Delo Poll: Janša trailing Pahor, both slump

Delo daily published a public opinion poll yesterday showing opposition Social Democrats (led by Borut Pahor) in the lead with 22,2%, whereas the ruling Slovene Democratic Party (led by PM Janša) are trailing at 17,5 %. Gregor Golobič‘s Zares take third place with 10,1 %, while LDS proper slumped to 4,0 %.
This is the second month in a row Delo‘s pollsters recorded a slump in SD’s rating which could start spelling trouble for Borut Pahor as he is widely viewed as the only real challenger to Janez Janša’s ambitions to continue as the top dog in this country. This becomes all the more apparent if we take into account the fact that Janša’s SDS did slump but nowhere near as much as SD. However, at a first glance it seems that most of SD’s “missing” support went into the “don’t know” column, perhaps transferring slightly to Zares as well. Namely, the latter recorded a sharp rise from previous polls, which cannot be acounted for just with a sharp drop in LDS’s support (Zares being primarily formed by renegade LDS members).

As the bar for entering the parliament is set at 4%, the results of the poll suggest that predominantly Catholic Nova Slovenia (N.Si), the Pensioner’s Party (DeSUS) and Lipa (newly formed renegades from Jeličič’s Natoinal party) will not make it past the post. Personally I think this is higly unlikely (with the possible exception of Lipa), as all of the smaller parties draw on a highly dispersed pool of voters which is a bit more difficult to detect with a sample poll.

While 4,0 percent is a bit of a disappointment for LDS, this can and probably will change for the better, most likely at the expense of Zares which (save a terrible faux pas) seems set on comfortably making it to the parliament. Furthermore Jelinčič’s nationalists seem to have suffered from a split with Saško Peče’s Lipa, although the latter apparently did not pick up SNS‘s missing votes. And – last but not least – Slovene People’s Party (SLS) can build on the 4,9 percent it got this time around, although the recent switch at the helm of the party apparently failed to generate support on its own.

Pengovsky’s projection: SD will continue the downward trend for another month or two, while smaller coalition parties (SLS and DeSUS) take over the stage as they will be vigorously opposing possible sale of Slovene Telecom and Triglav Insurance, thus threatning stability of Janša’s coalition – mostly to get additional press coverage and stir up some more shit. LDS will have to come up with an ingenious ploy to drum up additional support, but the same goes for Zares which cannot break into the Mipos Dance of Joy yet as its support is much to wobbly at this time. N.Si will seem to go below radar, but due to its specific voter base this will mostly mean securing some additional grass-roots support. The endgame continues.

Slovenia All Stars Draft

Borut Pahor, the leader of the Social Democrats and self-styled (literally!) next Prime Minister yesterday cut another notch in his belt which (to put it colorfully) holds his would-be-primeministerial pants. Namely, he snached Mitja Gaspari from the arms of the rival left-wing LDS singining “an agreement on political cooperation” with him.

Photo by Matej Družnik (source)

You probably remember Mitja Gaspari as the not-so-lucky loser of the presidential elections when he lost second place to Danilo Türk by less than 3000 votes. Türk went on to win the second round and be elected President with the largest majority ever, while Gaspari was sort of left sulking in the corner, perhaps feeling that LDS on whose balot he ran did not do enough to support him (bear in mind that this party is only begining to recuperate from a disastrous breakdown following losing the 2004 election).

But Gaspari was one (well, the only one) of LDS’s remaining assets. A victim of Janša’s devious backstabbing, Gaspari is considered to be more or less politically clean – although, truth be said, he did (or was forced to) cut some corners early in his career as a finance minister and later as the Governor of the Central Bank. For this (and for the fact that he is considered to be an economic gradualist) he is roundly hated by more fervent of reformists (the Young Economists as they are known here).

Be that as it may be, Gaspari makes the left part of the voting body generaly feel good. And with Borut Pahor co-opting him, the latter has gained some much need firm ground in economy. Curiously enough, by doing so, he emulated Janša’s co-opting the Sexy MotherFuckers (a.k.a. The Young Economists, organised into Slovene Macroeconomic Forum (SMF) and somethimes lovingy called by their pimp-name). Which can of course be interpreted as a lack of economic background by Pahor and his immediate team.

There are subtle differences, though. While Janša was advocating hasty reforms and bought a pre-packaged economic platform (together with hate speech aimed at anyone who didn’t approve of reforms), Pahor is apparently intent on making Gaspari a super-minister who will coordinate economic, social and financial portfoilos, a sort of Slovene version of Wolfgang Clement.

Furthermore, Gaspari’s turning from one party to another is a huge blow to LDS which as of yesterday has little to show to the electorate save an admittedly attractive president (sorry, Borut!) and a star-studded but out-of-the-spotlight team of economists. This was more than obvious yesterday when party president Katarina Kresal said that “a change of government is in this country’s best interests but if thinking that one can rule alone is a huge mistake” (source). Which of course would be correct had LDS been at a par with the Social Democrats in the public opinion polls.

