Anže Logar and Nataša Pirc Musar advanced to the second round of the Muddy Hollows presidential election. The SDS-backed candidate came out on top with about 34 percent of the vote in yesterday’s first round of voting. But it was the race for second place everyone was watching. Milan Brglez was within theoretical striking distance of Nataša Pirc Musar right up until the last days of the campaign.
In the end, however, it wasn’t even close. Pirc Musar won 27 percent while Brglez got just north of 15 percent. It was a short post-campaign party for the SD and Gibanje Svoboda candidate. What follows now is a Slovenian version of political kabuki theatre where everyone expects and works toward a foregone conclusion but where things can still go horribly wrong.
The basics are simple. If Nataša Pirc Musar hoovers up most (all?) of Brglez’s support, she will comfortably glide past Anže Logar in the second round. That will happen even if Logar gets the remaining 4 percent of the right-wing vote which somehow ended up with Janez Cigler Kralj, despite the god-awful campaign the NSi candidate ran.
House full of glass egos
But, as the old saying goes, one should not be throwing stones in a house full of glass egos. Milan Brglez entered the race almost at the last moment and did put on a fairly decent campaign effort. During the campaign, things were said and accusations hurled between Pirc Musar and Brglez that may not be easy to gloss over. Think Obama/Clinton primary fight in 2008, when many Hillarystas didn’t want to change tack and start campaigning for Barack O. after he had beaten her for the Democratic presidential nomination.
We can even extend that comparison to include Levica candidate Miha Kordiš, who landed some heavy blows against Pirc Musar, accusing her of being a corporate shill. And since Pirc Musar is used to giving it as good as she is getting it, echoes of the Sanders/Clinton feud of 2016 are not at all imaginary.
Back then in the US, Bernie Bros and Sistas would not be caught dead within ten miles of a Hillary stand, even though election of Agent Orange was looming. This year in Muddy Hollows, Levica will have to do a lot of twists and turns to switch their support to Pirc Musar and still make it look as though they are the anti-capitalist, anti-corporation party. Luckily for NPM, Miha Kordiš only won around three percent of the vote.
Political mating dance
Point being that the remaining centre-left candidate (Pirc Musar) might have a built-in advantage against the remaining centre-right candidate (Logar). But the activation of this advantage will demand a somewhat complex ritual. The goal is for the support to shift from Brglez and Kordiš to Pirc Musar but in a way where the former two do not come across as a butt-hurt foregone conclusions, and the latter does not appear as an entitled arrogant elitist.
A more serious political blog would call this adulting and not a political mating dance. And yet, here we are.
Assuming it all goes to plan, Pirc Musar should not have any serious trouble sending Logar packing back to the SDS parliamentary group. That said, there are some known unknowns out there. The biggest one being the fourth-placed Vladimir Prebilič.
From Kočevje with love
The mayor of Kočevje put on an impressive performance and surged in the last ten days of the campaign. The final tally shows he bagged more than ten percent of the vote. Which is fucking huge for a guy with virtually no national footprint. The problem is that Prebilič, who was obviously courting the disaffected left-wing vote (that is to say, people who thought Brglez was too bland and Pirc Musar too pushy), publicly said that he will endorse neither of the remaining two candidates.
On one hand, this understandable. In the dying days of his presidential race, Prebilič also filed the paperwork to run for mayor Kočevje for the fourth time. Seeing as he is wildly popular on his home turf, the re-election shouldn’t really be a problem for him, despite the deadliest industrial accident in the history of Slovenia, which happened in Kočevje during his second term. But, having a national platform never hurt anyone’s re-election bid ever. It is just that he can’t afford to alienate SDS voters right off the bat
On the other hand, however, Prebilič seems to think that the ten percent he won is a nascent form of his political movement, or something. Citing the need to see past the political divisions, he said that he will support neither Pirc Musar nor Logar, since they are both too divisive. As if.
10 percent, spaffed up the wall
What Prebilič doesn’t seem to understand (besides the fact that this makes him look like an entitled arrogant prick) is that the ten percent he holds will be an ace up his sleeve for the grand total of four days. If that, at all.
By Friday this week, the first polls and projections will have been made and the ten percent that went to Prebilič yesterday will have already dispersed among the remaining duo of candidates and the don’t knows/won’t votes.
To put it another way, whatever clout Prebilič had coming out of yesterday’s vote, he immediately spaffed it up against the wall, looking like a moron to boot.
A vote along party lines
I mean, sure, he could have picked one of the two candidates and supported the loser, but even a brief look at the returns will show that the vote went more or less along the party lines. In fact, as a geographical analysis of the results showed, the vote went exactly along the lines draw in the April parliamentary vote.
Point being that Anže Logar has almost no room for improving the result in the second round. His only chance lies in the measly four percent NSi candidate Janez Cigler Kralj won.
But winning the NSi endorsement might be trickier than it seems, as the SDS and NSi leaders Janez Janša and Matej Tonin are apparently on barely-speaking terms these days.
So, the only real chance Logar has in winning this thing is if a large majority of newly minted would-be Pirc Musar voters soured on the remaining centre-left candidate.
Students of Karl Rove and Steve Bannon
To this end, he had already deployed the Glorious Leader to continue attacking NPM on the same issue Milan Brglez did: her husband’s business dealings.
Brglez was careful not to overstep and used vague terms such as “transition capitalism” to describe his erstwhile opponent. Janša, on the other hand, went straight for the jugular and accused her of being a “tax haven believer”. Ouch.
Pengovsky noted on several occasions, that Pirc Musar did a piss-poor job of putting that issue to rest. It is not that there was anything seriously untoward. It is the way the lets everyone know she is rattled by it. That just makes everyone rattle her cage even more.
However, this issue is not the worst of her problems in the second round. Even though she never found an effective response to this particular line of attach, she still got only seven percent less votes than Anže Logar.
But Janša and SDS are nothing if not faithful studies of the post-Reagan GOP. And they have studied campaign strategies of Karl Rove and Steve Bannon especially thoroughly.
So, rather than see them repeat the accusations that saw Milan Brglez and Miha Kordiš lose badly, pengovsky fully expects Anže Logar and his Glorious Leader to flood the zone with shit and attack Nataša Pirc Musar not where she is weakest, but where she is strongest.