A New Parliament Convenes And Elects Its President

Members of the new parliament will convene today in a session called by the President of the Republic. The first orded of business will be to elect the Commission for public office and elections, which oversees the nominations and formally vets all candidates for parliamentary positions. After the Commision is elected, terms of MPs will be confirmed by which the new parliament will be fully empowered to perform its duties. But it will become fully operational only after its president is elected.


According to the constitution the President of the Parliament is second only to the President of the Republic. He or she can act with presidential authority when the President is unable to be it because he is abroad, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to perform his duties. Being president of the parliament is no small matter.

So it did come as a bit of a surprise when Zares, the second largest coalition party did not nominate its president Gregor Golobič for the post, but chose Pavel Gantar, a long-serving MP to do the job. While Gantar does have the benefit of in-depth knowledge of parliamentary twists and turns, he seems to lack charisma which I imagine can be very helpful when re-establishing the legislative branch as an equal partner in the system of checks and balances. In case you forgot, under Janša’s rule, the balance was tilted heavily in favour of the executive branch, reducing the parliament to rubber-stamp duties. But since outgping President of the Parlimanet France Cukjat dropped the bar pretty low in the charisma departement, Gantar should do OK.

I still thing, however, that having Gregor Golobič as parliamentary chief would provide for some agonisingly beautiful Kodak moments, when the Blut-und-Boden approach of the right-wing parties would clash with his proverbial wit and – some would say – cynicysm.

In any case, Pavel Gantar will be flanked by three vice-presidents, two of which are already known: Vasja Klavora of DeSUS, who served as vice-president in the last term as well and Miran Potrč of Pahor’s Social Democrats. Incidently, Klavora is also the oldest member of the Parliament and will preside over the session until President of the Parliament is elected. Choosing him as vice-president is a very strong signal that DeSUS will be a member of Pahor’s coalition. Giving DeSUS a vice-presidential spot also puts this party ahead of LDS in terms of political influence, which is what DeSUS president Karl Erjavec instist upon – namely that a party’s political power in the coalition must reflect its election result.

The second vice-president will be Miran Potrč of Social Democrats, a Slovene political legend in his own right. He was the president of the last socialist Slovene parliament (The Assembly, from 1988 to 1990) and in that capacity he overwas and helped bring about constitutional changes which provided legal grounds for holding the first democratic elections. Potrč is an old parliamentarian cat and know rules and procedures inside out.

And finally, Borut Pahor, the new PM-apparent said the other day that he will present his cabinet by Sunday. This would enable him to hold a vote on his government almost immediately after he will (assuming that he will) get the mandate to form the government. He will be given that mandate by the parliament, but he will be nominated for the post of PM by the President of the republic.

And speaking of The Prez – he will address the parliament today. It wil be interesting to se what he has to say. There are thing on his mind, but I’d venture to say that he will call for a more independent parliament, to finally enact all rulings of the Constitutional court (including the Erased) and some pointers for the future as he sees it.

Having The Cake And Eating It

Now that the final results of the elections are known and Janez Janša finally sort of conceded, the time has come for Borut Pahor to go about forming a coalition. All eyes are on DeSUS at the moment and bets are being made as to what concession exactly will Karl Erjavec get from the presumptive new PM, with the former already making noises that he expects to get a greater infulence than the smallest coalition party. Katarina Kresal of LDS went apeshit in responce, saynig that members of The Trio (SD, Zares, LDS) should be given prefferential treatment, because DeSUS is a member of Janša’s existing coalition.

Katarina Kresal and Karl Erjavec (source and source respectively)

Kresal’s comment drew a lot of criticism, not in the least by St. Luka, who published an op-ed on Vest.si yesterday (unfortunately Slovene only). It’s gist is that Katarina Kresal and LDS should not receive prefferential treatment, because it was the voters who gave votes to whichever party they saw fit and that the mere fact that The Trio existed does not make its members any more entitled to ministerial posts than any other member of the coalition.

Pengovsky (who ran an op-ed in a Sunday paper, by the way. Luckily, Slovene only) begs to differ. Namely. To a cetain point KK’s statements have merit. It would be ineed somewhat foolsih if Borut Pahor didn’t recoginse the interdependency of The Trio. SD, Zares and LDS need each other. Although the left is not exactly known for the ability to stick together, the fact is that any of the three parties would be very much alone, cold and scared without the other two. They were in it together almost from the very begining (insofar as we can define a speicific point of their begining) and if DeSUS missed the party, then – well – tough luck.

On the other hand, one can understand St. Luka and – by extention – Karl Erjavec (although I assume St. Luka did not intend to defend Teflon Karl). They recevied an unprecedented amount of votes, they are the fourh largest parilamentary group and do not intend to play the part of the fifth wheel. They want to cash in on the votes they got and are acutely aware of their position. However, this is not a game of chess (not yet, anyway), but rather a case of feeding the political masses with two loafs of bread. But unlike Jesus of Nazareth, Borut Pahor does not have enough to go around and will have to dissappoint a lot of people as it is.

