An Exercise in Futility

No, this is not a blog-post about the incredible stupidity of implementation of e-voting that was floated today by minister of interior Gregor Virant. Nor it is a write-up of a fairly sensible move by the said individual to reshuffle local self-government. This is not even a take on the government plan for a (fire)sale of several state-owned companies or the storm in the teacup caused by Croatian Agrokor taking over Mercator retail chain. True, all of the above would have deserved today’s title. Instead, pengovsky will be dealing with an even that was mostly and wrongly ignored.

The NSi shadow cabinet (source)

Namely, the ChristDem Nova Slovenija (NSi) led by Ljudmila Novak formed its “shadow cabinet” a couple of days ago. The move is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it shows that even 20 years after implementation of a liberal democracy some people fail to grasp the difference between various political and electoral systems. Case in point being the shadow cabinet.

Now, to be hones, this is not the first shadow cabinet that was formed in this country. The very first one was formed by the reformed Communist party and was led by Emil Milan Pintar and was not so much of a snub to the new democratically elected government as it was an attempt to show that even the former socialist rulers know how to play this new game of democracy. Of course, it soon turned out that a shadow government in a multi-party coalition/opposition system doesn’t really cut it and although it occasionally made noises, it was more or less DOA.

Fast forward a decade or so, to 2004 when LDS spectacularly lost elections to Janez Janša‘s SDS. Amid all the in-fighting, bickering and turmoil Tone Rop formed a shadow cabinet. Whether it was to keep the party together or just out of sheer disbelief that someone else is running the country, it doesn’t really matter. Point is that the shadow cabinet became a shadow of its former self sooner than you can say “party disintegration” and it wasn’t spoken of since.

Enter Ljudmila Novak, who days ago presented her own “shadow cabinet”. Comprised mostly of party heavyweights, it was in fact not so much a “shadow cabinet” as it was a shadow of the party’s former self which only showed that being a member of the parliament is no guarantee for understanding the peculiarities of a given system of government.

Namely, a shadow cabinet is a feature of Westminster-style two-party system, where the opposition is ready to jump in with its own people running the country should the balance of power suddenly tip in their favour. On the other hand, a single party sporting a shadow cabinet in a multi-party-coalition-type system is either a joke or a show of presumptuous arrogance. Usually both.

However, from a purely political point of view the move by NSi signals something entirely different. Namely, it is a thinly veiled attempt by the party leadership to exit one particular shadow – that of Janša’s SDS. With the Party leader being convicted in the Patria case, the timing is as good as any. Thus the NSi shadow government is not so much an attempt to keep the government in check but rather to put some distance between the parties. But as a significant part of NSi rank-and-file sees Ivan as their leader in spirit if not in politics, this, too, is quite possibly an exercise in futility.

Unless, of course, Janša’s conviction is upheld by the court of appeals. And it is quite possible this is the bet Ljudmila Novak made.


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Janša Giveth, Janša Taketh Away

In a surprise move, defence minister Aleš Hojs (NSi) on Thursday dissolved the contract on purchase of Patria APCs, giving the Patria Affair yet another twist. On the surface the whole thing was declared to have been mutually agreed with both sides calling it even. Slovenia gets 30 out of 135 planned APCs while Patria gets 74 out of planned 278 million euro. But in reality, the whole thing is a mop-up operation which no doubt is overseen by PM Janez Janša.


You see, Janša giveth and Janša taketh away. While it is true that anyone can rat but only the ingenious few can re-rat, our illustrious PM definitely does not count among them. Janša and his band of merry men had to remove foot out of their mouth on more than one occasion lately. Like with the kindergarten-freebie his government instituted in the good old days but was among the first benefits to be thrown under the bus when the going got tough.

But the Patria thingie is one of definitive moments of modern Slovenian politics. For the first time a dodgy arms deal was prosecuted and for the first time a senior politician is prosecuted for it. Also, for the first time a senior politician was appointed to a top post in the country while prosecuted.

