Mutiny On The Bounty

Oh, boy… Contrary to what pengovsky predicted two months ago, Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković on Wednesday did in fact agree to run for president of Positive Slovenia, throwing a huge wrench in what was already a barely functional political environment. A shitstorm of epic proportions ensued which unmasked a huge rift within the party and threatened, well, omnishambles. These were temporarily put off by what for all intents and purposes was a below-the-belt move by party executive committee to postpone the congress until shortly before parliamentary elections. Which amounts to an in-party mutiny and drives a wedge between Zoran Janković and the party he founded in 2011 led to victory in parliamentary elections only seven weeks later.

Zoran Janković vs. Alenka Bratušek (not an actual representation of roles ;))

Janković went all in on Wednesday and said he will stand in party elections, thus going head-to-head against Bratušek who confirmed her running some time ago. He also rejected speculations he would back down at the very last moment and went on to state that he sees no reason why junior coalition parties would quit the coalition if he were to return to the helm of PS. Well, maybe he didn’t, but Lukšič, Virant and Erjavec sure as hell did. But more on that in a moment.

PM Bratušek was on an official visit to Serbia on Wednesday and refused to comment on Janković move, but come Thursday, she was all like Cary Elwes in Robin Hood: Men in Tights and published a written statement saying that time for play is over and told him to bring it on, saying she will quit as PM if she loses party elections (Google translate here).

The stage was set for a showdown of epic proportions. Janković’s move was either motivated by one of those Tom Cruise moments or by the notion that he has little left to lose and decided that if he has to go, he will take the party with him. The former would go against him being suicidal, especially since he did hint at a possible “third option” a couple of weeks ago, namely, his retirement some time soon. He wasn’t really serious about it, but the mere mentioning of it suggest that he did take it into consideration.

Additionally, he apparently calculated the junior coalition parties have attached themselves to enough gravy-trains to continue in a Janković-led coalition rather than to quit their respective honey-pots, regardless of their insistence in Spring that Positive Slovenija is only acceptable as a coalition partner sans Janković. Furthermore, he figured (not entirely unreasonably, it must be said) that most of PS senior figures are somehow indebted to him politically. Lastly, he figured that he could easly sway the vote in the party Congress his way. Well, turns out he was right only on the last count.

immediately after his announcement on Wednesday all three junior coalition parties said that Janković as PS president means gave over for the ruling coalition which – by extension – meant early elections within a matter of months. The only coalition party that could reap some sort of benefits from this scenario are the Social Democrats which have seen a steady streak of top ranks in public opinion polls. Thus, even if DL and DeSUS would back down on their demands, the SD would almost certainly call it quits. Which why all three junior parties were watching each other, which would flinch first. With the congress only 17 days away on Wednesday, a proper flip-flop on the issue would be hard to execute.

OT: since a fallen government would most probably result in The Troika descending from Brussels-am-Berlin, the election result would matter about as much as a pair of fetid dingo’s kidneys, but I’m sure few people even considered that.

So, this was miscalculation numero uno, not unlike the one Janković made in 2011, when he was negotiating a coalition on his own and wouldn’t cave in to personal vanities of other party leaders. It was this clash of egos that ultimately cost him his premiership and that nearly caused a total political breakdown today. Namely, his running for party president also flew in the face of those who threw him under the bus in late July. He was challenging them as much as he was challenging PM Bratušek and somehow thought his move alone would sway those still on the fence to his side. But again, since Bratušek upped the ante a day later and told him in no uncertain terms that she will only play this game is she heads both the party and the government, a lot of people suddenly stood to lose quite a lot if the government would indeed fall. Not to mention the prospect of yet another election or that of a Brussels intervention. Janković was forcing them into a battle no-one really wanted to fight. Miscalculation numero dos.

