Second Republic (Again)

(note: the following should have been published last night, but the server was down for maintenance, hence the post is back-dated)

The balance of power in Slovenia has shifted. Well, the balance of power in the fast-shrinking political/media bubble at least. As results of presidential elections came in on Sunday and Danilo Türk conceded defeat, it became clear that president-elect Borut Pahor will play merely a supporting role in the new political reality. Usually, on election night the order of appearance of political players in the national press centre is clear. The defeated candidate (or candidates in case of parliamentary elections) comes first, gives the concession speech and slowly fades into oblivion. Everyone with a vested interest comes next, with the victorious side coming in last. On Sunday however, it was the president-elect who gave his victory speech in the in-between slot, while Prime Minister Janez Janša had the last word. Just so everyone knew who’s the boss.

Almost 25 years ago Kongresni trg was full of people protesting for Janša. Today they protest against him.

And what a speech it was. While lauding the victory of Borut Pahor, he announced – in the wake of the wave of protests which is still sweeping the country – nothing short of changes to the political system of this country, hinting at sweeping changes in the judiciary, self-government, election system, the constitution and so on. Pahor’s speech, on the other hand, was full of fluff.

At any rate, it took Janša less than 48 hours to come up with a slightly more detailed, eleven-point plan on revamping the political system:

-Electing MPs directly
-Provide for possible re-call of an elected MP
-Provide for possible re-call of mayors and city/municipal councilmen, limit mayors to serving two terms maximum
-Disband the National Council
-Institute a trial period for all newly appointed judges
-Keep the permanent mandate for judges after the trial period, but subject all existing judges to re-election by the Judiciary Council which is to be strengthened with judicial experts and supreme judges from other EU member states
-Set up a special court dealing in the worst cases of white-collar crime. Judges in this court to be nominated by the President and appointed by the parliament with a 2/3 majority
-Set up financial police
-Disband all agencies and institutions which cannot be found in other EU member states
-Take away all privileges enjoyed by elected officials after they leave office
-Provide for a simpler procedure to call early elections and form the government.

The political/media bubble was taken by surprise. It needn’t be. The “sweeping reforms of the political system” are nothing more than the same old story Janša has been going on about for fifteen years now, only slightly updated. You don’t believe me? Here’s a version from 2009 and here is the 2011 edition. No wonder Janša was able to come up with the latest version so fast. He merely updated the file on his iPad.

But despite all the waves Janša and his SDS made with the latest incarnation of the “Second Republic”, this is little more than clever diversionary tactics. Pengovsky tweeted as much yesterday evening and Janša’s further statements today only prove this point.

Namely, a day earlier leader of Social Democrats Igor Lukšič, trying to capitalise on Borut Pahor’s presidential victory, went in front of the cameras and said that early elections were needed in order to break the political deadlock this country is facing. But when journos pressed him on the issue, asking why doesn’t he simply move for a no-confidence vote, he said plain and simple that his party can not muster the 46 votes necessary to overthrow the government.

I mean, talk about political amateurism… Lukšič said this country is in a political deadlock. He added that it can only be broken via early elections (the same instrument Borut Pahor bent over backwards to avoid a year and a half ago). And yet at the very next moment he admits that he has a snowball’s chance in hell to bring Janša’s government down. Correct me if I’m wrong, but a government which you can’t really bring down is not particularly unstable, no? In fact, one would be hard pressed to put words “unstable government” and “Janez Janša” in the same sentence. Case in point being the fact that Janša is the only PM in the last sixteen years to have completed a full four-year term.

Janez Drnovšek was ousted as PM only months before his 1996 – 2000 term endend, Andrej Bajuk replaced him for eight months, only to see Drnšovek get re-elected later in the year and then quit two years later to get elected President. Tone Rop took over for the remainder of the term and got his ass whooped by Janša in 2004. Pahor took over in 2008 and saw his coalition crumble in 2011, forcing early elections later in the year, which – after a failed PM bid by Zoran Janković – reinstated Janša at the helm. Lukšič thus shot himself in the knee big time only hours after his man pulled off a political stunt of the decade and got elected president after first having been ousted as PM and later as party chief.

Janša obviously capitalised on Lukšič’s open-mouth-insert-foot moment and offered to hold early elections two months after all eleven points of his newest plan. But to call early elections would mean that the parliament would have to dissolve itself and with this in mind it becomes clear that chances of early elections right now are about two to the power of 276709 to one. It is thus obvious that the latest Janša blueprint is just a semi-clever ploy.