The irony of the situation could not be more pronounced. It was Janša government 1.0 which signed the contract and it is Janša government 2.0 which is dissolving it. The only difference is that the person who actually signed the now-defunct contract (Karl Erjavec of DeSUS) got promoted from defence to foreign minister. In fact one can not shake the feeling that Janša’s main purpose is to clean up after his 2004-2008 power-orgy. As far as the case against him is concerned, this doesn’t change a whole lot. I’m sure some bright soul will try to trump up some sort of legal mumbo-jumbo saying that since the contract is no more, so should the case against Janša be. But in reality the Prime Minister still stands accused of corruption in from of a criminal court.

Politically, however, things are even more funny. Ljubica Jelušič (SD), defence minister in Pahor’s government (the one between both Janša’s tenures, to refresh your memory), said that annulling the contract was a good idea. However, while in office, she was adamant about not annulling the contract, which puts her in a rather awkward position and somehow makes Janša look like a person who can make decisions as opposed to Borut Pahor, who, well, couldn’t.

And this is the crux of the matter. It was Janša and his government who OKd a deal that was fishy from the start and where handsome bribes were allegedly paid. The deal had and anti-corruption clause built-in and PM Pahor had both grounds and ample time to either sue for annulment of reach settlement with Patria. Apparently, it wasn’t that hard.

Truth be told, not everyone is happy about it. Especially NATO is apparently cross with us now, because Slovenia gave a commitment to form a mid-size armoured brigade some time soon. This will not happen now. And it was probably this why then-PM Pahor couldn’t bring himself to kill the deal. His incessant need to be liked by everybody and his brother once again worked against him. The deal was stalled as it was and it was clear that it will not be going anywhere but while Slovenia had the brigade at least on paper, Pahor got the attaboy treatment in Brussels. Which is fine and dandy. The problem is that he probably knew back then this country wasn’t going to deliver. But he chose to dodge the issue rather than tackle it. Which is probably why he’s running for president now (but more on that some other day).

Janša on the other hand cares jack shit about such things. He killed the deal as soon as he got the chance, making his domestic position a little bit more stronger. Which seems to have been his modus operandi ever since he came to power seven months ago. Mostly by trying to keep coalition partners in line with various doomsday scenarios. Even if it means losing whatever credibility this country has left with foreign investors.

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Patria Case: The Austrian Connection

It’s been a while since pengovsky wrote up anything substantial on the Patria Affair, so a quick recap is in order. Not that there was nothing to write about, but with the family code, early elections brouhaha, the ruling coalition acting like a leper and literally falling apart, the Slovenian political landscape is in daily upheaval and it is hard to keep you posted on everything at the same time. Add to that the noticeable drop in frequency of pengovsky’s posts (things to see and people to do) and you can see the backlog just piling up.

Photoshop by yours truly. With appologies to Gene Hackman 🙂

But be that as it may, the Patria Affair is once again front-and-centre of the agenda. That leader of the opposition Janez Janša was indicted in front of Slovenian court along with four others is of course hardly news. What is news that several related cases are running paralel to that and since Janša trial is yet to begin, those cases are often interpreted as tell- tale signs.

Point Janša

The first Patria-connected case to have seen a verdict was the trial of Karl ‘Teflon’ Erjavec. Leader of DeSUS and defence minister in Janša’s government was together with general Albin Gutman (then Chief of General Staff) accused of dereliction of duty for signing the defence contract with Finnish Patria where bribes were allegedly paid off. The prosecution case was argued by Branka Zobec Hrastar who also leads the case against Janša so the verdict in the Erjavec/Gutman trial was of double interest. As you probably know, the prosecution lost and both Erjavec and Gutman were acquitted. This was seen as a major blow to the case against Janša. If the two were to be found guilty, then – goes the conventional wisdom – winning against Janša should be a walk in the park.

Technically, it’s not all that easy, but still. It looked like back to square one and then some for Higher State Prosecutor Branka Zobec Hrastar. As far back as October 2010 Zobec Hrastar was a subject of internal oversight ordered by (now former) General State Prosecutor Barbara Brezigar. Then, a couple of months after she lost the Erjavec/Gutman case, Janez Janša filed criminal charges against Zobec Hrastar, accusing her of falsifying key evidence in the Patria case. Some saw this as a desperate move (along the lines of counter-suit) but in the light of the Erjavec/Gutman verdict, it spelled bad news for the prosecution. A month after that (July 2011) Janša won a civil suit against Delo newspaper and got EUR 10,000 in damages. And two days later, Zobec Hrastar announced she is quitting her post. It looked like “point Janša”.

