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sobota, 28 maja, 2022

Slovenian political dovecote: a double tribute to political cyclists

By: Gašper Blažič

Last year, when three proud successors of the League of Communists, led by Tanja Fajon, paid tribute to the communist revolutionary Boris Kidrič, I somehow connected this event with politically motivated cycling in the centre of Ljubljana. Namely, it was Kidrič who introduced the term “cyclists” into political discourse. These were the partisans who bent their backs and pressed down.

I came across this term in the book “Political cyclists write anonymous letters”, which was published in 2000, at the very beginning of my journalistic career. The book was prepared and published by the recently deceased Kočevje publicist, amateur historian, and music pedagogue Ive A. Stanič, whom I also met personally that year (unfortunately I do not remember exactly where it was). Writing anonymous letters with vulgar, insulting and even threatening content was already a Slovenian national sport at that time. In the same year, Marija Vodišek, a colleague of Demokracija (and now deceased), drew attention to this phenomenon, reminding that in France such writers are called “ravens”. Nevertheless, Kidrič’s vision of “cyclists” is a bit more familiar to me, after all, it was Jaša Jenull who vividly put it into practice with his “political cyclists”. But this is, of course, only the tip of the iceberg of all political events.

A day of the most beautiful dreams for Kučan?

Monday, January 24th, 2022, will surely go down in history as the day of the greatest political bizarreness of the year, which has barely got off to a good start. On this day, Dr Robert Golob announced his return to where he had been all along, namely in politics. The former high-ranking official of Positive Slovenia and the SaB, as well as many other parties, has now announced nothing less than a hostile takeover (in a gentlemanly way) of the party, which was recently set up by “modeler” Jure Leben. What does this remind us of? Namely, the local structure of the party, which was later renamed Miro Cerar’s Party, was first set up by Peter Jamnikar, after which it was snatched from his hands by people from the circle of Gregor Golobič, his old LDS opponent.

And what followed? All four KUL party leaders immediately paid their respects to Golob, who themselves are damn well aware that it is over with them and their parties if they do not cooperate with the new messianic chosen one of Milan Kučan. So where is all that strong KUL confidence they radiated until recently? After all, Tanja Fajon has almost seen herself in the role of Prime Minister, but now that the traditional pre-election ceremony for the enthronement of the new “messiah” is being repeated, she will obviously be satisfied with the fact that she will be allowed to be a minister in the new Golob’s government. Many members of the KUL parties, who posted ridiculous photos of Robert Golob on social networks yesterday, are already retouching and deleting their posts today because they “received instructions” in the meantime.

And this is where the weakness of the KUL parties is most evident, because, with their otherwise anti-Janšism resentment, supported by various media and non-governmental organisations, they bow without hesitation to someone who has not even written a political programme. Well, to be honest, Dr Miro Cerar also did not have a programme, but with his demagoguery about ethics he was attractive enough to become a disposable messiah. However, the old mantra is clearly continuing: it is enough for the programme to be an opponent of Janez Janša, as Father Branko Cestnik recently pointed out on Ognjišče radio. And obviously this time too the strategists of the transitional left hope that the voters will “fall into the trap” with this indecent offer and pay tribute to the great saviour of Slovenia, who went from the electricity trade (after all, our only nuclear power plant produces the most) to the ecological party, which opposes nuclear energy.

The battle is not won yet

Of course, this does not mean that success is guaranteed in advance for Dr Robert Golob. Namely, Golob has quite a few problems. The first is his outrageously high salary, which he had as CEO of GEN-I. For most Slovenes, this is not exactly a trait that would make them adore him. Unless the strategists of Golob’s political image succeed in convincing the public that Golob has no intention of benefiting because he is well enough supplied now. In fact, he is now moving from a very well-paid position to a political menagerie, where earnings are, realistically speaking, lower. And this is where we can ask ourselves whether Golob went among the gladiators voluntarily or whether his godparents set a gun to his head from behind: if you do not obey us, you will have to return the money you stole from GEN-I.

Probably, however, those who deal with the psychological control of the masses are counting on the fact that the most exposed members of the parties that now form the government will come to Golob. Here they are counting mainly on the SDS. Of course, we can hope that the latter will not fall for this invitation – we know from experience that the provoked negative propaganda against such messiahs triggered a butterfly effect in the electoral pool, mobilised many voters not only left but also such “non-bloc alternatives”, and on the other hand, it lulled potential right-wing voters to sleep. This time things are a bit different, as the chances of possible public quarrels between the current coalition parties are much less than before, a joint initiative of smaller parties has come to light, and there are considerable disputes in the camp of the transitional left. Thus, the Levica Party is left without Violeta Tomić, while MPs Franc Trček and Željko Cigler had already crossed from the SD. In the rather wide range of “anti-Janša” offers, there are many different and conflicting interests, which were strongly demonstrated two years ago, when the then Prime Minister Marjan Šarec announced his throwing in the towel. Of course, the stakeholders of his coalition did not count on preliminary elections (and even if they did, devastatingly bad relations between the coalition parties would bring great catastrophe to the transitional left). The period of the third Janša government in some ways made it easier for them to strengthen their alliances with some civil society entities (March 8th Institute, Voice of the People, etc.), but now their main problem will be internal discord. The announcement of Golob’s engagement will most likely trigger the expulsion of LMŠ and SAB from parliament, as well as the weakening of the Levica and SD, where the potential for recognition of the otherwise vocal Tanja Fajon has fallen by more than half.

Is it worth the risk of voting for “new faces”?

Of course, that is not all. Let us remember that, in fact, there has been talk for two years about a possible new “messiah”. First it was Ivan Gale, then Aleksander Čeferin. Golob entered the game only when it became clear that he would not automatically get a new term as GEN-I CEO and was supposed to be a victim of political purges (if you believe that). And now? The Slovenian public already has quite a bit of experience with such pre-election projects of the so-called new faces. Is it worth taking a risk with them and stepping into an uncertain future? Is it worth taking a risk with someone who, like Zoran Janković, is a representative of the tycoon alliance and thus embarrasses many leftists? For “cyclists”, the task will be even more difficult, because ordinary people now have the whole picture of the last term of office in front of them, both with Šarec and Janša. And they can compare. And they observe a conflicting opposition, which can only build its programme “ad personam”. Because its programme is based on bows. Both to Kidrič and Golob.

Gašper Blažič is a journalist for Demokracija, editor of its daily board and editor of the Blagovest.si portal.

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