At first glance, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II does not seem especially pertinent to the politics of Muddy Hollows. In fact, other than a couple of boilerplate expressions of condolences by the nation’s highest elected officials and a botched (and then deleted) tweet by the Glorious Leader, the death of the worlds longest-serving monarch in, like, ever, was primarily a media fascination.
That is not to say, however, the late queen and Slovenia never crossed paths. Fourteen years ago, Her Majesty popped over for a three-day state visit. The occasion was correctly seen as a major diplomatic success for a country that had joined the EU and NATO only four years earlier.
In a reprehensible, yet entirely predictable escalation of a series of anti-covid-pass protests last Tuesday, Muddy Hollows’ capital Ljubljana was the scene of a demonstration-turned-riot that saw liberal use of tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets as well as mounted and K9 units. It was, in short, fun for the whole family.
This was in stark contrast to the week before when a similar but larger protest took place and the police more or less just stood by, dispersing the crowd only when it entered the Ljubljana bypass and briefly stopped traffic. This time around however, everyone was spoiling for a fight. The Covid-sceptic mob, the police and the government. And a fight was what everyone got.
You might not realise it, but this coming Sunday local (municipal) elections are to be held in all of 212 municipalities in Slovenia. If you’re asking how in the holy fuck did Muddy Hollows end up with two hundred and twelve municipalities, pengovsky can only say: don’t ask.
Destrnik hopeful Franc Pukšič sending mixed messages (source)
But if you insist and want to have your mind blown, suffice it to say it has to do with some half-baked decentralisation back in the 1990s, when the old commune system was dissolved and municipalities formed on the principle of “natural gravitation”, i.e. defining local societal centres and setting up a fairly flexible set of criteria for forming municipalities. This link provides a nice path down the rabbit hole that are Slovenian municipalities.
One of the perennial questions of Slovene election cycles as of late is WWJZD. What will Zoran Janković do. For some reason the mayor of Ljubljana is still considered a force to be reckoned with in national politics and his shadow seems to loom large over for many on the right wing (and some on the left as well), often-times plunging them in a psychosis-like mental state where they being seeing everything that is happening as interventions by the Deep State/Udbomafia/Uncles-in-the-shadows/Lizard people [in a Slavoj Žižek voice] and so on and so on…. And this latest bout paranioia was not helped by Janković’s press conference earlier today where he said he will be somehow getting involved in the national elections
You’d be forgiven for forgetting, but the mayor of Ljubljana still moonlights as president of Positive Slovenia (PS), a party which by virtue of himself as a charismatic leader, some very clever PR and a fair dose of tactical voting, narrowly won the 2011 elections, relegating Janez Janša and his SDS to a runner-up position. In what was a textbook episode of political foolhardiness, Janković however failed to win the prime-ministership for himself, paving the way for Janša 2.0 government. From there on, things only went downhill for Positive Slovenia which has ceased to be a forced to be reckoned with just as fast as it became one.
For a few long moments on Thursday it seemed as if the government of Miro Cerar drew its last breath. The issue at hand was an agreement between the minister of health Milojka Kolar Celarc and the FIDES, the medical doctors’ trade union (not to be confused with Victor Orban’s Fidesz) which ostensibly put an end to the MDs’ week-long strike. The thing is that at the same time the other public sector unions were negotiating with the government on rolling back austerity measures and getting what they see is their due. On top of that the doctors, unusually, weren’t getting a pass by the public opinion which normally forgave their antics regardless of how baseless they may have been (because doctors and shit). All of this while the government was about to unveil a much-anticipated draft of health-sector reform, a move which by definition makes a lot of players with plenty of vested interest, mighty nervous. But in the end, it all amounted to nothing.
Namely, while Karl Erjavec of DeSUS and Dejan Židan of SD were raising hell in the last couple of days on account of minister Kolar Celarc supposedly agreeing to exempt the doctors from a mechanism that regulates wages across the entire public sector, the true reasons for the entire circus were purely political and aimed at obscuring the fact that both junior coalition parties can ill afford parliamentary elections right now, for reasons both political and financial. And this, more or less goes for all political parties with the possible exception of the SMC.