However, things are not all that rosy for the presumptive successor to PM Borut Pahor. He may have won a suit against Delo, but the paper is appealing so that story is far from over. The Erjavec/Gutman case is also not over yet, since Zober Hrastar appealed that particular verdict. But the fun was only benning.

The Austrian Connection

Days ago, the Austrian State Prosecution indicted several people with regard to their end of the Patria Case. Notably, among the accused are Walter Wolf and Wolfgang Riedl, whom Slovenian prosecution believes to have played middlemen between Patria and Janez Janša and his party (with several more people in between). Among witnesses whose testimony Austrian prosecutors will seek are also Janša and Jože Zagožen (thought to be Janša’s right hand man at the time), both of whom stand accused by Slovenian prosecution in front of Slovenian court.

The Austrian indictment is interesting because is fills in the blanks from its Slovenian counterpart (while the prosecution in Finland still has to file charges). Namely, Slovenian prosecutors claim Janša and the rest of the accused demanded and accepted bribes in various forms in return for a favourable result on the defence contract for APCs. What remained unclear was where, when and how the alleged bribes were paid. Janša and his SDS exploited this over and over, saying that prosecution’s claims of bribes being paid “on an unidentified date, in an unidentified manner on an unidentified place” didn’t amount to basically anything.

However, the Austrian prosecution now claims that monies (EUR 900,000 to be exact) were handed over in cash to Jože Zagožen by Wolfgang Riedl. Which, if proven to be true, could present a huge problem for Janša, both legally as well as politically. 900 big ones being accepted by a man from Janša’s inner circle is bad news no matter how you look at it and the illustrious SDS leader could very well be forced to feed Zagožen to the prosecution. If allegations turn out to be true, of course.

Hot long summer

Details of the Austrian indictment are being serialised by Delo newspaper (with a certain gusto, one might add). But other than fighting their own fight against Janša, these articles are purely for entertainment purposes as they can neither be used as evidence nor can it influence the final outcome of the trial. Truth be told, it can influence the “court of public opinion” but it seems the public opinion is long divided and cannot be budget either way. So, everyone and his brother is eagerly awaiting beginning of September when the trial against Janez Janša is set to begin.

Now, lets pause here for a second. Janša will be tried in Slovenia. He will be asked to give evidence in Austria. He will also be increasingly getting ready for the elections the polls suggest he will win. This is an explosive combination, no matter how you look at it. A presumptive PM on trial spells big fat headlines at home and abroad. In this case the timing of the whole thing is incredibly important. If the elections are held before the verdict is pronounced in his trial, then Slovenia will be faced with a unique situation of having elected a PM while he will still be tried. Temptations for all kinds of Berlusconi-like tricks to win the “get-out-of-jail-free-card” will probably be coming in fast and furious.

Conspiracy theory

On the other hand, if the trial were to conclude before the elections, the possibility of Janša being convicted is the element of unknown which can turn everything around. Obviously there’s no way to say how the trial will end (and the presumption of innocence stands, mind you), but if you want an outlandish conspiracy theory, then one could argue that the only reason the incumbent PM Borut Pahor is bending over backwards to prevent early elections is to see the Patria trial conclude first and hope for Janša to get convicted.

There are a number of loose ends in this theory (not in the least that it doesn’t explain why Janša doesn’t want early elections and that the losing side in the trial will most likely appeal the verdict, extending the trial way beyond elections), but it is an entertaining thought. What is even more entertaining is the fact that rumours have it that prosecutor Branka Zobec Hrastar might reconsider her resignation. Pengovsky has it on good authority that she had made up her mind to quit late last year, when the onslaught by Barbara Brezigar against her was reportedly in full swing, but only days ago the prosecution threw out Janša’s charges against Zober Hrastar.