Truth be told, both Igor Lukšič of SD and Zoran Janković of PS rejected Janša’s blueprint, but since this was expected, SDS tried to sell this particular load of fecal matter as its response to the demands of the protesters in the street. There’s one caveat, though. While it is true that a few of Janša’s proposals are broadly going the same directions as the protesters’ demands, the PM is bending over backwards trying to side-step the fundamental demand – that he resign from office. And most of the political elite with him. The people don’t want changes which would lead to Janša’s even greater grip on power. They want heads rolling.

And in all honesty, Janša too doesn’t need this blueprint. He and his government are working hard to dismantle remodel in their own image education, health and judicial systems. With the media under pressure yet again, he can achieve his “second republic” just fine even without it. He already controls the parliament. He controls the economy. And as of last Sunday, he also controls the president of the republic. Not sure if Borut Pahor knows this, but that’s the way it is. The Second Republic is already here, its just that we’ve been too busy to notice. And Janša wants to keep it that way.

The only unknown in this scenario are protests. The political class, even down to “middle managers” is shit-scared and they honestly don’t know how things will turn out. I don’t think anyone does. Individuals who started the riots are apparently in police custody and newspapers report they were well organised, paid to stir up trouble and that the trail of money leads to a particular political party (no points for guessing which one). And among those arrested yesterday in Maribor are apparently four members of the Slovenian army.

The plot thus thickens. Mayor of Maribor Franc Kangler announced he will be resigning as mayor tomorrow, reportedly after having a pow-wov with Janša. Well, too little, too late. Demands of the protesters have long evolved beyond the issue mayor Kangler. Had he resigned ten days ago, he might have been able to prevent the havoc. But he didn’t and he couldn’t. Which is why he is no longer relevant and his resignation solves nothing. The people will apparently take to the streets once more and with Kangler out, someone else will become the primary target. Janša will do his damnest it’s not him.

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Getting Fired For Actually Doing Something?

Finance daily ran a story yesterday about PM Janez Janša is set to kick interior minister Vinko Gorenak and justice minister Senko Pličanič out of the government come Autumn. While the government communication office denied the rumours (PM Janša remains mute on the issue) the story might actually have legs given its proximity to last week’s scare about the vote of confidence.

In foreground: Senko Pličanič, left and Vinko Gorenak, right (Photo by Matej Družnik/

At any rate, a government reshuffle is quite embarrassing this early in the term of the current administration, but is also far from problematic. In fact, it has become something of a tradition for a Janša administration. Early on during his 2004-2008 stint at the top job Janša had to find a replacement for Jože P. Damijan, who resigned his post as development minister after only three months in office, reportedly due to falling out with then-finance minister Andrej Bajuk over (non)selling of NLB. Slightly off-topic: in hindsight it appears Damijan had a point back then and lost no time rubbing it in the face of his former boss (Google translate here)

It should also be said that neither Pličanič nor Gorenak (offically) have any knowledge of PM’s alleged bad blood, with Gorenak writing up a rather heavy rebuttal (again, google translation) but, interestingly, avoiding the finer points of Finance story. In fact, a lot of it is actually a classic non-denial.

But the gist of the story is somewhere else entirely. A week or so ago PM Janša appeared on Vroči Stol (Hot Seat) programme hosted by Vladimir “Vudu” Vodušek. What was basically a farcical re-run of a similar event four years ago would probably be forgotten soonest , had Vudu (now owner of a financially embattled Info TV cable TV station) not been arrested the very next morning on charges of extortion and blackmail, unofficially of a CEO of a hardware company. It was all highly embarrassing for the prime minister, who – according to the Finance story – went apeshit over not being told that Vudu was a target of a criminal investigation. And this is where things get interesting.

The only thing is that the PM is probably the last person on earth who can be told of an ongoing criminal investigation. In a democratic state politics stays out of police work. It takes the widest berth possible. Which is why Janša’s (again: alleged but not denied) reaction is highly symptomatic of how this administration sees this country: as a top-to-bottom controlled organism with no horizontally or vertically independent sub-systems and with the head knowing everything and making all the important calls. There’s a word for that and it ain’t democracy.

