After it had won all the marbles over the past fifteen months, the left-liberal coalition waited almost a full week before turning on itself. This must be some kind of a record. But this not January 2020 all over again when Marjan Šarec face-planted while trying to outsmart Levica. This time around, the power-struggle erupted within Gibanje Svoboda. Because of course it has.
Specifically, feathers are flying between The Big Bird and interior minister Tatjana Bobnar over who gets have a say in reforming the police. And she doesn’t like it that other people have started pissing in her pool.
Depending on who you ask, the issue is either that Bobnar and her chosen (but not yet appointed) Chief of Police Boštjan Lindav are too slow in scrubbing the police force of people loyal to former PM Janez Janša. Or, that people who have no business in doing so, are interfering with police independence for their own political needs.
Security apparatus of the state
That is not to say those two statements are necessarily in conflict. If the word on the street is to be believed, the individual doing the interference is Damir Črnčec, state secretary to defence minister Marjan Šarec and the former PM’s lizard brain. Črnčec is allegedly eager to insert himself as the main honcho of the entire security apparatus, with a reach far exceeding his station.
If you’re reading this and thinking “this sounds like something Janša would have done”, give yourself a pat on the back. Črnčec used to be tight with the Glorious Leader until the two had a falling out.
Which brings us to the central point of the matter. Is weeding out Janša loyalist from the police force en masse any different to what Marshal Twito and his henchmen have been doing during their two years in office?
What is change
Tanja Bobnar seems to think not. She also seems to think that the way to reform the police is to actually, you know, reform the police. Not to kick out “their guys” and bring in “our guys”, with professionalism coming a distant second.
What we have here is a classic, albeit small-scale example of what Mike Duncan calls the entropy of victory.
The author of the excellent Revolutions podcast notes that invariably, after the forces of change dislodge the ancien régime, they diverge in their understanding of what change actually entails. More importantly, some factions have already put plans in motion for their version of change to become the version of change. Which is how shit starts flying in the victorious camp.
Damir Črnčec definitely thinks he knows what change should look like. But he once again demonstrated that while he is a master operator, he is a really shitty strategist. Just as he cost Marjan Šarec his premiership in 2020 by giving him wrong advice on resignation, he is now also causing all kinds of hurt for PM Golob.
Best laid plans…
Apparently, Črnčec forgot that Bobnar and her team might also have put plans in motion. Specifically, the interior ministry had drafted changes to the Police Act which would have further insulated the Chief of Police from political interference.
Which the government will now have to debate and woe be unto those would oppose reducing political interference in the police. The various NGOs that have supported the left-liberal parties during the 2022 election season would not look kindly upon shit like that being pulled. In fact, the Legal Network for Defence of Democracy (PMVD) is already fucking livid with Golob for going against Bobnar.
And if the Big Bird loses the support of the liberal civil society, things will become interesting in the coalition as well. Not that Levica and SD are making any sudden moves or anything. But the junior coalition parties have been very clear they approve of Bobnar and would like to see her continue in her post. That said, both parties have also indicated that Tatjana Bobnar is definitely not the hill they intend to die on.
And why should they. This mess in entirely a Gibanje Svoboda shitshow. By incorporating Marjan Šarec’s LMŠ and SAB into GS, Robert Golob also inherited the baggage people in those two parties brought with them.
The Big Bird has had a fairly good run as PM until now, running a party is an entirely different can of worms. Depending on how he navigates these next few days, the current spat can be quickly put in the rear-view mirror. Especially if both sides did some performative back-pedaling.
Or he could have a full-blown party crisis on his hands within a week and would be forced to find a replacement interior minister. Which would be awkward, given that he is getting ready for the victory lap in the parliament with three new ministers now that the Government Act was approved by the people.
Now imagine the shitstorm if Golob really chose to get rid of Bobnar and replace her with, say, Črnčec.
Entropy of victory, indeed.