Nataša Pirc Musar, Commander In Chief

Nataša Pirc Musar was elected the first female president of Slovenia on Sunday. The end result was very much in line with polling predictions. The president-elect won just shy of 54 percent of the vote while Anže Logar, got 46 percent, the largest percentage for any SDS president candidate ever. Thus, another glass ceiling had been broken in Muddy Hollows, the third one in less than six months.

President-elect Nataša Pirc Musar at a lectern during a press conference with the outgoing president Borut Pahor.
President-elect Nataša Pirc Musar during a welcome-tour at her future office (source)

Nearly a decade had passed since Alenka Bratušek and her brief-but-crucial stint as first female PM of Muddy Hollows. It took the country until late spring this year to see Urška Klakočar Zupančič become first female Speaker. Weeks later, Tanja Fajon was appointed the first female foreign minister. And now, NPM won the race for the top job. Women have finally arrived.

(EDIT: pengovsky should also note that Alenka Ermenc became first female Chief of the General staff in 2018 and that Tatjana Bobnar (see above) was the first female Director General of Police, also in 2018. Thanks to Roman for pointing it out. Also, Katarina Kresal was the first female minister of interior in 2008.)

Importantly – but not without precedent – the turnout in the second round was even larger than the first time around. Something similar has happened in 2007 presidential election, when centre-left candidate Danilo Türk defeat centre-right Lojze Peterle. In both cases, the turnout increased by about 1.5 percent, indicating an additional voter mobilisation.

Voter mobilisation

Curiously enough the mobilisation went both ways. Nataša Pirc Musar doubled her vote total, which was impressive but somewhat expected. Less expected was Anže Logar adding an additional quarter of his vote tally from the first round. This has implications for his relationship with the Party and its Glorious Leader.

That, however, is a story for another day (as pengovsky learned the hard way in the immediate aftermath of the post-elex episode of LD;GD podcast). Right now, the question on both readers’ minds surely is what sort of a president will Nataša Pirc Musar be.

The answer to that is that we don’t have fucking clue. Sure, there are campaign pledges and she probably has a list of priorities already. Every official (elected or otherwise) usually comes into office with some idea of what they want to do.

But in the immortal words of Helmuth von Moltke, no plan survives the initial contact with the enemy. The enemy in this case being the egotistical reality of the Slovenian political cesspool.

Not staying quiet

NPM ran on being the opposite of Borut Pahor. Her core message of “I will not stay quiet” was a thinly-veiled dig at her soon-to-be-predecessor.

You see, other than taking great care of his Instagram account, the outgoing president has a penchant for talking a lot, without actually saying much. (As an aside, in this Anže Logar is his exact duplicate).

However, he also developed a tendency to stay quiet or even appear mildly supportive of Janša’s government democratic backsliding. That, and bending over backwards to indulge the Glorious Leader whenever possible.

This isn’t new and goes back to his days as Speaker and even before. So, it was easy for NPM to develop an alternative path for her presidency. However, therein also lies the greatest threat to her (first?) term.

Handling clown-cars

As a rule, Slovenian political class is very tribal. Not just in a political-party-as-a-tribe sort of way, but also in the separation-of-powers sort of way. Which is why NPM’s plan to call a huddle with parliamentary parties bosses and debate the tone of political debate in general, and hate speech in particular, could go sideways pretty fast.

Yes, the parliament tends to be a clown-car. But it is their own clown-car. Besides, the incumbent Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič is doing an unexpectedly good job at handling it. At least as far as the biggest clowns in the vehicle are concerned.

It would therefore not necessarily behoove a newly minted president to wade in on an issue that is a) not at all new, and b) is definitely other people’s turf. That does not mean that she should not go there. But the manner in which she would do it is incredibly important.

Even more important are the things the incoming president can do, without stepping on anyone’s toes. At least not much.

She can tour the country at her own pace, not burdened by the immediate policy needs of the government. She can use her position to elevate other women, or minority groups to positions of greater responsibility. Thus she should further diversify the still-predominantly male decision-making social bracket. And finally, she can call out shenanigans when she sees them, seeing as she isn’t beholden to any one political party in particular.

OK, so that last part doesn’t necessarily square with “not stepping on anyone’s toes”, but hey. Something about omelets, eggs and breaking stuff.

What of presidents advisors

Finally, by far the most important part of Nataša Pirc Musar’s presidency will be her reactions to things she cannot control. Be it some sort of a domestic political fuck-up, an international crisis, or a shit-storm the likes of the Bosnian non-paper, she will be the one people and lesser political actors will look to for guidance and a cool head.

If she rises up to such challenges, she will go a long way in rebuilding the dignity and the authority of the office, which the soon-to-be-former guy left in such disrepair.

Which is why her choice of advisors will be an early indication of her priorities and approach to the presidency in general. One can assume that core people from her campaign will serve as a transition team and take over key positions in the incoming president’s office, in a month’s time. Beyond that, however, little is known at this stage.

Nataša Pirc Musar will be sworn is as Slovenia’s fifth president in a special session of the parliament on 23 December. The transfer of powers will take place in a ceremony immediately thereafter. And so, this sorry little excuse for a country will get its first female commander-in-chief for at least the next five years.

That in itself is awesome as fuck.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.