Minister Gorenak maintains that he never spoke to Janša about the investigation. Which is fine, even though one can understand the sentence as if he himself did have prior knowledge of the investigation (which he shouldn’t have, as the police is under his portfolio but not direct control). Which would – bizarre as it sounds – mean that interior minister Vinko Gorenak did something right for a change and is looking down the wrong end of a gun-barrel for it. Go figure. Not that he would be sorely missed, but still…

And as for minister Pličanič, he too is apparently getting the short shrift for doing too much rather than too little. According to media reports the past six months have seen (some sort of) results solely in the areas of financial austerity and public administration, the former being the portfolio of finance minister Janez Šušteršič while the latter is the domain of minister Senko Pličanič (both, incidentally, of Gregor Virant‘s Citizens’ List)

What Pličanič apparently didn’t understand was that he was meant to do as little as possible save perhaps a token effort here and there. He really should have gotten the message when the State Prosecution was detached from his portfolio (justice) and joined with internal affairs (ran by Gorenak). But as things stand, he seems to be poised to play the sad role of collateral damage.


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Andrej Bajuk (1943 – 2011)

Former Prime Minister Andrej Bajuk passed away Monday night. He shot to prominence in spring 2000 when he was put forward as a challenger to PM Janez Drnovšek whose coalition with Slovene People’s Party (SLS) had just crumbled. The latter had just undergone what for all intents and purposes was a shotgun wedding with opposition Slovene Christian Democrats (SKD) – with leader of the opposition Janez Janša holding the shotgun. The painful merger realigned the balance of power in the parliament and and as a result PM Drnovšek called a confidence vote which he lost. A short political crisis ensued and after much political wrangling Bajuk was appointed the prime minister seven months before elections were due.

Andrej Bajuk with Slovenia’s first euro notes. Photo: Arsen Perić

A Ljubljana native he fled to Argentina with his parents in 1945 aged only two and worked his way up in life from there. He did not gain prominence in Slovene diaspora, at least not in a way that would leave a mark in his homeland prior to his entry into politics. An economist by profession, he was working for the Inter-American Development Bank before he returned to Slovenia to become the nominee for the prime ministerial position. Such was the rush, that he was reportedly unable to make proper living accommodations and was living in a hotel near the parliament for some time after returning to Slovenia.

Andrej Bajuk was to become a permanent fixture in Slovenian politics for the next decade. Things got off to a rocky start, however. Late in his ill-fated stint as PM (where he was often seen as Janez Janša’s straw man, with Janša back in the saddle as defense minister actually calling the shots) he went out on a limb in what for all intents and purposes amounted to a attempted legislative coup d’état plotted by Janša.

Summer of 2000

Just prior to that fateful summer the constitutional court finally ruled in a four-year-long case of which electoral system won in a 1996 three-way referendum (majoritarian, proposed by Janša; proportional, proposed by the National Council or a combination of the two, proposed by then-ruling coalition led by LDS of Janez Drnovšek). The court ruled that the majoritarian system won although it got only 44 percent of the vote. Three of the judges who ruled in that case went on to become ministers in Bajuk’s government which in August 2000, just months before elections took the position that Slovenia doesn’t have a legal electoral system and that elections should be postponed until a new system is passed by the parliament as per the court’s ruling.

Postponing elections is, of course, a big no-no in a parliamentary democracy, doubly so if they were to be postponed not until a given date but until a (legislative) benchmark is reached. What if it is never reached? During those few weeks Slovenia was on the brink of suspending parliamentary democracy. However, the political and legal minefields were navigated successfully, as the parliament took a position opposite that of the government and amended the constitution and wrote basics of the electoral system into it, thus circumventing the Constitutional Court as well as preventing the possibility of anyone else getting the idea of claiming that it is legally impossible to hold elections.

The schism

The rift between the parliament and the government, although both were ran by the same right-wing coalition proved to be too much for the newly-merged SLS+SKD (as the new party was unoriginally called) and late in 2000 a splinter group comprised of senior Christian Democrats established Nova Slovenija (NSi) and elected Andrej Bajuk as their leader. Contrary to some expectations the new party, although leaving much membership and infrastructure with the SLS+SKD, made it to the parliament with as much as eight percent of the vote.