And yet, if the battle were to be fought, Janković would probably win hands-down. In this, he was correct. It goes beyond saying that the one thing Alenka Bratušek lacks is charisma. She is a technocrat. A bean-counter, if you want to be unkind to her. If she were pitted against Jay-Z on open stage, she might as well throw in the towel (which reportedly she thought of doing immediately after Zoki’s announcement). For Janković on stage is a sight to see. Regardless of whether one likes him or hates him, one has to admit that he can work the crowd. Especially if the crowd wants to be worked. And congress delegates aren’t exactly a hostile bunch. No-one expected the PS congress to be like the 14th congress of the Yugoslav communists, when the Party fell apart.

This, apparently was a fact recognised by PS ExCom which on Thursday afternoon decided to pull the rug from under Zoran Janković entirely and postpone the congress until some time before elections. Since there is no definitive date for those, the congress is as good as canceled.

But as things stand now, Zoran Janković chipped off yet another piece of what little authority Alenka Bratušek has in Slovene politics. To an extent, one can understand him. He was increasingly sidelined by his own party and no doubt saw it as going beyond the terms of his mutually agreed “freezing of party leadership”. Not the sort of person to take being left out of the loop lightly, he tried to engineer a spectacular come-back.

That he was wrong to do so, can be gauged by the simplest of methods: several prominent SDS members were supporting his bid, saying that a party leadership should be contested in an open manner. Which is all fine and well, but SDS is approving of developments in other parties only when it suits them and they too saw Janković returning to head the PS as a short-cut to early elections which they would probably win.

With these developments, the separation of Zoran Janković and Alenka Bratušek is complete and the upside for her is that no one in their right mind can now claim that hers is a puppet government controlled by Zoran Janković. In fact, it was all a bit like Admiral Roebuck versus M in Tomorrow Never Dies (at 4:10). And although the pundits say she missed her chance to establish herself as a political leader, she has only now opened the possibility to do so.

Namely, both JZ and AB remain candidates when the congress finally convenes, but by then Slovenia will either be under a Troika administration or will have fixed its finances enough to start breathing again which would give Alenka Bratušek a leg to stand on politically. Curiously enough, in all this conundrum the only support (if you can call it that) she got was from the European Commission which said that now is not the time to experiment politically. Translation: they need an operative government to work with/dictate terms to.

As for Positive Slovenia, things do not bode well. The ripple effect will no doubt be felt down the party ranks and some serious work will have to be done to repair the rift in the coming months. If that is at all possible. The very fact that congress was postponed means that party senior figures have not (yet?) won the hearts and minds of rank-and-file members. Some time in the future, there will be hell to pay. It isn’t entirely clear who will pick up the tab, but it should be noted that the mutiny on the Bounty was eventually put down.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thus Spake Zoran Janković

As expected, Ljubljana mayor and leader of the opposition Positive Slovenia Zoran Janković rejected the findings of anti-graft commission which released its bomb-shell report yesterday. Indeed, Jay-Z made his case today con mucho gusto. He maintained that no specific corruption was found in his case, stressed that he was at the commission’s disposal to clarify details if need be, that his personal assets have not increased unduly and that all of it has traceable origins. Obviously, he also ruled out the possibility of his resignation. As a bonus, the executive council of Positive Slovenia did not even take confidence vote, thus going the whole nine yards for Janković. And while we’re at it: in a confidence vote by council of his SDS, Janez Janša won 98,6 percent of the vote (281 out of 285). So, no surprises there. Yawn.

Zoki wrapping up his remarks. Photo by The Firm™

Now, it must be said that Janković did a slightly better job at explaining himself on telly this evening than Janša did last night. And that despite the fact that the anchor was the same one which kid-gloved Janša. Tonight she actually tried to press Jay-Z on a couple of points, but by the time he got on the air he got his story straight enough to go sail the programme like hot knife through butter (sail, knife, butter? Pengovsky, really? :-o) He whizzed through the numbers, made a couple of off-handed remarks about how he knows to crunch the numbers and reiterated that his assets have not increased, they’ve only changed in form (loans were returned, shares were bought, et cetera).