So the 64.000 euro question is, whether Pahor should reward Erjavec and DeSUS for being late for the party or pussyfoot around them, given the party’s importance in securing a majority in the parliament.

I think Pahor’s priority should be in forming a more or less stable core of the coalition. DeSUS will probably assume the role of an attention whore from the start, which might ultimately lead to its premature departure from the coalition. Keeping the other two coalition partners happy will go a long way in a scenario like this.

Furthermore: although Katarina Kresal is still a bit rough around the edges and does tend to talk a lot even when she should listen, she seems to be a fast learner and will very likely know the game inside out within a year. And since her party is a member of the victorious Trio, she can and should receive a status that is more than just a reflection of the vote. Without DeSUS there is no coalition (well, at the very least it becomes harder to form one). But without LDS there is no Trio. So if Borut Pahor wants to position himself as a leader of the left bloc, he better keep LDS and Katarina Kresal happy.

Obviously the same applies in case of Gregor Golobič and Zares, but somehting tells me that GG will be able to hold his own against Pahor. But just to make sure that Slovenia avoids four more years of a top-down approach in politics, where all leaders of coalition parties were also ministers, enabling the PM to boss them around, the president of the Parliament should be a member of one of the junior coalition parties, possibly its president. This would also restore the balance of power in Slovenia, which was tilted heavily in favour of the executive branch in the last four years, reducing the parliament to rubber-stamp duties.

But can Borut Pahor have the cake and eat it? Surprisingly, I think yes. Namely. He will probably have to split 14 ministerial posts and 14 state secreatries (second only to ministers) among coalition parties, where (for argument’s sake) a state secretary is “worth” half a ministerial posts. SD has 29 deputies, Zares has 9, DeSUS 7 and LDS 5, equaling 50 votes in the parliament. And to keep LDS happy, the presumptive PM might think along the lines of giving LDS and DeSUS the same number of ministers and state secretaries, making a slight dent in DeSUS stature (but not much), perhaps offsetting that by giving them one really important ministry. But not the ministry of defence. Even Karl knows better by now :mrgreen:

Final Tally Shows No Change. What Happens Next?

So the unofficial results of Slovene elections are in, including the overseas/expat vote and in the end very little changed. NSi, the one party which was hoping for an election miralce, did get a substantial percentage of the vote (16 percent of the overseas/expat vote as opposed to 3.26 of the domestic vote) but it was too little too late, especially since only about a quarter of 40.000 eligible votes were mailed in. The only person who probably loudly laments the expat vote is Silvo Mesojedec of SDS in voting unit 6 (Novo mesto), who lost his seat to Zvonko Lah (also SDS) by a mere 0.09 percent of the vote.

The distribution of seats in the parliament is as follows:

Distribution of seats in the new parliament (source: National Electoral Commission)

The National Electoral Commission will confirm the results on Friday (SDS has already stated that it will not contest the results), which means that the Prez will convene the first session of the parliament within twenty days starting Friday, 3 October.

The first session of the parliament will be presided by the oldest member of the parliament, probably Vasja Klavora of DeSUS. During this session the parilament will confirm the mandates of all ninety MPs and elect its leadership: the president and three vice-presidents, one of which will be chosen from the ranks of opposition MPs. They also form standing committees and divide membership in these committees according to a party’s standing the new coalition (one notable exception being the commitee on intelligience agencies which is headed by a member of the oppostion). The pick for the post of the President of the Parliament (technically the second most important position in the country) will also answer the question of what kind of government can we expect. Specifically, whether all coalition party leaders will hold ministerial posts or whether their influence will be dispersed over various institutions.

More on the above some time in the next twenty days, but suffice it to say that it would be prudent that the post of the President of Parliament should go to one of the junior coalition parties. With this the focal point of coalition decision making would shift towards the parliament (both in terms of division of powers as well as geographically), which would be a welcome improvement, since both the PM and the president of parliament were members of SDS, a fact that vastly contributed to having a rubber-stamp parliament most of the time during the last four years (unless DeSUS was in its rebelious mood and SNS wasn’t on the same page).

In any case: Within thirty days of the initial session of the parliament, the President of the Republic holds consultations with leaders of parliamentary groups (including minorities) and decides on his candidate for the PM. The Prez proposes this person (usually leader of the victorious party, or anyone else of whom he is given assurance that can secure an absolute majority of forty-six votes) to the parliament, which holds a secret ballot. The candidate is empowered with the mandate to form a government if he or she wins an absolute majority (46+ votes total).

This is not the end, however.

Within fifteen days the candidate for MP must propose his cabinet, with all the ministers appearing before hearing committees where they outline their policies for the next four years. Hearing committees will hold a non-binding vote on the candidate and all of the candidates for ministerial posts will then be voted on en masse by the parliament in a plenary session. They too must win an absolute majority of votes, creating a curious situation where ministers are firstly reponsible to the parliament for their actions rather then to the PM and it is the parliament which can recall them, not the PM.

