In the end, it wasn’t even close. The government of Robert Golob won the three referendums on Sunday, by a landslide. The votes on RTVSLO and on elderly care even passed by a 2-to-1 margin. Turns out the people like their public broadcaster. Whodathunk, right? Even the question on the composition of the government, which part of progressives were opposed to, was approved with a whooping 13 percent difference. The message could not have been clearer.
Perhaps even more importantly, the turnout was near-historic. It stopped just short of the all-time high of 43 percent for a policy referendum. But if the July 2021 Waters Act referendum was interpreted as an anti-Janša protest vote, yesterday was about whether the new Golob administration really has the mandate to do all the things it set out to do. And the voters said: fuck, yes.
So the entire right wing just their asses handed to them. But the referendum trio wasn’t a politically bad idea unto itself. It is just that Janša made a bet and lost.
Namely, going on previous experience, it was entirely reasonable to assume the referendums would see a smaller turnout. The July 2021 whoop-ass notwithstanding, they always did. Combined with the fact that last Sunday was the third time the good folks of Muddy Hollows went to the polls in as many weeks, getting people to the polling stations was a major concern.
In fact, there was even talk the coalition would try and defeat the bids by asking their voters to stay at home. This would have been the counter-bet, hoping that the “no” vote would not pass the legally mandated 20 percent of all eligible voters.
However, the Glorious Leader and his Party were considered masters at getting the base to loyally cast their vote. Which is why the “yes” camp ditched the above approach and decided to challenge Janša in open field, as it were.
And that turned out to be one hell of a move.
Not only did the supporters of the government turn out en masse (at least, as far as referendum turnout goes). To the surprise of everyone, including Janša and the SDS themselves, their own supporters largely stayed at home. Turns out, they did not, in fact, pass the 20% quorum requirement. Meaning that even had the coalition supporters stayed at home, the SDS and NSi would still see their referendum bids go down in flames.
Reconfirming Golob’s mandate
This has massive repercussions for basic assumptions about Slovenian political cesspool. Specifically, about the reach of Marshal Twito and the Party, as well as the loyalty of the base in general (but see below).
More to the point, however, the referendum result was the final confirmation that the Golob government does indeed have the mandate to do the things it set out to do. Perhaps there were still people out there who hoped, or deluded themselves into thinking, that the April parliamentary vote was driven purely by the anti-Janša vote.
For these people (*cough* Matej Tonin *cough*) the referendums were akin to asshole boyfriend, who recently got dumped, asking his ex if she (he?) was really sure about the breakup. In response, the ex hugged the new guy, perhaps tighter than they would have otherwise, telling the toxic boyfriend to go fuck himself and the horse he rode in on.
Thus, the Big Bird got another green light from the people to please go and fix the shit that is broken. As if the comfortable majority in the parliament wasn’t enough, but there you go.
That is not to say that it will be all sunshine blowing up the Golob coalition asses from now on. Elements of the Janša crowd still try to derail his agenda, case in point the announced constitutional challenge to the new law on RTVSLO.
Victory at a price
More to the point, even though he successfully fended off Janša’s full-court pressing, PM Golob lost at least six months doing so. And in the case of RTVSLO, a further six months might be wasted, if the above constitutional challenge does indeed happen.
Six-to-twelve months is a hell of a long time, when you’re running the government. Janša and the SDS might have lost. But they made Golob and the left-liberal coalition pay a fucking high price for it.
Ultimately, however, the 2022 super-election year in general, and the last three weeks in particular, shattered the image of Janez Janša as the apex political predator in Muddy Hollows.
Ever since Janez Drnovšek departed the world, and Gregor Golobič departed the political centre stage soon thereafter, Janez Janša was without a worthy opponent in the Slovenian political cesspool. As such, he was tthe person who largely set the general political parametres in Muddy Hollows.
Make no mistakes, he still lost elections more often than he won them. In fact, other than his outright electoral victory in 2004, the only time he won a plurality in the parliament was in 2018. And even when he did manage to form a government (2012 and 2020), he did so by ways of outmaneuvering the competition and tricking ambitious dumbfucks into thinking he could be reasoned with.
But in 2022, he lost every single vote. With the possible exception of the local elections, where the SDS still won the largest number of municipal seats nationwide. But that number doesn’t say much by itself as it shrunk compared to 2018 local elections. In Ljubljana, for example, the Party representation in the City Hall was cut almost by half.
As a result, questions are being asked.
Sensing disaster at the ballot box, the Glorious Leader got the fuck out of Dodge on Saturday. Officially, it was for a pre-planned ski trip. But he pulls the exact same stunt whenever there is an uncertain vote scheduled. As a result, it fell to lesser party members to face the music. And if MPs Branko “Gizmo” Grims, Alenka “Kopriva” Jeraj and Zvone “doesn’t merit a middle name” Černač are any indication, the party is reeling rudderless right now.
Finger-pointing already started
Their post-referendum rambling made absolutely no sense to anyone. It was all very obviously a result of reality piercing the bubble the Party had wrapped themselves in. Gizmo, for example, even when so far as to compare the current state of affairs in Muddy Hollows to Germany just before the rise of Hitler. Clearly, Gizmo’s dealer ran out of the good stuff, but the German Embassy in Ljubljana still wouldn’t have any of this.
But other than SDS MPs trying to do the job they are clearly not up to, Matej Tonin was quick to try and pin the blame on anyone but himself. Which meant blaming the Glorious Leader.
Basically, Tonin said that it was all Janša’s fault, that he is too divisive a politician and that any vote that includes Janša turns into an emphatic rejection of the said politician rather than being a vote on merit, as it should have been. Furthermore, Tonin said, it was all SDS’s idea anyway and who do these people think they are, running a campaign like this. He wrapped up by strongly hinting at the NSi jumping ship and going solo.
Of course, it would be political malpractice for Tonin to not try and put as much daylight between himself and Janša right now. The problem is that he was the one who brought the NSi back into the SDS orbit in the first place, after he had engineered a coup against his never-Janša predecessor in 2018. Ljudmila Novak must be having a serious “I fucking told you so” moment right now.
At any rate, Tonin’s pearl-clutching right now is disingenuous at best. At worst, he will put his spine back in the wardrobe the moment Janez Janša returns from his “skiing trip” and starts putting his house in order.
Because other than NSi leader temporarily growing a pair of cojonitos, there were some serious shots fired within the Party. And we can’t have shots fired within the party, can we?
Namely, questions were being asked where the fuck was Anže Logar. In an example of intellectually challenged math, the chief Party TV propagandist Boris Tomašič was asking on live TV why didn’t Logar do anything. What with him winning over 400k votes only two weeks ago.
Tomašič apparently understands voters as goods to be delivered rather than people to be convinced to go and vote. Which tells you everything you need to know about the way the Party works and thinks. But it also shows that factions do indeed exist within the SDS and that the supremacy of the Glorious Leader is, for the moment at least, somewhat doubtful.
This is not Janša’s first rodeo
However, this is not Janez Janša’s first rodeo. He’s been in bad places before and he always made a comeback. But in the before times, Janša always had political room to stage a return and end up stronger than before.
The question is, does the only remaining 1990s politician in Muddy Hollows still have what it takes to the tide going against him.