloofness and arrogance of her would-be competition to legitimise her own bid. All of this is straight out of Donald Trump’s 2016 election playbook.
Case in point the debate between Krajnik and NPM the other day on N1. Despite her near-infinite media mileage, the former information commissioner (who had a long and popular spell as a radio and TV news anchor in the before times) came across and irritable, thin-skinned and patronising. And while the general consensus was that the whole debate was a slow-motion car-crash, with Krajnik showing the depth of her ignorance, the Lacaninan candidate took NPM down with her. Which was all she ever wanted.
You see, the goal was not to win the debate with NPM. The goal was to appear in the same studio with her and make her look bad. In this, Krajnik succeeded beyond what she could have reasonably hoped for.
Nataša Pirc Musar is a top-tier candidate. She has the name recognition, the political and social backing and the ability to self-finance (always a problem in presidential campaign). And yet, she allowed herself to be dragged into a mud-fight with the Slovenian version of Jordan B. Peterson. Such amateur hour.
In retrospect, Marta Kos avoiding this particular debate like the plague seems super smart.
Others want to play, too
Then again, these are still early days. Candidates will have until the second half of September to file the paperwork and qualify for the ballot. It is only about then that most people will even start paying attention.
So, NPM still has ample time to fine-tune her campaign. Marta Kos will likely use the summer break to get her affairs in order and broaden her base. As for Krajnik, she and the old farts around her will try to figure out how to get the five thousand signatures without pissing off Janez Janša too much.
Chances of Slovenia finally getting a female president were never higher than in 2022. So, this particular glass ceiling may finally be broken. But we are not there yet. Not in the least because these three women are not the only ones who want to play.
More on that soon.