On the other hand, things can go wrong (not that I expect them to). If the Candidate for PM fails to form a functioning government – possibly because he couldn’t get an agreement on who will get which department of the government, or couldn’t win the nomination to begin with, the Prez can nominate another person to the post (or repeat the nomination, depending on the circumstances) within a fourth-night. However, at this point the plot thickens since any ten MPs can propose their own candidate, regardless of his/her ability to form a functioning government. But as I said, things will probably go more or less smoothly and Borut Pahor should become the next Prime Minister no later than the end of November.

It’s My Party And I Can Lie If I Want To

After Social Democrats, Zares and LDS (aka The Trio) won Sunday last, Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković called upon people of Ljubljana on live TV to join in on the celebration. Indeed, some two thousand people came, a makeshift stage was quickly set up, lightning and sound organised and when leaders of The Trio came to the stage the crowd went positively wild.

Borut Pahor, Katarina Kresal, Gregor Golobič and Zoran Janković at the victory party on Prešeren sqaure

Days later, however, questions were raised as to who exactly organised the event, and we witnessed one of those rare moments when the mayor was caught completely off guard. When asked about it on a press conference, he feigned ignorance, saying that it was the Social Democrats who applied for an extended permission to organise the event (which included a small stage, plus sound and light systems). He specifically said that the city of Ljubljana was not the organiser and had nothing to do with it. When pressed over it, mayor Janković said that he was told about the event beforehand and had given his consent, but refused to name names, adding that he was told about the application by SD only a day later and that it was a spontaneous gatherhing (which, presumably just happened to include a stage and a band). Since the event would have to be registered with the police, but was not, the organiser was in violation of Law on public gatherings and events (or something like that) and faced a fine of up to 800 euros.

So many were mildly suprised when a press release was issued later that Tuesday, in which company GSA stated that it was the true organiser of the event, which was “a present to the victorious political party”. GSA is a company owned by one of Slovenia’s top enterpreneurs Joc Pečečnik, who made it big in the casino business builiding roulette machines and other gambling accessories, but who also owns one of Ljubljana’s footbal clubs Interblock and is the majority stakeholder in the project of renovating the existin Ljubljana stadium. Pečečnik was indeed seen at the SD HQ on election night, but his business ties to the city of Ljubljana under mayor Jankovič are also undeniable.

So, what’s the big deal? To be honest, there isn’t any. There is, however, the small matter of someone throwing a public party without registering it – and that’s illegal. And since the party was both spontaneous as well as organised, it had mayor Jankovič’s fingerprints all over it (he is known to have thing done practically in an instant), not in the least because of his public appeal. And when he denied his involvement, he didn’t do a very good job. And when GSA came to the rescue it looked more like an attempt at damage control than anything else.

So, did mayor Janković lie? In hindsight, probaby not. Did he make a full disclosure? Again, probably not. Did he handle the situation badly? By all means. He could have either said that it was he personally who organised the party (not the city), take the blame, pay the fine and get it over with. Alternatevly, he could say that he was only told about the party, did not know who organised it and didn’t ask, because he assumed that it was organised legaly, but only extended the courtesy of making a Janković-stlye public appeal on live TV.

Truth be told, when Janez Janša’s SDS won the elections four years earlier, they closed off an entire block around their HQ, not just a portion of pedestrian zone, and noone said a thing. But neither Janković not The Trio were elected to things like before, but because they promised to do them a lot better. So far, the mayor’s track record is very good and it would be a shame if he started slipping now, when he’s finally got a friendly government in sight. As for The Trio is concerned – they have been probably given their only chance. They better now not blow it.


According to some media reports PM Janša and his SDS are looking into the possibility of a recount. No action has yet been taken, SDS merely went on the record saying that they are “evaluating the situation”. And the “situation” is that in some consticuencies where SDS lost to Social Democrats, the difference was smaller than the number of invalid votes. The same goes for the number of votes nationally: SD leads SDS with 1.2 percent, while 1.72 percent of the vote was invalid. But the trick is that SDS won five voting units (out of eight total, each unit consisting of eleven consticuencies), and won them narrowly, while SD won three voting units, but by a hefty margin.


According to Slovene legislation, a recount can be demanded for a particular consticuency by a voter, a candidate or a political party. There can, however, be no national recount. So the maths the SDS is now probably doing is whether the recount . combined with the ex-pat (overseas) vote – can win them an additional seat in the parliament.

Probably not, but they’re not the ones to give up that easily. Thankfully, Slovenia is not Florida. Yet.

EDIT 25/09/08@1200hrs:: SDS indeed filed a complaint against results in two voting units and demands a recount, with addition that results in one particular consticuenty be declared null and void and voting held again. SDS claims that supposed errors were big enough to have influenced the final outcome. Seveteen complaints were filed all across Slovenia.