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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Meritocracy tailored for the libertarian Golob’s Coalition

By: Gašper Blažič

The stereotype about democracy is that positions there – even the highest political ones – should be held by those who are most capable and competent in terms of expertise in a particular field. However, this is not the case, because, for example, leading a ministry is primarily a political and not a professional function, for which a higher education degree is not required. In our politics, for example, an unwritten rule has been established that the presidents of coalition parties are also members of the government (although this is not legally binding, it is desirable). Nevertheless, successful management of a department is contingent upon personal competencies, the ability to lead operationally, and at least partial knowledge of the field covered by the department.

The fact is that the highest political positions bring with them numerous risks because they have significant influence. Merely by their form, they give the individual power and authority, as well as legal and moral responsibility. Therefore, the greatest danger lies in someone obtaining a position based on past merits, which is absurd. In this way, only honorary positions that do not require operational abilities are conferred. Many will remember how many individuals in the past were rewarded with high positions due to their past merits. For example, in the Cerar government, Goran Klemenčič became Minister of Justice, previously the President of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, known for his daring report that was supposed to “expose” both Janez Janša and Zoran Janković – but practically the only impact of the report was the adoption of a constructive vote of no confidence against the (second) Janša government. When the report was later judicially annulled, it was already too late, the consequences could not be undone. The perpetrator, however, was rewarded with a ministerial position.

Perhaps someone will recall the political situation in Slovenia twenty years ago. At that time, the Assembly for the Republic first appeared in public (and with great pomp), then-Prime Minister Anton Rop expelled the Slovenian People’s Party (SLS) from the coalition, and Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel from the government. The nervousness within the government ranks was so severe that its main propagandists resorted to sometimes even tragicomic statements. For example, claiming that Slovenia has very few people suitable for leadership positions – “enough for one government team and a half”. Well, Prof. Dr Tomaž Deželan (Faculty of Social Sciences) reduced that number even further after the last parliamentary elections: there are capable people only for one government, precisely the one we got after the 2022 elections. Now, if we look after two years at where the current government has led us and how many personnel Prime Minister Golob has already “thrown overboard”, we can start asking where those fifteen capable individuals who would lead the ministries are now. If we add the now epic nickname of former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec as the “Luka Dončić of Slovenian politics”, the question becomes even more pressing.

It is understandable that public opinion in the summer of 2022 was strongly anticipating that the new government team would finally “put Slovenia in order”. Therefore, the public support for Golob’s government was high at that time because people lived in idealism. Robert Golob initially seemed like the coach of the US basketball team, who, for example, selected the twelve best among a thousand basketball players from the NBA league for the World Basketball Championship. However, sobriety was coming slowly, so many do not even realise how far we have slipped in two years. But the challenges and problems with the Svoboda party’s list for European elections should have been a strong enough lesson for the public on what it is like to be on a team where merits and demerits count. And where the government is led by behind-the-scenes figures. The latest to be (due to Tina Gaber) thrown over Golob’s shoulder was Aleksander Merlo. He did not justify his merits for personal projects of members of Golob’s inner circle. In any case, the complexity of the economic and social situation in Slovenia and beyond had already exceeded the capabilities of Golob’s “dream team” from the very beginning. And this gap is only widening.

Such a situation can easily be linked to the well-known satirical poem by Janez Menart from 1960, where the poet wrote, among other things, that “the position, acquired at the auction of jobs, began to demand brains over the years, but he only has them for emergencies”. Let anyone say that a member of the famous post-war quartet of poets, who published a joint collection, did not have a sense of predicting the future. But in the year when the collection with this poem was published, Golob had not even been born yet…

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