From strength to strength to final defeat

Things were going just great for Bajuk and the NSi. Having spent four relatively comfortable years in the opposition and making their stand on a variety of issues, including (but not limited to) first forays into what a decade later was to become the great Family Code debate, the party scored a surprising victory in the 2004 European elections where it won most of the proportional vote. Despite the victory, the party won only two MEP seats (SDS and LDS won two as well, despite finishing second and third respectively), but for Bajuk it was killing two birds with one stone. His party made a showing that would serve it for years to come and he got ‘rid’ of Lojze Peterle, his main rival to Brussels.

Later in that year Andrej Bajuk returned to the government, this time as finance minister and leader of the junior coalition member. His record is mixed. He was in office at the time Slovenia adopted the euro and was officially the first person to withdraw common European currency from a Slovenian cash dispenser. Additionally, he did in fact run the portfolio at the height of Slovene economic expansion but it remains debatable how much of the expansion was due to his, his party’s and his government’s policies and how much was simply due to going with the flow of the pre-crash casino capitalism. Conversely – and with hindsight – he did precious little to cool down the overheated economy.

No maverick

That is not to say, however, that he did not leave a mark. Reportedly, his obstinante refusal to sell the largest state owned bank Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) resulted in Jože P. Damijan quitting as minister for development after only 91 days in office, a record that is yet to be broken. Also, Bajuk was wary of introducing flat-rate tax, a cause championed by Janša and his neo-liberal economic advisors (Damijan being among them). He formed an ad hoc group headed by Marko Kranjec (who would later become the Governor of the Bank on Slovenia) and which proposed a simplified-but-still-progressive tax system as well as reducing taxes on profits and other tweaks of the Tax Code. The final result was much closer to Kranjc’s proposal to what Damjan wanted, so Bajuk can be (co-)credited with thwarting a project which would most likely send Slovenia down the drain the moment The Great Recession finally struck.

One of his pet projects was also blowing a hole in the seemingly unbreakable bond between SLS (the other coalition partner, which by then had already reverted from SLS+SKD back to its old acronym) and DARS (state-owned motorways company). The latter was widely seen to have been SLS’ turf with people flowing almost freely between the party (more exactly, the transportation ministry the party traditionally held), DARS and several big consctruction companies, most of them now gone bust as the crisis took the construction sector with it.

However, on the whole Bajuk was not a political maverick. It was intimated to pengovsky that he more often than not saw Janša as his boss rather than a partner and acted accordingly. Obviously this did not win him a lot of friends either within the party or without and opposition within ranks was mounting. By the time 2008 elections were nearing it was plainly obvious that Janša was moving to dominate the entire right wing, mostly at the expense of SLS and NSi. The former barely escaped the trap Janša had set for them and made it to the parliament, while the NSi was not so fortunate and did not pass the 4-percent treshold. Whether Andrej Bajuk did not see what was going on or was unable to do anything about it is still a matter of some debate, but after the elections results came in on election Sunday in September 2008, Bajuk did not try to cling to his chair and bid for time but did the honourable thing and announced his resignation as party chief immediate, visibly shaken at being demoted to the status of a political has-been in a matter of minutes.


On a more personal note and not so much in line with a would-be obit, I must say that pengovsky found Andrej Bajuk to be a generally agreeable person. True, he had his share of blunders and transgressions, one of them being his losing temper with a reporter for TV Slovenia who as a result was removed from covering business stories. But on the whole Andrej Bajuk was a joyful person and despite the fact that pengovsky did not agree with him ideologically and on many policy issues I can say that his politics was more or less consitent and that he was generally fun to be around.

Andrej Bajuk died aged 67.

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Pahor’s Coalition Crumbles As Erjavec Flips Him The Bird

Following Monday’s resignation of minister for local self-government Duša Trobec Bučan DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec once again threatened to quit the coalition. Only this time he meant it as the party’s executive council yesterday voted in favour of the move which – this must be said – only formally confirmed what was a “new reality on the ground” for some time now: that DeSUS was no longer a member of the ruling coalition.

Karl Erjavec doing the Top Gun thing (photo by Anže Petkovšek/Žurnal24)

As a direct result of today’s events minister of environment Roko Žarnić said he will tender his resignation, while the third minister of DeSUS “quota” Ivan Svetlik (labour portfolio) remains in his position, since Erjavec “disowned” him because it was Svetlik and his team who came up with the pension reform which DeSUS vigorously opposes and which will be put up for a referendum vote.