Anyhoo. Given the information available, pengovsky has a feeling the case against Janša is rather flimsy. However, there’s always a chance of someone blowing the whistle. And provided there’s something to blow whistle about, Zagožen seems a likely candidate…

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A Day Late And A Dollar Short

Hollywood is laden with epic “I quit” scenes, with pengovsky’s favourite still being the one in The American Beauty. But the cesspool that is the Slovenian political landscape can occasionally offer a gem or two regarding the style in which someone tells someone else to “take this job and… fill it!”, to put in the words of Abe Simpson

Gregor Golobič and Zares exit the coalition (original image here)

A moment like this occurred yesterday when Zares of Gregor Golobič officially quit the ruling coalition, leaving PM Borut Pahor to his own devices, with LDS leader Katarina Kresal by his side (for the moment, at least). Ever since Zares issued what for all intents and purposes was an ultimatum for a radical cabinet reshuffle, lest the party quits the coalition toute-de-suite, the PM either did not understand the message or thought Golobič was bluffing and did nothing which lead the three remaining minsiters of Zares to quit their posts. Thus Darja Radić, Majda Širca and Irma Pavlinič Krebs followed the example of Gregor Golobič who resigned his ministerial post on the eve of the super-referendum Sunday.

The Letter

To top it off – and probably to make sure that there is no doubt about who if the dumper and who the dumpee in this case – Golobič sent a rather longish letter to Pahor and Kresal, outlining the reasons for Zares taking the plunge. He puts the blame squarely on the PM, accusing him of being unable to rein in special interests and bad practices which this government promised to uproot but failed to do so, thus (says Golobič) affirming and continuing misdeeds of the government of Janez Janša. He specifically cites cases of Patria APCs (Janša in scheduled to stand trial over allegations of bribery and abuse of power over that one) where the government failed to take decisive action. Ditto for the case of Šoštanj coal power plant where the stand-off between Zares and Social Democrats was further complicated by a conflict between local and national interests and which caused a lot of bad blood within Zares as well, provoking open confrontation between Golobič on one side and Matej Lahovnik (former minister of economy) and Cveta Zalokar Oražem (former MP for the party) on the other. Neither Lahovnik nor Zalokar Oražem are party members any longer. And although he doesn’t mention it specifically, the list could be expanded to include the LDS-led fiasco with Draško Veselinovič as the CEO of Nova Ljubljanska Banka, where Katarina Kresal imposed Veselinovič as her man at the helm of Slovenia’s biggest (and state-owned bank) only to see him forced to quit over extending the credit line to Boško Šrot in his failed attempt to take over Laško Brewery (Šrot is standing trial for that one as well).

In other words, the list of grievances is long and distinguished. What is not explicitly mentioned (but is sort of a public secret around here) is the fact that Social Democrats often hijacked Zares’ initiatives, saying that they will gain support in the parliament only if SD is the one who officially introduces them and (by extension) takes the credit. But the real bomb-shell comes in the second part of the letter (Slovene only):

Instead of elementary decisiveness and responsiblity in taking the decisions necessary to ensure the well-being of the country and its citizens and looking for actual not just PR effects, we are increasingly faced with a hyper-production of senseless buzzwords about radars, trains, convoys, ships, throwing in towels and so on, all of which only goes to prove that this particular line of politics has emptied itself and is completely void of ideas.

Golobič then goes on to add

Rejection of our call to reshuffle the cabinet by the PM and leader of the Social Democrats was in our view a short-sighted move, one which opens the door wide open for ascent of the transition right wing with all its properties and effects. We will take no part in this. We do recognise our share of responsibility for the duration of our time in the government. However in the case of scenario which is (knowingly or not) unfolding, we will do no such thing.

In other words, Golobič is saying that Pahor fucked up royally, squandered the chance to make a difference and gave us PR fluff instead, thus rehabilitating the ways of Janez Janša who is already considered the new PM-apparent. Truth be told, Golobič on some other occasions gave credit where credit was due, especially in the case of the Arbitration Agreement and subsequent revolutionary thawing of relations with Croatia, but in terms of internal politics, the letter was about as strong a condemnation as they come.