While I am the first to agree that Borut Pahor and his Social Democrats are quite likely to get too cocky too soon (probably even before the elections which might very well cost them the victory), the trend as it stands now is obvious: we are at the height of political consolidation, where both main parties (opposition SD and Janša’s rulling SDS) are in the market for any of the remaining players who would bring aditional votes, while the rest of the political spectrum are either left gaping, are overly self-involved or increasingly working on their platforms – case in point being Zares (remember them?) which is today held it’s platform conference. Oh, and by the way: Lea Iskra, assistant to Borut Pahor in his Brussels office, was working for the campaign of France Arhar, a conservative candidte for Ljubljana mayor supported by Janša’s coalition. I’m not saying that she shouldn’t switch jobs or even alleignances – I’m just trying to point out that people is general are feeling a showdown in imminent and most of them feel they need to pick sides.

Slovene political parties are digging in and drafting every free player available. An all-stars game is yet to be scheduled, but the Left and the Right team are already in the gym. So, who wants courtside tickets? :mrgreen:

Nationalists In Disaray – Or Are They Faking It?

The parliamentary group of Slovene National Party has split yesterday in what was a most unexpected beginning to the 2008 political season. The party, which – contrary to expectations – won six seats in the parliament in 2004 elections is what I like to call a post-modern party: its political platform is a patchwork of different policies and ideologies, many of which are in direct contradiction with one another (like combining reverence for the Partisan movement with proto-facistic ideology), but – somewhat suprprisingly – this has not damaged the party’s appeal to those voters who for one reason on another decide not to vote for any of the mainstream parties.

Sašo Peče and Zmago Jelinčič (photo by The Firm™)

SNS has seen its heyday in 1992, when it got as much as ten parliamentary seats (then too, its caucus split, but for different reasons), but 2004 was a fruitful year as well. Party second-in-command Sašo Peče was named Vice-President of the Parliament, the highest office ever held by a member of SNS. But yesterday the party was plunged into dissaray, as half of its six-member parliamentary caucus – led by Peče – announced that they were forming a parliamentary group of their own.

As hours went by, the official story of why’s and for’s changed rapidly. Originally it was understood that Peče was gravely insulted at an SNS party (apparently he was called by his diminutive name “Saško” by a party faithful. Peče seems to react badly to this). But as hours progressed, reasons became more and more serious. Or so they would have us believe. Party president and head of the caucus Zmago Jelinčič claimed that a referendum on Croatian entry to the EU was at the gist of things (SNS is known for its hard-line anti Croatian stance), whereas Peče claimed that Jelinčič danced to the tune of PM Janez Janša and has sold out the party for his personal interests. Furthermore, the number of defectors was originally higher, but during the course of yesterday morning Bogdan Barovič had a change of heart and announced that he will not be joining the rebel group, citing family reasons!!! The story went on and by yesterday evening, Jelinčič offered another theory: that the Slovene People’s Party (SLS) was behind it, trying to dismantle the SNS from within.

Now, had this been any other party, yesterday would mean massive political earthquake. But this is SNS – the party which always somehow made it, even if it meant swithching from nationalistic rhetoric to condmening NATO airstrikes against Serbia and siding openly with Serbs. You see, if had to describe Zmago Jelinčič with a single word, it would be survival. He will go to impossible lenghts to secure another term, perform ludicrous rhetorical stunts, do almost anything just to make life difficult for the larger parties which at some point will need his votes. It is also rumoured (but never proven) that he is more than willing to do a piece of dirty work for any party (say, propose an unpopular referendum) – for a price. But at the same time he is probably one of the more able political analysts out there, being able to predict outcome of events well in advance, highly intelligent, and he speaks near-perfect English 🙂

In any case, the shit that is brewing for the past couple of days smells more of a double-crossing than of anything else. Particularly telling is Barovič’s flip-flopping. The way things stand now, SNS’s causus has split into two groups of three MPs, which just happens to be the mininum number of MPs for a political group to be entitled to all the parliamentary spoils, such as their own seceretaries, monies and – TV time during election campaing. And had Barovič remained with the rebels, SNS proper would have only two MPs and would lose its status. So it was vital that Barovič or anyone else of the rebels remains with Jelinčič.

Now, I may be wrong, but having seen some of Jelinčič’s improbable stunts first hand (at one point he proposed a change in election law which would actually work against him – just to tease everyone else and send them asking “why?”) I wouldn’t put it past him if he has already made a calculation regarding the 2008 elections and saw that he needs to do something. Anything.

Elections this autumn will probably drive most of the electorate in the arms of the strongest parties, which would obviously mean a great deal of trouble for Jelinčič & Co. If he, however, somehow managed to double his media and political presence, he just might make it yet again. And so I strongly suspect that Zmago Jelinčič and Sašo Peče are putting on one hell of a show and for two reasons: Firstly, like in Black Jack, they split their bets. They will spend most of the next eight months attacking each other and everyone else, which will mean plenty of media coverage – in fact, twice as much as if they stayed in the same boat. But the other reason is simple. They just wanted to stir the pot a bit more. Jelinčič usually doesn’t give a shit about fuck about anything and this applies to his latest “marital row” as well. It is just a carefuly orchestrated show aimed at ensuring the continous political survival of SNS’s six MPs – in whatewer name, shape of form this may take place.

P.S.: As you can see, small changes to this blog are already happening. A couple of bookmarking icons and a new category will do for starters 🙂