Playing Risk

Throughout the day Zoran Janković refused to concede a single point made in the report. And if one was very generous, one might even say Janković is correct. At least asset-wise. But what the commission states in no unclear terms is that Janković was repeatedly exposed to a high-level risk of corruptible behaviour and has indeed made this risk worse by his actions. Specifically, by having his sons every so often return part of the 8 million euro loan he effectively granted them by deferring payment when they bought his company Electa off of him and at the same time allowing the company to partake in financial transactions which included firms doing business with the city of Ljubljana or (indirectly) the city itself.

Janković maintains that no corruptive activities have taken place. Indeed, the report stops short of even hinting at such activities. OK, so Zoki is under criminal investigation for some of these activities since late September. But that’s not really the point, is it? What in pengovsky’s opinion the commission is trying to say is that not only must there be no corruption, but that elected officials must actively avoid situation where the possibility of such corruption activities existed. Janković responded by saying (more or less) this risk is always present. Which is true. But it would be awfully nice if this risk were as low as possible. For example, by not having the company your kids own do business with firms you deal with as mayor. It could be that everyone plays by the book but it don’t look very nice.

But come what may, Janković is standing ground and will not yield an inch, let alone a yard. And that has its own inner logic. Ideally, a politician resigns when the burden of fighting off allegations prevents him from doing his job effectively. He/she clears up the mess and goes back in action squeaky clean. However, this being Slovenia and all, a resignation is viewed as practically the same as admission of guilt. Just ask Katarina Kresal. Janez Janša probably did the same math and came up with the same result. Which is why both leaders have not shied away from astonishingly unanimous support by their respective parties and have had other people denounce the commission for overreaching and/or not doing its job properly.

Mexican Stand-off

On this note: the outburst by MP for Positive Slovenia Maša Kociper who went squarely against the commission saying that it did not execute due process and that such things have been known to have been politically motivated. Now, we’ve become used to statements like this from the people over at SDS and fellow travellers. Indeed, we have heard them. Today and yesterday. Plenty of them. But apparently even Maša Kociper whom Janković tipped as his choice for the president of the parliament back in 2011, could not resist the urge. Which is a shame, really.

So, what we have here is in fact a political Mexican stand-off Slovenia style. Neither Janša nor Janković will resign, but their posses are screaming bloody murder demanding the other guy quits. Lovely, innit? Add to that the predictable but nevertheless disgusting manoeuvres by Janša and his team about how Slovenia will come to a standstill if his government is not allowed to continue (and that whoever brought it down better know what they are doing) and you see that Friday will be much fun indeed.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Has Janković Had Enough?

Days ago Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković for the second time this month dropped a hint in the passing which none of the news media seems to have picked up. Namely, that this will be his last term as mayor of the capital. At the start of a new school year Zoki, while cutting the ribbon at the new building of Ljubljana Waldorf school said that any further expansion projects will be overseen by the new mayor. While there were a few gasps in situ nobody made a big deal about it. Ditto two days ago, when upon unveiling the concept of a new housing project, he announced the new head of City Administration (to take over soonest) and told her that she will have to see that the next mayor will provide funds for the project as well.

Tired? Fed up? Bored? Or just having fun… (photo by yours truly)

Now, Zoki being Zoki, this could mean absolutely nothing. He can change his mind in split second, again full of zest and vigor and carry on as if nothing happened. On the other hand, he does seem a bit, well, fed up. Also, things are not going especially well for him. After being subjected to a year-long tax audit, his case was now referred to the state prosecution which will decide whether or not to press charges. No points for guessing what the decision will be.

The list goes on. In some circles he is constantly being mentioned as a possible “technocratic prime minister”, a sort of Slovenian Mario Monti (but much less sombre), but in pengovsky’s opinion those are just wet dreams of people who still think in terms of getting to the power first and thinking about everything else second. Janez Janša and his government are a fine example of this approach and the disaster it brings about.

All things considered, it seems extremely unlikely that Janković will (again) resign before his term is up. But if he really intends to make this his last term as mayor, political parties in the capital should start getting their asses in gear, because right now not a single one of them can produce a person with enough clout to cover all the bases in the city. Autumn 2014 may turn out to be plenty of fun.

