Former presidential hopeful, foreign minister in the last Janša regime and SDS wonderboy Anže Logar made the long-anticipated, on-again-off-again move and went solo. That said, “plunge” in the title is doing a lot of heavy diving, as it were. If anything, he jumped into the kiddy pool, with floaties on and daddy watching from the sidelines.
Logar, still very much a leading Party member, followed the well-established playbook on launching a high-profile political project in Muddy Hollows. He formed an association. A true, honest-to-god debate club. Think Gentlemen’s Horticultural Society, only it includes women, too. And so, Platforma Sodelovanja (Platform of Cooperation) was born.
The question one everyone’s mind is, whether Logar is doing this with Janez Janša’s approval or in defiance of him. The other big question is whether this will end up being an actual political party.
Channeling his inner Donald
Answering the latter question is easy. Yes, of course. Platforma Sodelovanja will almost certainly transform into a political party. The very name suggests as much. It is enough of a misnomer that the (future) party leadership can play coy. It also gives plausible deniability to people too duplicitous to join an overtly political project because reasons (see Pikalo, Jernej). And when it transforms into a party, the somewhat awkwardly-named Platform of Cooperation will morph into a very smooth-sounding Stranka Sodelovanja (Party of Cooperation). Easy-peasy, fuck the lemon, pass the lemonade.
Then there is the not-so-subtle nod to Donald Tusk and his centre-right Civic Platform. Platform, get it? Wink-wink, nudge-nudge. The former EPP leader is the last of the great centre-right EU politicians. And in terms of role models, the SDS wonderboy could definitely do worse.
The comparison may be reaching a bit. After all, there was nary a peep from Logar every time Janša went on a far-right binge. But there are some obvious similarities, too. Logar and Tusk even look slightly alike, with a slender stature, challenged hairline and whatnot. No doubt Logar would definitely like to come across as a sane, moderate, pro-EU, centre-right leader. Which, come to think of it, is exactly like Tusk.
Say what you will about Donald Tusk, but he made his dislike of demagogues, populists and autocrats known. No matter if it was Brexit, his native Poland or the other Donald, Tusk wasn’t afraid to ruffle feathers and stand up for EU values.
Still the Glorious Leader?
True, it is a bit easier to do this when you are the EU Council chief. Still, this is the sort of political courage that Logar has yet to demonstrate. And it is not as if he hasn’t been around the block once or twice. He had ample opportunity to distance himself from Janša and the Party, but didn’t. Not publicly, at least. And not in a way that would hurt his career.
Which brings us to the former of the two questions. What does the Glorious Leader think of Logar’s shenanigans.
For his part, Janez Janša is keeping his powder dry. His only responce to date was that he neither approves nor disproves of Logar’s debate club. Which is uncharacteristically coy for Marshal Twito. That alone is a huge red flag for people convinced Logar’s club is just an SDS trap for centre-right voters.
Because if there is one thing that held true for Janša throughout his journey from the far left to the far right end of the political spectrum, it is that he values loyalty above all else. Every time someone fell too much out of line, they got disciplined one way or another. Every time someone felt they’ve earned freedom of action, they got cut off at the knees.
The composition of the SDS food chain was never in doubt. Janša was the apex predator and everyone else better know their fucking place on the totem pole.
Which is why suspicion about Logar’s independence is not unwarranted. And unfortunately for Logar, the only way to dispel these assumptions is to go apostate. He would have to renounce Janša, his political Parent One (and Parent Two), both symbolically and in practice.
With this in mind, the notion of Janša being neither here nor there sounds about as plausible as a real-estate deal in Florida swampland. The fact is that the Glorious Leader has not yet burned Anže Logar at the stake. That alone indicates at least his tacit approval if not an outright royal sanction of Logar’s project.
Coming out from the woodwork
An even bigger problem for Logar are the various semi-competent characters coming out of the woodwork.
This happens every time a new political project is launched. People of whom the general public is only marginally aware of appear out of nowhere. An to a man (for it is mostly men) claim they are just the person the project needs. In reality, however, they are simply jumping onto the platform hoping to catch the train to influence. If you will excuse a belaboured metaphore.
