The one thing Robert Golob and his coalition really needed right now was a pep talk. You know, like Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday. Or Captain America in Avengers: Endgame. Or Sean Connery in The Hunt For The Red October. Instead, they got Janez Janša and his SDS holding a whole-day government accountability debate. Which, as it turns out, was almost as good.
The technical term for this is interpellation. It is set out in Article 250 of parliamentary rules and procedures, for all you nerds out there. But in a move that was as pointless as it was petty, the Party invoked it against the entire government. With this, they ensured the whole thing would have no repercussions at all. And they only did it to cut the NSi off at the pass, anyhow.
Interpellation is one of the basic parliamentary tools. It enables the opposition to hold wide-ranging debates and discussions. And given that the Golob government is now firmly in the not-great-not-terrible range, there sure are issues to discuss.
The problem is that an interpellation of the whole government is akin to licking an ice-cream cone through a glass wall.
Because it does not end in a vote.
A “regular” interpellation (that is to say, a debate on accountability of a particular minister) usually ends with a vote to dismiss. More often than not, the minister in question survives the grilling. But once in a blue moon shit happens and the PM ends up with an HR problem on their hands.
Glorified Question Time
Slightly more often, an interpellation of a particual minister puts the ruling coalition on the spot. It makes them publicly take positions that come and bite them in the ass down the road. Like the case of (now ex) interior minister Tatjana Bobnar, to give an example at random. Only weeks after the coalition and the PM unequivocally supported her in an interpellation procedure, Robert Golob threw her under the bus. Five months later, the government still hasn’t fully recovered from this snafu.
But an interpellation of the whole government? Well, if you attached a motion to dsimiss to it, it would have become a no-confidence vote. Which is governed by a whole new set of constitutional and procedural clauses
As a result, interpellation of the entire government is little more than glorified Question Time.
Which is why the NSi wanted to go after the culture minister Asta Vrečko of Levica. Ostensibly, the casus belli was her decision to abolish the recently established Museum of Slovenian Independence and merge it with the much more renowned National Museum of Contemporary History.
As any type of interpellation needs at least ten signatures, NSi needed at least three SDS MPs to second their motion.
The problem is that the SDS (specifically, its Infallible And Forever Great True Leader) claims sole ownership of any and all interpretations of Slovenian independence.
Little wonder then that the junior opposition party got a fuckton of flack for trying to sneak up on SDS’s turf.
The relationship between the SDS and NSi is not great to begin with. The latter made good use of SDS posturing early in this parliament’s term and took over key committee assignments, leaving the Party fuming with rage.
The party of Matej Tonin also collaborates with Golob’s coalition on changing the constitution. They are about to further insulate the judiciary from political meddling. Which will come in hany once if and when Janša and the SDS are back in power.
And whenever he feels the coalition is getting a bit too rowdy, Golob lets it be known he is willing to partner with NSi. Now, the latter is quite possibly a bit of a stretch. But put it all together and it makes SDS rank and file go apeshit.
And so in a pathetic case of petty one-upmanship, SDS blocked NSi’s move on interpellation of minister Vrečko. It then proceeded to make the same independence museum issue the centerpiece of their much less effective interpellation of the government as a whole.
Which is exactly what PM Golob needed at this very moment.
Just what the doctor ordered
Some people, including the Big Bird himself, opined that Janša’s impotent move reminded the people why they rejected the Glorious Leader at the ballot box almost exactly a year ago.
Others were of the opinion that the debate without a vote gave the government the opportunity to showcase its achievements over the past ten months.
Both takes are true up to a degree, although it seems doubtful that a great many people tuned in to see the politicos hurl words at each other.
Also, the phrase “government achievements” is doing a lot of heavy lifting as a great many announced reforms are going nowhere fast.
A bit of relevant criticism
And to be completely fair, what little criticism of the government reform capacity there was in the interpellation debate, it was mostly on point. So far, the results are less than ideal. And the few biggies that are still on the table are being put through a meat-grinder (more on that in one of the future posts).
But then again, it is true that the government managed not to screw up bigly in any of the key policy areas. For now, at least. And pengovsky would be amiss not to note that in some respects, lack of forward movement is a screw up in itself.
But movement is relative. Golob was milking the last ten months of his government for all they are worth and then some. But Janša kept droning on about how merging his independence museum with another institution was basically an act of treason.
Which… Exaggeration much?
Same old shit, thirty years later
Sure, one can see why the self-styled Grand Liberator would be irked by the fact that he doesn’t get his own museum. Or, even worse, how he got himself a museum while in power, but is now being denied the toy.
But making events of more than a quarter of a century ago the main line of attack against a current government? That just reeks of the Communist old guard having the vapours over smidgens of liberalism in the seventies.
It goes without saying that The One True Diviner of Gospel could simply not resist the temptation. He spent most of his allotted speaking time imparting one more history lesson upon the poor parliamentarians. There, he proceeded to pulverize anyone who has ever wronged him; or who in his view wasn’t sufficiently committed to the Cause back in the early nineties.
Janša’s attacks against people who are no longer politically relevant energised the base. That much is true. But the whole thing also gave the impression of Janša firmly stuck in the past. By comparison, it made Golob look downright modern and forward thinking.
Janša’s anniversary gift to Golob
In a debate with no final score, appearances are all that matters. And it appears that the ten-plus hours of debate made the coalition remember why they took the fucking job.
Which, in pengovsky’s opinion, is the key takeaway of yesterday’s proceedings.
It wasn’t really so much about the government putting its best foot forward. Nor was it about making the people remember why they voted Janša out a year ago. It was about the people in power realising that they, in fact, do want to stick together.
In more ways than one, the interpellation of the government was the best election anniversary gift Robert Golob could have hoped to get. The irony of Janša being the one to deliver it escaped no-one.