Asta Vrečko, Chairwoman of the Politburo

Since pengovsky is still playing catch-up, one of the events left to process is Asta Vrečko taking over as Levica… President? Chairwoman? Coordinatress? Whatever her title, the minister of culture is now leader of the left-most coalition party. Which should not come as a surprise to either reader of this here blog.

Culture minister Asta Vrečko delivering her address during Culture Day celebrations in February 2023. She now takes over as Levica leader.
Asta Vrečko as minister of culture in February 2023 (source)

It was obvious that Vrečko was being primed for a leadership position in Levica. If not sooner, since her pilgrimage to Čebine back in April. Somewhat more surprising was the change in leadership happening so quickly. Surprising to this scribe, at least. Back in April pengovsky thought the transition was at least a couple of years away. Little did he know that Levica bolsheviks would scare the shit out Luka Mesec in less than four months’ time.

The whole changing-of-the-guard thing within Levica got quite an impetus after in-party election was held for members of the Politburo Council. In a somewhat unexpected turn of event, the activist faction won the majority of the votes. This, much to the surprise of the moderate faction. The turn of events was widely interpreted as a boon to former presidential hopeful and everyone’s favourite verbal bomb-thrower, Miha Kordiš.

Bolshevik/menshevik split

After the shellacking Levica received at the ballot box in April last year, Couch Guevara was very vocal in his criticism of Levica leadership in general and of Luka Mesec in particular. To his credit, he never went full AWOL, but he didn’t exactly enthuse comradeship, either.

Kordiš’s presidential bid was an early indicator of the latest iteration of the bolshevik/menshevik split. He really wanted to partake and Luka Mesec really didn’t want him to. But he also couldn’t risk a split that would make the Stalin/Trotsky affair look like a walk in the part. So he grudgingly went along with it, hoping (in vain, as it turned out) that he would placate the leading Levica bolshevik.

Which, of course, is not how things work in real life.

Even though he came in last, by a-fucking-lot, Kordiš’s performance in the presidential race did anything but temper his revolutionary zeal. In his view, his ideas weren’t getting the love they deserved and someone had to pay for it. It just so happened that Levica Council election provided an unexpected opportunity.

Mesec exit, stage left

Seeing as revolutions have no use for missed opportunities, Kordiš decided to ignore the ass-whooping he received at the national stage and entered the race for Levica chairman. And in a case of woeful miscalculation, Luka Mesec decided that was his exit cue.

In pengovsky’s view, Mesec jumped ship way too soon. Party election not going your way is no reason to quit. At most, it was a shot across the bow, a signal from the rank-and-file that they desire a course correction. Mesec, however, interpreted it as a vote of no confidence and decided to head for the life-raft (though not completely, see below).

Sure, Kordiš was proving impossible to placate and he was increasingly looking like an independent operator. But a couple of strong addresses to the party, a bit of showboating in the parliament and a healthy dose of behinf-the-scenes politicking would have most likely secured Mesec another term as Levica Coordinator. Per party by-laws, it would have been his last anyway.

Taking notes

I mean, take a look at Tanja Fajon. She faced much more credible challenges within her Social Democrats and was even on sort of probation after the election. But when success came her way, she sure knew how to milk it. And so her in-party opposition has all but disappeared after Muddy Hollows won the race for the non-permanent seat at the UN Security Council. Luka Mesec could have made some notes, right there.

But he didn’t and now he isn’t. Coordinator, that is. However, the minister for labour, family, social affairs and equal opportunities is not out of the picture, by far. First and foremost, Luka Mesec is staying on as minister with the largest piece of the budget pie. Nominally, finance ministry handles a larger portion of state finances, but they are the government’s accountants, not an actual spender. So Mesec still has substantial clout.

More importantly, at least in the short term, the now-former Coordinator will stay on as vice-PM.

Bucket of warm piss

Vice-prime-ministership is for all intents and purposes a bullshit post. Cactus Jack Garner would probably say that it is not worth a bucket of warm piss. Indeed, it was squeezed into Article 8 of the Government Act, way back when Marjan Podobnik of then-mighty SLS insisted that he granted the title of vice-PM if he were to join the LDS/Drnovšek coalition in 1996.

And to show just what a cockamamie designation that is, the article clearly states that the vice-PM cannot stand in for PM in any of their constitutional roles, such as a vote of no confidence.

Symbolically, however, the appointment established a political pecking order in the executive ever since. First, came the PM, usually the big bwana of the largest coalition party. Immediately after the PM came the leaders of the junior coalition parties, taking on the styling of vice-PMs, even if they didn’t choose one of the senior portfolios. Only then come lowly individual ministers, regardless of party affiliation, whose only joy in life was to feel superior to either of the three ministers without portfrolio. These last guys wouldn’t even make designated survivor.

Point being that even though Luka Mesec has relinquished his party leadership position to his preferred candidate, he continues to cling to government seniority. And that, mes amis, is no good.

Staggered takeover

Sure, it may all be just a part of a rolling takeover by Asta Vrečko, whereupon she assumes all the roles of Luka Mesec one by one, over a course of a few weeks or months. After all, communist parties turned this sort of staggered takeovers into something of an art. From a committee member, to party secretary general, to chairperson of the Politburo, one step at the time.

But the point is that the takeover must be complete. Which means Asta Vrečko should be appointed vice-PM and take over every other political role from Luka Mesec (save his actual portfolio), sooner rather than later.

Vrečko will most likely find it challenging to work alongside Mesec as it is. The dude single-handedly pushed Levica above the parliamentary threshold back in 2014 by sheer force if his youthful naivete. He then proceeded to make them into a force to be reckoned with, and ultimately turned the party into a powerful coalition member. If Asta Vrečko is to stand a chance at actually running the show, Luka Mesec must get the fuck out her way. Pronto.

Visions of 2026

That does not mean that he shouldn’t be able to offer advice. Quite the opposite. He should be there for Asta Vrečko whenever she needs him, yet stay out of her way otherwise. But if he keeps casting a long shadow he will only embolden Couch Guevara and his bolsheviks to try again in two years’ time.

And the last thing Levica needs is a leadership kerfuffle just before the 2026 election.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.