Enhanced by Zemanta

How Borut Pahor Is Turning Into A Slovenian Joe Lieberman

Slovenian Social Democrats are up for a long-overdue post-election convention on 2 June and all signs point to a bloodbath. Borut Pahor is facing multiple challengers and the next two weeks will probably see precious few punched being pulled. Of the three, Pahor’s main rival is Igor Lukšič, party heavyweight and ideologue who used to be the brains behind Pahor’s rise to power and served as minister of education in the previous government. Lukšič was removed from Pahor’s inner circle quite unexpectedly in a small scale party purge soon after the 2008 election victory and little love was lost between the two since then.

Borut Pahor never really came to terms with the results od 2011 parliamentary elections. What by any measure was a defeat of epic proportions, he strove and still strives to present it as a “good enough” result, saying that the SD got 10 percent even though some pre-election polls showed as little as three-point support. But fact of the matter is that the SD would score in the vicinity of ten percent even if it were led by a ventriloquist’s puppet Which, incidentally, is how many people see Pahor in the first place.

Pahor was not a bad Prime Minister. In fact, he and his government had the right instincts and addressed the correct issues. The arbitration agreement with Croatia alone is enough to give the man a Medal of Honour. The fact that he tried to offset the first onslaught of the worldwide economic meltdown by raising the minimum wage while the business sector cried murder was a gutsy move. And to his credit, his government came up with a set of sweeping labour market and pension reforms, which – as both of you readers know full well – went down the drain courtesy of the unholy alliance between the right-wing opposition and the labour unions. But good ideas are a dime a dozen and after suffering the traumatising defeat on the super-referendum vote, Borut Pahor was never able to recognise that the buck stops with him and never took responsibility. Yes, the unions fucked him over (paying dearly for it under current Janša administration). Yes, the then-opposition went to epic lengths to undermine any and all policies he came up with and relentlessly beat the drums on various cockamamie scandals which turned out to be nothing but elaborate character assassinations. But at the end of the day, it was Borut Pahor who was at the helm of the country and he counted on everyone else to help him steer the ship while he was running out of ideas on what to do next. And this is where he reached the point of no return.

When Pahor Met Merkozy

When his tenure was nearing the terminal stage, he liked to use the phrase “Franco-German train” which was suppose to mean that Slovenia should follow France and Germany in their economic policies. In fact, he’d often say “either we’re on that train or we are no more”. This Franco-German railway arrangement soon thereafter became known throughout Europe as Merkozy, shorthand for hardcore austerity and an all-out neoliberal agenda. Which is what Pahor bought into as the lack of vision on his part settled in completely and he became preoccupied with his legacy and immediate political future. Bottom line: No matter how often he quoted Churchill, unlike the old English fart Borut Pahor was not a PM fit for a time of crisis.

This became painfully obvious just prior to elections, when (against many an advice) Zoran Janković went national and the obviously-outgoing PM went ballistic, concocting a phrase “behind-the-scenes uncles” which supposedly handled Janković, instructing him to take over the reins of the political left-wing from Pahor. This line of reasoning conveniently forgot to take two things into account: a) that Pahor never really steered the left wing (although he wanted to) and b) that by that time Janković was way beyond anyone’s control including that of former president Milan Kučan who (pengovsky has it on good authority) privately advised Janković not to enter national politics. Such reasoning pushed Pahor ever more towards Janez Janša and – augmented by his chronic and notorious need for compromise – played a key part in him not lifting a finger when Janković was tripping over his own legs trying to clinch the PM post (and failing miserably).

Step by step, inch by inch, Borut Pahor was nearing a position where his positions were becoming very similar to those of Janez Janša and his government. Most notably on the fiscal rule, which apparently was the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused a very public rift within the party and its parliamentary group. As a result. the constitutional amendment enacting the fiscal rule does not have the necessary 60 votes in the parliament, but staying true to his reality-denying self, Pahor maintains that eventually he’ll deliver the necessary votes, allowing the government of Janez Janša to pass the amendment.

Falling Down: “I’m the bad guy?!”

