The one thing that went slightly below the radar in Muddy Hollows over the past few weeks was NSi and Levica urinating in natatoria. Or, to put in vernacular, pissing in other people’s pools. Not in each other’s pools, mind you. Although pengovsky would pay real money to see that particular shitshow.
For reasons that are as clear as they are not completely thought out, NSi and Levica decided to do some light incursions into narratives traditionally held by SDS and SD, respectively. Not that nobody noticed. It is more that very few people realised just what exactly both parties were signalling. Spoiler alert: nothing good.
The prebiotic broth that is the local political arena was lately bubbling with takes on the one-year anniversary of the Big Bird’s election victory. (ICYMI, pengovsky partook in the activity). Then there was the botched interpellation which showed that sometimes even Lord Janša can fuck up. And naturally, let’s not forget the much-hyped overhaul of health insurance schemes (a blogpost which is still in the works).
NSi vs. Asta Vrečko
Pengovsky already mentioned part of this story in his previous post. In an attempt to burnish their patriotic credentials, earlier this year NSi tried to hold a confidence vote (the dreaded interpellation) against minister of culture Asta Vrečko.
As usual, the list of the alleged political and legal transgressions was long and distinguished. The straw that supposedly broke the camel’s back, however, was merging the newly-established Museum of Slovenian independence with a larger, more renowned Museum of Contemporary History.
Pengovsky could fill a whole blogpost about how the independence museum came about. Or why Janša’s last government was so adamant at turning the private venture of dubious quality into a public institution. But suffice it to say that it was a poorly thought-out and poorly-run outfit, tasked with maintaining the everlasting sainthood of the Glorious Leader, aimed mostly at an audience of one.
Things started going sideways when the NSi saw this as an opening for a solo run.
The good old days
Only it wasn’t really a solo run, as they were three MPs short of calling for an interpellation vote. And the SDS was all like “no fucking way you’re getting those MPs from us”.
It wasn’t just because the NSi was pissing in what was traditionally an SDS pool. It was also everything that led up to this moment.
Back in the good old days, when men were real men, women were real women and small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri, Janša’s SDS had sole possession of the nationalist-patriotic narrative. In this, NSi limited itself to a role of the faithful side-kick.
Things started changing when Matej Tonin finally realised what his predecessor Ljudmila Novak realised all those years ago. Namely, that hugging Janša too close (or even at all) is toxic to the NSi brand. Sure, the ChristDem party leader seems to have realised this about six months after the voters booted him out of the government. But hey, better late than not at all, or something.
So, some time during the last year, NSi started breaking its orbit around SDS. They are not a fully independent operator just yet. But the fracture seems big enough for NSi to try some light incursion into SDS nativist voter base.
Perhaps they also took another look at their 2022 result and decided that they, in fact, like what they see. Because for all the ass-whooping they received as members of the Janša governemnt, the NSi actually increased the total number of votes they won. Sure, the turnout was historic, but votes are votes. And maybe, there are even more votes where those came from.
However, this line of thinking as a big fucking problem. And it would be typical of Matej Tonin not to see it. The problem is in fact so big, it is two fucking problems.
First, by leaning into the nativist-patriotic narrative of the supposed independence museum, Tonin is strengthening the hardline wing of his party. He may think he is taking control of the issue, but he is really telling everyone that even the moderate wing of the party feels Janša’s nativists are fighting a just cause.
In this, Tonin is undermining his own supposedly young/pro-business/moderate shtick much more than making nativists reconsider who their natural leader is.
Not that the nativists’ natural leader is taking any chances. The SDS was never ever going to let anyone else run the nativist narrative. Which is why they nixed interpellation of culture minister Vrečko. Then, they proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot with a botched interpellation of the entire government. But at least they they cut NSi off at the knees.
Which brings us to the second problem Tonin likely missed when tickling the nativits’ fancy. Namely, that Janša never leaves things half-done.
There are rumours of SDS working on an NSi MP to switch camps. This may or may not be true as there is a fine line between informed rumours and wild speculation. But the mere possibility of NSi losing an MP is a nightmare scenario for a party whose seat-count – let’s not forget – is still in single digits.
Also, even if the rumours do have merit it doesn’t mean that the said MP will take the bait. Still, it would be very in-character for Janez Janša to not only deny his challengers, but also extract a heavy price for defying him.
