Tanja Fajon Is So Done With This Shit

“This shit” being the clustefuck that are the Social Democrats right now. Foreign minster Tanja Fajon anounced yesterday that she will not seek another term as leader of the SD. Which, although somewhat unexpected, is completely understandable. At least as far as pengovsky is concerned. Because, Jesus fuck, this party…

Tanja Fajon, soon to be ex-leader of the Social Democrats
Tanja Fajon, soon to be ex-leader of the Social Democrats (source)

As both readers know, the SD has just seen the insides of a meat-grinder mincer. This, after prominent party members were caught pants-down in a dodgy real-estate deal. Things got really fucktangular really fast, resulting in SD justice minister being booted out of the party. But hell hath no fury like Dominika Švarc Pipan scorned.

Long story short, after Švarc Pipan realised that her own party (to which she didn’t feel that much attachment in the first place) was throwing her under the bus, she sought the protection of PM Robert Golob. And since the Big Bird never met a coalition partner’s shitstorm he didn’t like, various SD honchos found themselves in various levels of excrement. A meeting of the families factions, also known as the SD party congress needed to be organised.

Fajon vs. Han

Truth be told, SD planned congress for around this time all along. It is the standard piece of political theatre before any serious election. You know, parties approving candidates, adopting platforms, saying how they are the best thing after your first morning espresso, and such.

But as feces started hitting the bladed ceiling-mounted apparatus, it became obvious that SD leadership will need to check with rank-and-file about their own mandate first. And initially it seemed as if it will all be a formality, regardless.

The pile of shit the SD need to shovel through is so daunting that it seemed prudent for the current leadership to continue and do the hard labour. Especially if the “current leadership” is a woman. Smooth-talking wiseguys would swoop in only later, to grab the glory. As per usual.

However, in the immortal words of John Major, politics is a rough, rough business and troubles come in bunches. And it so happened that less influential SD people who, until now, were watching from the sidelines as factions of Tanja Fajon and Matjaž Han duked it out for control of the party, decided this was their chance and stepped in.

As if the erstwhile observers went full Stalin and realised that both leading factions are worse.

Taking one for the team

Funny thing is, they are not necessarily wrong. And so a trickle of nominations turned into a stream and suddenly the were tens of names being suggested for the post of party president. Ultimately, that came down to three serious contenders: Jani Prednik, Tadej Beočanin and Milan Brglez.

Tanja Fajon, however, will not partake.

The accepted wisdom seems to be that Fajon is taking one for the team. That the shady real estate deal tainted the party so much that a clearing of the stables needs to happen before the Social Democrats can move forward.

And there is some merit to that line of reasoning. Even though she picked party over personal relations from the get-go, Fajon wasn’t able to stop the bleeding of public support. There was simply too much bad blood to begin with. Hence, the only responsible thing is to cauterise the wound. That is to say, make way for someone not marred by the affair. In Slovenian political parlance, Tanja Fajon has accepted her “objective responsibility”.

Exception to the rule

However, this is not the way party scandals are usually dealt with in Muddy Hollows. The more common reaction is a circling of the wagons, closing the ranks and rallying around the flag. Inasmuch those three are not one and the same.

Denying any sort of responsibility and refusing to step down are survival skills Slovenian politicians learn very quickly. Especially if they are enmeshed in shady shit. Because the moment you step down is the moment you admit your own guilt. Or something.

On the other hand, Social Democrats have a history of (more or less) managed leadership transitions, when rank-and-file let the big kahunas know that it is time to pack their bags. This is how Tanja Fajon got the job in the first place, after all. And before Fajon replaced Dejan Židan, the latter replaced Igor Lukšič in more or less the same manner in 2014.

Say what you will about the Social Democrats (and there is a lot to be said about them), but at least they’ve still got this party-over-personality thing going.

That said, there is also a third aspect of Tanja Fajon running out of fucks to give. Namely, that for most of her tenure, the cards were stacked against her. She came in as an celebrity candidate back for the 2009 EU elections, when Borut Pahor still ran the party, and she never really got rid of this outsider’s label.

Ever the outsider

Even though she was a loyal party member, attending all the proscribed rituals and gatherings, she operated mostly in Brussels and wasn’t a member of the boys’ club back home. Think SD Eastern faction, who saw the party primarily as a way to make money. Or, think Igor Lukšič and his ilk, who saw the party as a vehicle to come to, or stay in power, actual policies be damned. And on occasion, these two elements combined (see Han, Matjaž; also, TEŠ 6).

When Dejan Židan finally quit back in 2020, letting her take over, Tanja Fajon was immediately challenged by the same boys’ club. And although she did ultimately prevail, the threat of a repeat challenge was always present.

And that challenge was apparently in the works even before the whole realtor-y mess. If anything, Han’s Eastern faction took a nasty hit because of that, which threw a big fucking money wrench in the works.

Still, the party was damaged so badly that an open leadership fight is the last thing anyone needs. And although the Eastern Faction does have its own preferred candidate in the person of Jani Prednik, the result is not preordained.

Prednik, Brglez and Beočanin

Seeing how Prednik challenged Fajon once already and never really hid his disdain for her, the rank-and-file might well decide that an entirely new face is needed at the top. Perhaps, a mayor and party leader in one of the most propulsive regions as of late? Say, someone like mayor of Ajdoviščina Tadej Beočanin?

And before either leader jumps at pengovsky: yes, Milan Brglez MEP is also running for party president. But he has an even bigger outsider’s label than Fajon ever had. Brglez started his political career as a high-ranking member of the now-defunct SMC and jumped over to Social Democrats only after he fell out with Miro Cerar. And SD doesn’t take kindly to people jumping the queue. Just ask Dominika Švarc Pipan.

Lastly, Tanja Fajon remains foreign minister, at least for the time being. And assuming SD leadership transition is indeed being managed, she will likely remain at the post. Besides, the Social Democrats had enough trouble filling the vacancy at the justice ministry. There is no need to repeat the exercise.

Who needs this shit, anyway?

And, besides, it is not as if Fajon is twiddling her thumbs as minister for foreign and European affairs. Between the non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council, the wars in Ukraine and Gaza and Slovenia’s strategic interest in integrating Balkans, she has her hands full as it is.

Add to that a recent medical scare and the fact that the party is not expected to excel at the EU elections in June, and one begins to understand why Tanja Fajon really doesn’t need any more shit in her life.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.