Now, whether or not this is just a matter of political physics (distancing from one object inevitably draws you nearer to another object) or a carefully executed masterplan remains to be seen. With Pahor’s modus operandi to date, this would indeed seem more like an accident and I can totally see him as Michael Douglas in Falling Down, when he finally realises what he’s done and says “You mean, I’m the bad guy!?” But he’s not there yes. In fact if one were to draw a parallel, one could compare Borut Pahor to Senator Joe Lieberman, who – as you’ll remember, used to be the next Vice-President of the United States, but then gradually gravitated towards the Republican party, at one point actually addressing the GOP convention in 2008, supporting John McCain against Barack Obama. Interestingly enough, Pahor did in fact make several appearances at various right-wing pow-wows but thus far limiting it to addressing think tanks and affiliate organisations. Why?

Well, our why-can’t-we-all-just-get-along-and-love-me top-tier politician is widely expected to run for President of the Republic in the upcoming election. Which is somewhat weird, given that the incumbent Danilo Türk is of left-wing provenance and was more than once a target of a smear campaign, case in point being Archivegate concocted by the SDS. Given that Janez Janša already put forward his candidate Milan Zver, MEP, Pahor running for the highest office in the country seems illogical. But then again, nobody ever accused him of being logical.

You Want Me In That Office. You Need Me In That Office!

You see, Pahor was on the brink of running for that very same office in 2007 and went through a very tragicomic and very Pahor-like episode of public soul-searching including admitting on live television that he simply doesn’t know what to do. He was eventually persuaded by his inner circle to take a pass and go for the PM spot a year later. Which he did and succeeded. But his overtures to the political right wing, provided that there is at least a tiny bit of logic behind them suggest, that he wants a crack at the job and he wants it now. Which is why he is reluctant to criticise Janša with anything harsher than “we don’t always see eye to eye”. This would also imply that he has (or thinks he has) some sort of a deal with Janša on this issue.

But if that is the case, his clinging to party leadership is all the more illogical. True, it doesn’t say anywhere that a sitting party president can’t be the head of state, but of the few high standards that were set in Slovene politics, a non-party president is one of them. Milan Kučan, Janez Drnovšek and Danilo Türk, the three individuals holding the office to date were either unaffiliated with any party (Tűrk) or relinquished their active party roles prior to or upon assuming office (Kučan and Drnovšek). Pahor, on the other hand, is fighting tooth-and-nail to continue as the top dog of the Social Democrats and it would make little sense to quit the job only months after the convention. Provided of course that he’d keep the party job and then win the presidential election.

None of the two are certain, mind you. OK, his chances of surviving the in-party challenge are marginally better, but a lot can change in the two weeks. Fact of the matter is that the party is split, especially those senior party members who can throw some weight around. The parliamentary group and Borut Pahor more often than not appear to be two different items and the two things that work in Pahor’s favour are the fact that there are three challengers: former minister of education and party ideologue Igor Lukšič, former minister of transport and the “cool guy” of the crowd Patrick Vlačič and a former member of National Council Zlatko Jenko. This of course practically ensures that the opposition vote will split at least two if not three ways.

Challenge For The Challenger

Of the three, Lukšič is the only one who is capable of mounting a serious challenge. He’s an old party hand, knows Pahor inside and out and was with the party through thick and thin. Which buys him quite a lot of clout. He’s also a very harsh critic of austerity measures and recognises that the left as a whole needs to reinvent itself. His problem is that he’s no good at sound-bites and sometimes has trouble getting the message across. Which may be Pahor’s second saving grace. The current SD president has neither the results nor the content to continue in his capacity. But he just might. It’s not that Lukšič doesn’t know the inning and the score, it’s just that he has trouble hitting the home run. And as we’ve seen time and again, “close” doesn’t cut it. We’ll see if Lukšič can get his act together in the next two weeks.