Minority government

Technically, this leaves the coalition of Social Democrats, Zares and LDS with 42 out of 46 needed votes to secure a majority in the parliament and in effect makes it a minority government. The government secure additional votes by wooing the three independent MPs, Franci Žnidaršič and Vili Rezman (both formerly of DeSUS) and Andrej Magajna (formerly of SD) although the latter is unlikely to cooperate since he went independent over the new law on RTV Slovenia (the law was later defeated on a referendum) and was a subject of a criminal investigation soon thereafter on suspicion of child pornography (no charges were pressed). Additionally, MPs for Hungarian and Italian minorities traditionally vote with the government, so unless new ground is broken, PM Borut Pahor can still secure a single-vote majority in the parliament. But for all intents and purposes, this is a minority government.

A minority government is not something one wishes for, especially during times of economic, social and what is shaping up to be a political crisis. Calls for early elections are therefore getting increasingly loud today. Leader of SDS Janez Janša already called on PM Pahor for the two parties to work together and vote for the dissolution of the parliament thus forcing new elections. On the other hand, leader of Zares Gregor Golobič proposed for leaders of all three coalition parties to step down from their positions in the government (which is effectively equal to resignation of the entire government) and elect a new government with a sole aim of attempting to win the referendum on pension reform. Obviously, both Janša and Golobič are playing an angle here but pengovsky suspects their true goals are exactly the opposite of their stated goals. To put it bluntly, I think it is Golobič who is trying to force early elections and Janša who is desperate to avoid them.

Pieces have fallen into place

Consider the timing. DeSUS has threatened to quit the coalition on so many occasions that nobody was taking it seriously anymore. But then it decided to walk out only a week after the National Assembly was back to the full complement of 90 deputies as the convicted Srečko Prijatelj of opposition SNS was replaced by Sara Viler. With this and DeSUS’ bailing out of the coalition it suddenly became possible for Janez Jansa to form a right-wing government, And if he were to convince all three independent MPs to support him, he wouldn’t even need minority MPs. Therefore, it all points to a conclusion that Erjavec’s move was coordinated with Janša and that what we saw on Monday was fully premeditated course of action.

Obviously, there are caveats to this logic, first and foremost being that Janša looks poised to win the next elections, be they a week or a year from now. However, at this moment he lacks one crucial element – an election platform. In fact, he and his party only began to initiate procedure which would eventually lead to forming a proper platform, but as thing stand now they’re not even close. Thus if elections were to be held any time soon, all Janša would have to run on would be his anti-government/anti-reform stance, which would make it very hard for him to explain how he intends to bring the country from the brink of an economic collapse.

On the other hand, Golobič and indeed the entire coalition (what’s left of it, anyway) would benefit from early elections for those very same reasons. While they would probably be up for some serious ass-whooping, but quite probably much less than they would be a year and a half from now. While this may sound stupid at first glance, the coalition has virtually zero problems platform-wise. Their problem lies in the unprecedented unpopularity of the government. Which is one of the reasons Golobič made his move yesterday.

But to have early elections it’s not enough for the parliament to simply dissolve itself as Janša would have us believe. For the dissolution to take place, several constitutional conditions must be met, chief among them being the inability of the parliament to elect a new government. Pengovsky covered the issue in this post, but just a re-cap: Once the PM resigns (or a new one is elected via a no-confidence vote), the parliament has three attempts to appoint a new government nominated by the PM-elect. In the first two attempts 46 votes are needed, while in the third attempt only a relative majority is needed. Given that Janša can muster 46 votes at any time, it is highly unlikely that a new left-wing government will be elected.

That, however, does not necessarily mean we’re up for elections any time soon. Also, Janez Janša might be tempted to take over as PM sans elections via a no-confidence vote. Not only would he thus avoid awkwardness of explaining why exactly did he oppose the government on social reforms, he would also be slightly better equipped to handle the Patria Affair, where he is (let us not forget) about to stand trial for aiding and abetting in corruption.

Wisdom and historical precedents dictate, that Janša skips the opportunity to take over the government, especially after the fiasco in 2000, when shortly before elections when Janša masterminded toppling of the government of Janez Drnovšek and a right-wing government was formed with Andrej Bajuk, only to lose spectacularely in elections six months later. But Janša is not known for learning from his political mistakes, so this will be fun to watch.

