President’s Anti-Graft Appointment: Gross Negligence And Pitiful Ignorance

Following December resignation-in-protest of Goran Klemenčič, Rok Praprotnik and Liljana Selinšek On Friday President Borut Pahor appointed new three-member leadership of the anti-graft commission. The KPK is to be headed by Boris Štefanec (president), Jurij Ferme and Darko Stare (vice-presidents). Or is it? Namely, after it transpired Štefanec rescinded his membership in Positive Slovenia only a day earlier, all hell broke loose, mainly to the tune of Štefanec being inherently compromised whenever the KPK would be looking into dealings of prominent PS members.

President Pahor signing the appointments (source)

Now, no-one really know where Štefanec came from. He is reportedly practising corporate law in Murska Sobota and not being particularly visible at it. The word on the street also is that he applied at different times for a judicial and notary positions but didn’t make the cut in any of the cases. And yet, he was deemed fit to head the commission which sent shock-waves through Slovenian politics in the past few years and was a thorn in many-a-politician’s side for quite a while.

Knee-jerk reactions all over the place

Štefanec’s average CV combined with his recent PS membership culminated in calls from both sides of the aisle as well as from a plethora of media outlets for his immediate resignation. However, Štefanec is not the real problem . What we have here is a knee-jerk reactions by various players, all advocating the same measure (resignation) albeit for different reasons.

While some (mostly media) are demanding Štefanec step down because he does not meet the high standards they’ve (we’ve?) come to expect of the anti-graft people, most of the political elite is interested in precisely that: diluting the standard expected of the anti-graft commission as much as possible. Easily achieved by shooting down the new head of KPK even before he assumes his new role. It was Karl Erjavec of DeSUS who said if Štefanec does not resign it will be the end of the anti-graft commission. But the reality is that if he resigns, it will be the end of the commission as well. At least temporarily. Which is why it is utterly perverse for the political elite to judge whether the new KPK head is appropriate for the job or not.

It’s all being run by UDBA!

In this almost unison cry of political righteousness, three positions require special attention. Positive Slovenia made a bit of a fool of themselves as they said they had no idea Štefanec was their member but since he apparently isn’t any-more, they don’t see a problem. Which is a kind of a double whammy for them, since they a) inadvertently confirmed PS membership can inhibit proper execution of a public office and b) they basically said they don’t have a clue what’s going on in the party on rank-and-file level.

On the other hand, Pavle Gantar of Zares said Štefanec should indeed step aside toute-de-suite, not because the political elite doesn’t trust him, but because President Pahor made it very clear he was simply going through the motions as he said he’d have made a different choice had he the opportunity to do so. Which is basically a vote of no confidence from day one by the very person who made the appointment. Therefore Štefance, writes Gantar, should resign to protect his own integrity.

Finally, the SDS. They oppose the new anti-graft commission appointments because it’s being run by UDBA.

Complete lack of judgement

Anyways, back to reality: a lot of people who shouldn’t have passed judgement, did. But the person who should have been doing the judging, however, failed to do his job. Štefanec was appointed by President Pahor and it is with him where the responsibility for the current situation lies. That the outgoing KPK leadership is to be succeeded by apparently dysfunctional replacement is either a conspiracy or outright ineptitude.

The conspiracy theory is pretty straightforward: Štefanec, by sheer virtue of his PS membership, would be seen as undermining authority of the anti-graft commission, thereby exculpating Zoran Janković, the original PS guy. In fact, this is the subtext of the furious reactions of the last few days. But there’s a catch. Since Janković is more or less in the trajectory of the same fan-induced-faecal-mayhem as Janez Janša, easing pressure on Jay-Z automatically means easing pressure on Ivan as well. And who did Janša support in 2012 presidential elections? Yup, you guessed it: incumbent president Pahor.

But odds are, there is no conspiracy. Only gross negligence and pitiful ignorance. Namely, Pahor said he wasn’t aware of peculiarities of Štefanec’s case. That he “didn’t know”. Apparently, he was made aware of them just prior to signing the appointment, but hey, by then it might have been too late. The thing is that Pahor started shifting the blame from the very moment he made the appointment. He said he followed recommendation of the ad-hoc selection committee and that he wished he had more choice. Which is pure bullshit. He could have made no choice, stressing that no candidate meets the necessary criteria. But no, he rather resorted to a combination of negligence and ignorance, two elements upon which he built his entire political career.

A pattern emerges

Because this is not the first time something like this had happened. Way back in 2003 when he was still president of the parliament, the MPs approved what was then known as “technical law” on the Erased. The SDS-led opposition filed a motion for a referendum and the parliament voted to petition the constitutional court to stop the referendum, but – missed the deadline. President of the Parliament Pahor put the blame squarely on parliamentary services, never recognising that it was his responsibility as the most senior representative of the legislative body to see the thing through. Not to mention the fact that he had a political obligation to do so as the ruling LDS-led coalition of which he was a part of fought the referendum tooth-and-nail. But Pahor felt no long-lasting effects for this and got elected PM in 2008.

Similarly in summer 2012, just prior to official start of presidential election campaign, he said he didn’t know the financial and economic crisis would be that bad and that people around him are responsible for the fact that his 2008 – 2011 government almost completely overlooked the troubles in the banking sector. Without batting an eyelid the blame squarely to his finance minister Franci Križanič, while he himself sailed to a whooping victory in November that same year, becoming president of the country.

And now, with all these impressive entries in his CV and impressive fuck-ups under his belt, he does it again. It’s not his fault. It couldn’t be, for he didn’t know, he says. And yet, apparently he did know. He just couldn’t be bothered to take the responsibility for a decision befitting the office he holds.

EDIT @ 1530hrs In an interview for Murska Sobota-based Štefanec said he has no intention of resigning. Funnily enough, minutes ago both VPs did just that. Resign. President Pahor now has a problem the size of Texas.