The only thing the Glorious Leader loves more than to humiliate the liberal left is to humiliate people and groups in his orbit. And by moving outside his own natural habitat, Tonin just provided him with an opening to do so.
Čebine holy site
Speaking of natural habitats, Social Democrats long prided themselves nearly a century of uninterrupted political activity. Say what you will, but spun the right way, that is one hell of a legacy.
Before they were Social Democrats (SD), they were the United List of Social Democrats (ZLDS). And going backwards in time, they were Party of Democratic Renewal (SDP), League of Communists of Slovenia – Party for Democratic Renewal (ZKS – SDP) and, naturally, the League of Communists of Slovenia (ZKS).
But before all that, there was the Communist Party of Slovenia. It was established in 1937, in a small mining settlement of Čebine, near Trbovlje.
Keeping this connection to the original communist spawn in Muddy Hollows was central to SD’s identity. Like, if everything else failed, there were still the prehistorical political myths the party could rely on to rally the base.
So, every April Čebine was a required pilgrimage for any upwardly-mobile member of ZKS/SDP/ZLSD/SD. Much like Dražgoše, a site of a bloody WWII battle between guerilla partisans the Nazi army. Which, to this day, causes the collective right-wing to curl into an apoplectic fit.
For SD honchos especially, Dražgoše is a must-attend event. Čebine, on the other hand, not so much.
Ignoring own history
What is more, the official party website was scrubbed of any mention of the birthplace of SD’s mother-party. Instead, the site makes vague references to 150 years of social-democratic tradition. It stops short of claiming heritage of Yugoslav Social Democratic Party, established in 1898 in Trieste. But if a careless reader were to make the assumption, who are they to argue, right?
Although there is a lot to argue about. First, the math simply doesn’t add up. It has been 125 years since 1898, not 150. Second, the claim would be historically incorrect (see above). And third, Janez Janša made that exact (also historically incorrect) claim once upon a time.
The Glorious Leader long since vacated the social-democratic bracket and moved all the way to the far right. This made it easier for the SD to fill in the void. But in doing so, they gradually created an opening to their left. This eventually gave birth to Levica. Or Združena Levica (United Left), as it was known at the time.
But there was a catch. For a long while, Levica was left of SD politically, socially and economically. Ideologically, however, they were firmly in the post-politics area. You know, environmental justice as a prerequisite for social justice, tackling digital poverty, and so on and so on…
Asta Vrečko vs. SD
That no longer seems to be the case. After testing the waters of originalist Slovenian communist lore for a while, Levica now waded waist-deep into what used to be SD’s recreational swimming pool.
Namely, minister of culture Vrečko attended this year’s Čebine anniversary as a keynote speaker. With this, Levica laid claim to a vast ideological treasure trove, which the SD is trying its best to ignore, though they never really discarded it.
Both readers will also note Levica sent to Čebine the very same minister Vrečko that NSi wanted, well, crucified over the independence museum issue.
That could, of course have been pure coincidence. It could also have been Levica ninja-level trolling the NSi. Or maybe we are seeing the beginning of a succession struggle as Luka Mesec is slated to vacate the position of the party
chairman coordinator in a few years.
The NSi waded into SDS territory emboldened by their nominally better election result. It is safe to assume that Levica pulled a similar stunt for precisely opposite reasons.
Newton’s Third Law
The party badly under-performed at the ballot box in April last year. They barely made it past the parliamentary threshold. Sure, a lot of that can be attributed to Robert Golob and Gibanje Svoboda sucking up almost every tactical vote available. But the experience apparently ratttled Levica masterminds. As a result, they seem to be actively pursuing available votes, wherever they may be.
Which is where Netwon’s Third Law kicks in. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Social Democrats are definitely not going to watch Levica chip away at their building blocks for much longer. In parallel, SDS’s reaction time is measured in milliseconds, as NSi is once again finding out.
But neither SD nor SDS can hurt Levica and NSi as much as these two parties can hurt themselves.
Namely, both they are tapping into a pool of votes they studiously avoided so far. Unfortunately, these pools of voter also seem to be the only ones available to tap into at this time. And there is no telling how their existing bases would react is these incursions would start yielding tangible results.
Sometimes in politics, like in life, just because you can tap that it doesn’t mean you should.