Pengovsky believes that Golobič might be slightly off as far as ushering in Janša is concerned, but Pahor can take zero credit for that one. The leader of the SDS has crediblity problems of his own, including but not limited to Patria case, fake-grass-roots initiatives to call early election and – curiously enough – strange use of his Twitter account (where pengovsky even played an small and insignificant role).

Barely functioning government

Anyways: as a result, the ruling coalition barely deserves its adjective. The government has only thirty-three votes in a ninety-seat parliament, which makes it practically impossible to govern as the balance of power is now almost completely shifted towards the parliament. There is a gap twelve votes wide and bridging even once would be a political and logistical nightmare. Doing it on a per-vote basis is practically impossible. The government is bleeding as it is and pulling off a stunt like this (and doing it repeatedly) would require inhumane quantities of strength, politicking, horse-dealing and manhandling. It simply can not be done.

Even more so. With four ministers gone, the government is on the verge of being legally defunct. Namely, the Law on government specifies (Article 11) that the government is considered fully empowered if at least two thirds of ministers are appointed (ministers without portfolio notwithstanding). Since there are fifteen full-blooded ministries in this government, Pahor’s government is only two ministers short of being found operationally incapacitated. True, he can temporarily overcome this by assigning a sitting minister to take over another portfolio for a period of no more than six months, but this provision was meant to speed up the formation of the government, not extend the life of a nearly defunct one.

A day late and a dollar short

To put it graphically: when Golobič quit his post of science and higher education minister, PM Pahor entrusted the minister of (primary and secondary) education and sports Igor Lukšič (SD) to take over. He is reportedly poised to take over the ministry of culture as well, while minister of development and European affairs Mitja Gaspari (SD) is rumoured to stand in for Darja Radić in the economy portfolio. By that same token Aleš Zalar (LDS) is rumoured to take over Public Administration ran by Pavlinič Krebs. Given that minister without portfolio tasked with relations with diaspora Boštjan Žekš is already standing in for Henrik Gjerkeš, who was minister without portfolio tasked with local self-government until he quit for driving under the influence, you can see, that this is not even funny any more. Instead it’s bordering on ludicrous. That the government is mulling a reorganisation of the ministries, reducing them in number is just another case of PR spin and alleviating the symptoms rather then administering the cure.

In what is a glimmer of hope, reality seems finally to have caught up with PM Pahor as well, although he came a day late and a dollar short. Word on the street has it that he realised the gravity of the situation just prior to the official celebration of the Statehood Day Friday last and nearly had a melt-down. Whether that is true or not is basically beside the point but it is telling that it was Katarina Kresal who gave the initial reaction to Zares walking out yesterday and that the PM was seen only later in the evening at another official function where he gave a relatively impassioned speech. He is, however, expected to make an announcement regarding the new political reality in the next day or so.

What is this? Afghanistan?!

However, that the leader of the remaining junior coalition party said yesterday was also a relatively ill-conceived attempt at calming an explosive situation. Namely, Katarina Kresal more or less said that what is left of the government will first pick up the pieces, try to pass the remainder of planned legislation and then (this is the important part) work for an orderly transition to early elections, adding that they can’t just drop everything and walk out thus implicitly accusing Zares of doing precisely that. All fine and dandy, it sure as hell ain’t nice being dumped when you’re down and out although – mind you – it is entirely unclear what this will do to Zares’ ratings which leave a lot to be desired as it is.

But the bit about “orderly transition towards early elections” is just plain nonsense (and I’m being kind here, because I kind of like KK). What is this? Iraq? Lybia? Af-fucking-ghanistan?!? Slovenia has no need for “orderly transition” of any kind because save political hard-headedness of the current PM there is nothing that is out of order. Even more so: the constitution clearly provides for exactly these kinds of situation so there is no need to “work towards” anything. The scenario is very simple. If the government falls one way or the other, the sitting ministers and the PM continue in a caretaker role until a new cabinet is appointed. This applies even if the entire cabinet resigns tomorrow. Implying that the world will end if they all just let go is misleading at best. Doubly so since the government is barely functioning as it is.

Calls for early elections are mounting although few of them are genuine. It is a failure by the PM not to be able to tell those which were fake from those which weren’t. The one made by Zares was – well – meant for real.


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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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