As for his implied presidential ambitions, you can bet your ass that Janša will once again try to screw him over and clinch the office for a right-wing candidate for the first time in history of this country. The scenario is farily simple: First, he’d enjoy seeing Pahor take on Türk, splitting the left-wing vote down the middle, thus increasing chances of Milan Zver making it to the second round, possibly facing Pahor. Should that happen, a lot of left wing voters would probably stay at home in protest during the second round of the vote, practically giving the victory to Zver. And even if Pahor won, Janša would be only marginally worse off, since Pahor would (as per custom) go above and beyond the call of duty to indulge Janša over and over again. And if somehow both Pahor and Türk made it to the second round, Janša would obviously support Pahor, achieving the same result.

In fact, the only situation Janez Janša wishes to avoid in the presidential election this autumn is a face-off between Danilo Türk and Milan Zver, be it in the first or the second round. And Borut Pahor seems to be working hard to prevent that from happening.

P.S.: Many apologies for not posting in over two weeks. Again, things to see and people to do…

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Return of the Jay-Z

Zoran Janković is to be sworn as mayor tomorrow and I still owe you a run-down on his victory on mayoral by-elections on 25 March, so here it goes: While the result was a virtual no-brainer, the whole episode is slightly more interesting than it may seem at first glance. As you very well now, the sole reason for these by-elections was the fact that Janković was elected MP on 4 December parliamentary elections and had to relinquish his position as the Big Kahuna of the coty. After being outmanoeuvred by Janez Janša and had the premiership snatched from under the nose, Janković was faced with quite a dilemma: whether he should continue as MP and a nominal leader of the opposition, or whether he should leave the parliament and try to – as schizophrenic as this may sound – succeed himself as the mayor of Ljubljana.

Just to make sure everybody’s on the same page, pengovsky would like to remind both readers again that these were mayoral by-elections which had no effect on the composition of the city council itself with Zoran Janković List having an absolute majority of 25 out of 45 councilmen, so there was a theoretical possibility of a cohabitation. But in all honesty, the result was never in doubt. Ljubljana is Zoki’s turf and with the political right being continuously unable to mount a serious challenge to win since 1994 municipal administration reform which established Ljubljana as a single entity, the question du jour was not if Jay-Z will win, but by rather by how much. In the end the metre stopped at 61%, which is a) a repetition of his election results in 2006 and 2010 and b) still pretty awesome.

Having said that, additional and equally important issues were raised by these elections: a) why can’t the political right put up a decent fight in the capital and why it tried in vain to do so, b) what’s with the left side of the spectrum and c) what will Janković’s move from National Assembly to the City Hall mean for him and for the parliamentary opposition.

The Empire

As you know, right wing parties put forward two challengers to Zoran Janković. Mojca Kucler Dolinar, a joint SDS/NSi candidate and Matjaž Glavan, who stood for SLS. While Glavan scored a neglible 1% which is in line with that SLS got in municipal elections in 2010, Kucler Dolinar scored marginally better than she and Zofija Mazej Kuković did year and a half ago when they ran solo for NSi and SDS respectively.

But the real question is why did Kucler Dolinar run for mayor the second time knowing she’d lose. Pengovsky tried to answer this in his post running up to the elections (hoping for a reward down the road), but there are other factors to consider as well. Most of all the fact that for all intents and purposes Mojca Kucler Dolinar is now a spent force. She lost to Janković twice in a row and although one could claim that she did pretty well, she came nowhere near forcing Janković into a second round, let alone endangering him directly. This does not exactly do wonders for her political career as she has little to show for in terms of achievements. Also, word has it the joint SDS/NSi ticket was her idea but that the SDS had to formally extend the invitation since Kucler Dolinar’s NSi was strongly opposed to what they probably saw as a lost cause.

Bottom line: whatever political ambitions Kucler Dolinar might have had before 25 March are now probably up in smoke. She was probably hoping to re-enter national politics (she served as a higher education minister in the first Janša administration) but given lack of success on her part and the minute role NSi is playing the current Janša set-up, her chances are virtually nil. Ditto for any master plan she might have had to take over the party.

SDS came out of this mess virtually unhurt. From their point of view it doesn’t really matter who made the initial offer, fact of the matter is that by having Kucler Dolinar as a joint candidate they made at least a pro-forma challenge to Janković while not throwing away a name and a face they’ll have to send into battle in two-and-a-half-year’s time.