Slightly OT: Regardless of the way Janša becomes PM yet again, it would be oodles of fun watching how an indicted person gets elected to a top political office. Only in Slovenia, people! 🙂

Defending status quo long after quo had lost its status

PM Pahor is not keen on stepping down of his own accord, as this would imply that a) he had run out of options and b) he admits to making bad calls in the past. The same goes for his party, which found itself between a rock and a hard place: it has an utterly unpopular leader and no one of note to replace him. But sitting this one out is not an option, so sooner rather than later things will begin moving in that department as well. They might be tempted to try and wait until the referendum on pension reform. But that’s a good two months away and a lot can happen between now and then so that is probably the worst course of action they can take at this moment. As things stand, status quo can simply not be defended.

And this is a lesson which Karl Erjavec will apparently learn the hard way. He quit the coalition over pension reform. Again, there is plenty of historical precedent on quitting a coalition and history teaches that every (and I mean every) party which went down that road was later punished for it on election night. Slovenes simply don’t like rats. Period.

How will it play out?

In the final analysis it turns out that – as is often the case in politics – black is white and white is black. Given the fact that we’re up for three more referendums between now and the summer – pension reform, black market labour and possibly access to top secret archives – there will be plenty of opportunity for the parties to take it out on one another and thus show what exactly is their position (or lack thereof) on various issues.

Early elections are an option, but a remote one. An interim government is far more likely, but who will form it remains an open question at this stage. As things stand now, pengovsky would place a wager on Janša at least attempting to form what he would probably call a national unity government. But that can change, so watch this space…

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Killing Križanič Softly (With His Song)

Finance minister Franci Križanič is on the outs, it seems. Yesterday the Court of Audit released a follow-up report on several issues pertaining to ministry of finance, and in several cases found that no improvement was made and declared a grave dereliction of duty by the ministry and as a result recommended to Prime Minister Borut Pahor to start the demission procedure for minister Križanič.

Franci Križanič, once dubbed minister for optimism (source)

This basically a remake of what was happening to Karl Erjavec of DeSUS a year ago almost to the day. Back then PM Pahor said publicly that he has no choice but to heed to the request of the Court of Audit and this should be the standard course of action from now on. Which puts him in a bit of a tight stop this time around, especially since Franci Križanič is not just anybody but a heavyweight of Pahor’s very own Social Democrats. On the other hand, he is also very accident prone and has had Pahor save his ass publicly on a couple of occasions. Without going into too much detail, the gist of the matter is that in the opinion of the Court of Audit the ministry’s accounts are not up to standard. This is not something new and the auditors first raised hell way back under Janša’s government, when finance portfolio was held by all-but-forgotten Andrej Bajuk and it is safe to say that things go even further back. But the point is that the ministry is now run by Križanič and that things still aren’t in order.

Officially, PM Pahor gave Križanič a week to explain himself and the finance-minister-in-peril already said that he has no intention of resigning. However, this is more or less the same song we’ve heard in case of Erjavec. In fact, rather than being between a rock and a hard place, Pahor might be looking for a remake of that particular hit-single. We’ve seen time and again that a vocal support from the prime minister can soon crumble into sun dust, cases in point being several former ministers. Furthermore, Pahor has the ability to play stupid and claim no hidden agenda to the point of everyone else’s huge embarrassment, usually resulting in other people doing his dirty work. And so far all the signs point to Pahor cutting Križanič loose.

So, why would he do that? First of all, Križanič is about as popular a fetid dingo’s kidney. True, finance ministers tend to get that way, especially during times of economic crisis. But apart from objective reasons, Križanič has has more than his share of fuck-ups. He is also apparently heavily at odds with minister for development Mitja Gaspari who (apart from being former governor of the Bank of Slovenia) once held the post of finance minister so he pretty much knows the turf. But the main issue seems to be the immediate fate of Nova Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) the largest state owned bank, where Križanič supposedly favoured strong state ownership, while Gaspari suppose to be a bit more, well, liberal, in that respect.

And then there’s the inter-party thingie. Križanič is an SD heavyweight, especially powerful within Ljubljana branch of the party. It was some time since Pahor shook up his own party ranks and opposition within the party has built up in the mean time. Križanič represented the more “social” part of Social Democrats and was apparently on good terms with old party hands and also won praise from the party’s youth organisation (not that the latter bears any significance). So what we are witnessing might possibly be described as killing a few stones with one bird, with PM Pahor giving the finger to the opposition within the party as well as getting rid of a minister of mixed fortunes and who just might have outlived his usefulness.

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