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.