This will be especially pertinent if – contrary to available circumstantial evidence – Platforma Sodelovanja turns out to be a legit independent political project.
In this case, Logar will need loyal operatives in it for the long haul and not opportunistic fellow travelers, looking for a shortcut back into the top echelons of the body politic.
Secondly, if Logar wants to actually establish a presence of the ground, he will need to have more people willing to put in long hours behind a desk and out in the field, and less hours in front of various TV cameras.
On both counts, Platforma Sodelovanja is sorely lacking. Of course, it is still early days and other people might join in. That, at least, is Logar’s – apparently sincere – hope. But the way things stand now, the only three people whose intentions can positively not be doubted are SDS MP Eva Irgl, former SDS MP and MEP Romana Jordan and, of course, Logar himself.
Everyone else either has a much-too-obvious axe to grind, ego to feed or pocket to line. And yet, Logar – while probably fully aware of their drawbacks – can ill afford to turn people away. Not only is his project billed as all-inclusive, he desperately needs every high(ish)-profile transfer that he can get his hands on.
Other people’s problem
Even if it comes in the form of SD ex vice-president Jernej Pikalo. Despite appearances to the contrary, Pikalo is apparently still a card-carrying member of the Social Democrats. Nevertheless, he quit as party VP after the dismal SD result in the 2022 election. Nominally in protest because SD leader Tanja Fajon wouldn’t quit, despite the shellacking at the ballot box.
But Fajon went on to join the Golob government, land the foreign ministry portfolio and a series of plum ministerial posts for other faction leaders in the party. However, Pikalo (seen as a youger version of ex SD leader Igor Lukšič) took himself out of the equation and has been more or less publicly seething at Tanja Fajon ever since.
And yet he had the cojones to join Logar’s debate club, stating the need to see above the country’s differences, to hear each other out and focus on that which unites us.
Pretty big words for someone who is unwilling to rise above his own petty differences with his nominal party chief.
But hey, Jernej Pikalo is Anže Logar’s problem now. It’ll be interesting to see just how much work the disgruntled SD character is prepared to put in to make the supposedly-disgruntled SDS character’s project work.
Pahor’s People Party?
Probably not much, though. Because even if he wanted to (which is by no means a given), Pikalo’s organisational abilities are no match for Alja Brglez who served as mistress of ceremonies at the Platforma Sodelovanja launch.
Alja Brglez was Borut Pahor’s chief of staff until the King of Instagram had to make space for Nataša Pirc Musar in the presidential office. And with her taking the reins for, well, platforming Sodelovanje, sparked frenzied speculation about just how inolved Pahor is with Logar’s project.
Officially, the ex president is keeping his distance. But even so, he is making very appreciative noises which leave little to imagination. And recalling the episode from back in 2008, when Pahor was keen to keep Logar on as the head of government comms after he replaced Janša in the PM office, the only people surprised at Pahor’s newfound ability to comment on current affairs are those who have just woken up from a decades-long coma.
Uncle in the shadows
In fact, other than Logar still being very much a part of SDS establishment, it is Pahor’s involvement that serves as a strong indication that Janez Janša approves of the enterprise. Because if there is one constant in Borut Pahor’s politics (other than having an exaggerated sense of self), it is his proactive appeasement of Janez Janša.
More importantly for Logar, however, is the question of what – if any – role Pahor intends to play in this happy-go-merry endeavour. He obviously can’t be at the very top. But playing second fiddle is beneath both Pahor’s pride as well as status. Which means that the only role available to him is that of an elder statesman with an obvious political preference, loitering in the background.
Or, to put it in terms Pahor understands, an uncle in the shadows. Irony sure does have a sick sense of humour.
Going the way of the dodo or not?
This all goes to show that Anže Logar can drown in the kiddy pool just as well as he could be made to (politically) sleep with the fishes in a grown-up water tank. Does he have the ability to swim for himself? Absolutely. Will he actually make it? That very much depends on what he does in the near future.
EU elections will be an early test for him. If Platforma Sodelovanja does not carve out a space for itself by then, it will more likely than not go the way of the dodo the time the next parliamentary elex is upon us.