Tough Driver for a Rocky Road
When Janez Janša found out about the election result, he was quick to comment that the result does not reflect the reason for the snap elections.
In other words – the people have made the wrong decision. Nonetheless, through circumstances and his own smart play, Janša has managed to secure himself a second spell as prime minister. It seemed to take took a while but in fact it was checkmate in two moves.
Janković might have won the hearts of voters, but he was completely unprepared for his fellow politicians. His attempt to form a government was a failure due to his bossy approach to parliament. People in the temple of Slovenian democracy were not ready to automatically treat him with the same respect and loyalty he commands from those in Ljubljana City Council. Also, the small centrist parties, DeSUS and Virant list – who suddenly became the kingmakers – initially set themselves a very high price and then called off the deal. After that, opinion polls indicated that Janković had gained even more sympathy from the people, while the popularity of the two parties who left him out in the cold fell so low their chances of getting into parliament were seriously compromised in the event of the elections being repeated. Janša therefore took advantage of the January sales of these parties’ support and got them into his pocket at a discounted price. Unlike the failed parliamentary newcomer, this new-old prime minister – who has experienced the whole of Slovenian political history – had little trouble finding the right tune to get the coalition of 51 MPs dancing.
The only remaining question now is whether the MPs have really chosen someone with the wisdom to fulfil the promise of economic reforms without involving issues of ideology.
Janša can act as a firm and determined leader who doesn’t need diplomacy to hold together the government. He enters the game with huge political capital and a solid degree of real power and awe, sitting firmly atop the hierarchy he has created. None of this could be said for his predecessor Borut Pahor. Besides, Janša seems to believe is he someone who has been irreplaceably appointed by destiny. Both Pahor and Janković, on the other hand, have been offered to left-leaning voters merely as the momentarily available choice, a replacement of someone like the legendary Janez Drnovšek.
The logic of voting “anyone but Janša” mainly has its roots in Janša’s personality (cult) and the fear of his dark side. It’s safe to say that many of his supporters are motivated more by his blood and soil sentiments than by his policies. Also his cold, seemingly rational appearance hides a rather paranoid defence expert whose mind tends to get stuck in the conflict of 1991. Despite his recent campaign explicitly stating otherwise, experience tells us that fears of political staffing and interfering with the judiciary system and the media are far from unjustified with Janša in power.
Tweaking investment and business conditions was the top priority in all parties’ 2011 election campaigns. Now these intentions finally have a flavour. If the coalition programme gets into full swing, we are facing a wave of privatisations, cost-cutting and public finances consolidation. The first shocks have already come with the idea of optimising the state institution, which aims to shut down or merge numerous ministries, the cultural among others.
Reflecting on his previous term, Janša’s biggest problem is that we do not live in 2007 anymore, when Euro adoption and the expanding economy contributed to a record-breaking 6.1 percent GDP growth – something which he kept presenting as the exclusive magic of his leadership.
In any case, the desperate standstill we have been experiencing for months is over. Some took it with excitement, others with resignation, but for everyone, there’s a rough ride ahead. Unfortunately, this seems to be the only road towards a stable and prosperous economy – something which, at the moment, we’re a long way from.
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