But even then they will still be faced with the same dilemma: Why can’t they win in Ljubljana? Well, the marginally younger, more urban and slightly more left-wing orientation of the population helps, but the reality is that the political right has been re-active. In other words, they always campaigned on »not doing stuff like the previous administration did it«. And had Zoki not burst on the scene in 2006, that might have just been enough. But he did and it wasn’t. As a result, they (as well as most of the other political parties) are hopelessly aping his platform which is broad enough to have encompassed most of the challenges this city will be facing in the next decade or so, as well as trying to beat him at his own game of setting goals and achieving them (or at least coming close enough). And when that doesn’t work, they fall back again to »promising not to do it like the previous guys did it«. It’s a vicious circle, which will only be broken if and when Janković (again) decides to quit the mayorship. Be it to return to the national lever, be it for good.

The Rebels

On the other hand, things are not exactly dull on the left, either. The suprise of the day was a relatively strong showing by Vito Rožej of Zares, who scored slightly above four percent of the vote, which was quite a feat for a party which barely registered with voters across the country only months ago in parliamentary elections and did only marginally better in 2010 local elections.

But before people start opening bottles of Dom Perignon ’58, we should make a few things clear. To an extent Rožej did get his four percent on account of being a relatively fresh but recognisable face on the scene (he did serve as councilman in city of Kranj and as MP in the previous parliament). Then again he was also active in the campaign for the Family Code, which must have helped. But most importantly, he had the good luck of SD, DeSUS and LDS opting not to enter the race with their respective candidates, so it is safe so say that Rožej got a fair amount of their votes as well. Just so we’re clear on that. No champagne yet, I’m afraid.

And while we’re on it: some of those votes must have gone to the lone ranger on Ljubljana politics Miha Jazbinšek, who scored a record 6 percent of the vote.

The return of the Jay-Z

So, the one last thing that remains to be answered is what will the return of the Jay-Z mean for the situation on the parliament? In the short term, nothing good, really. Sure, Janković didn’t exactly loiter in the parliament and his people had to do without him on occasion. But the fact that he will be physically gone will have its repercussions. If one is to judge by the situation in his city council group upon his leaving, Janković will have to make damn sure that MPs for Positive Slovenia don’t lose focus, motivation and go for each other’s throats. Because once the Big Kahuna is gone, a lot of small and mid-sized Kahunas will try to impose themselves unto their colleagues, despite the fact that the parliamentary group is headed by Janković’s former vicemayor and still-serving Ljubljana councilman Jani Möderndorfer. He will have his work cut out for him once Zoki is gone.

As for the left wing in general, things will become much more interesting. It is no secret that litlle love is lost between Janković and leader of SD Borut Pahor. That much became plainly obvious after the SD gave a cold shoulder to Zoki when he tried to rally all left wing parties some days ago and everyone save the Social Democrats and SMS-Green Party attended. The SD implicitly accused the re-minted mayor of trying to take over the left and impose himself unto others and they might have even been correct to an extent. But fact of the matter is that the SD finally started settling in-party scores and is locked in a bitter power struggle between Borut Pahor and Igor Lukšič, with the latter pulling no punches (and having no reason to, sice Pahor sidelined him early in his premiership for no apparent reason).

If Janković really wanted to unite the left under a common banner, he should have waited a couple of weeks, two months at best, for the shit to hit the fan witihn SD and for the defeat on the Family Code referendum to really sink in and he’d have almost all of the left eating out of his hand. But as things stand, he jumped the gun again (just as he did immediately after his election victory) and came out more or less empty handed.

But be that as it may, with Zoki in the City Hall as of tomorrow, a new centre of political power on national level is starting to emerge and it could very well be that the end result will be a situation not unlike in Austria, where nothing happens on the political left unless the all-powerful Vienna mayor Michael Häupl OKs it. And – funnily enough – Janković always said how he considers Häupl to be his role model. I guess he meant it…

Enhanced by Zemanta