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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

The emperor still believes in his new clothes

By: Gašper Blažič

If you have ever wondered what the point of interpellations is, let me say that before Golob’s government – at least according to the list – only three governments were interpellated. Of course, none of these were voted on. In general, only two interpellations have been successful so far in the history of Slovenian parliamentarism, while in some other cases the ministers who were interpellated resigned before the actual vote.

It could be concluded from this that interpellations in themselves are useless since the proposers usually fail with them. That is correct. They can only succeed if, for example, there is a rift within the government coalition because of one minister. This time, however, the interpellation on the work of the government even ended without conclusions (which put the NSi in a bad mood), which should have been submitted by the initiator of the interpellation (i.e., SDS). To put it another way: after 14 hours of debate, the session ended a little after 11 pm yesterday – without a vote.

So, was Parliament wasting its time? Maybe. However, it is necessary to look at the matter from a wider perspective. The ruling coalition has a solid majority with 53 votes (not counting the two national MPs) and the vote alone would not change anything. The interpellation – in this case a vote of no confidence in the government – is voted on if at least 46 MPs vote for it. In theory, at least a few MPs from the coalition parties should be “wrong” when voting in order for the interpellation against the government to succeed.

But there is something else worth noting. Since I myself have been following Slovenian political events for a long enough time, I also often see opposition demands for the convening of emergency sessions of this and that parliamentary working body. Of course, with proposed decisions, which are very rarely voted on. The vast majority of them are run over by the coalition’s voting machine. And that without any great media interest. And of course, did not even the top of Slovenian communists 33 years ago consistently oppose Milošević’s project of introducing a centralised Yugoslavia, where the “one man – one vote” system would apply? Well, in 1988, the socialist delegates in the Slovenian Assembly first raised their hands by a majority in favour of constitutional changes that would make Yugoslavia significantly more centralised – until the Slovenian communist elite felt that such a servile attitude on home soil (with the fact that, just like the Slovene national programme also covered the so-called writer’s constitution with manure) could be very damaging. And in September 1989, it orchestrated the constitutional changes itself – the then constitution of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia.

But this time it was different. The work of Golob’s government was discussed less than a year after the election and only a few days before the anniversary of last year’s elections. The debate in the parliament lasted long enough that we could perceive from its summaries the gap between the promises from last year’s pre-election period and the fruits of governance. The representatives of the government led by Robert Golob presented thing in a favourable light that will reverberate for a long time, for example about how much citizens of Slovenia have gained with the new government compared to the previous one. In the discussion, it was possible to feel great nervousness among the rulers. Not only because of opinion polls, which show the drying up of support, but also because of Pavel Rupar’s recent public confession that pensioners’ protest rallies are mainly attended by those who surrounded the candidates of the Gibanje Svoboda party in the elections last year. That is why the statements coming from the government camp were all the more bizarre.

It is probably no coincidence that at the time of the discussion on the interpellation, there was a meeting organised by the Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence due to the abolition of the Museum of Slovenian Independence (I know, you will say that the museum is not abolished, but only merged, but you will not find the title “independence” anywhere!). Among the participants, I encountered critical opinions, saying that there should be more of us, but the message was nevertheless very clear: Golob’s government is both symbolically and actually returning us to the darkest times of the failed communist Yugoslavia. Not only because of the cancellation of the museum, but also because of “monkey” trips in the style of “non-aligned”, worshiping a terrorist organisation (KPS) in Čebine, financial “fidding” of political elites (both non-governmental organisations and individuals), sliding into a drop in standards, etc. Inflation does not amount to the megalomaniacal thousand percent, as it was in 1989, but the large increase in living costs is still felt on our skin. So is the proliferation of taxes and bureaucracy. If in 1990 at the plebiscite with the independence of Slovenia we also decided on the discontinuity of the political experimentation with “socialism tailored to the people”, Golob’s government with the empty populist formula of “eliminating” supplementary health insurance is literally violently drowning us in the stinking cesspool of “socialism with an animal face”. Did we really fight for that?

In short, the interpellation about the work of the government, as we saw and heard yesterday, was much more useful than meets the eye. The emperor in the image of Robert Golob, who should have admitted his nakedness a long time ago, still believes in his “new clothes”. Or at least he pretends to believe. However, it can be seen that the unbridled arrogance of the rulers has its limits. They are aware that the centre of gravity of the civil rebellion is forming outside the parliament hall. Just these days, Prime Minister Golob promised Pavel Rupar that the Voice of the Pensioners initiative will be able to co-shape legislation concerning pensioners – but for now this is only a promise. This is actually the last chance for Golob. Here it is worth remembering an important difference: if the parliament (national assembly) is a place of division, the new centre of resistance is actually a point of unification, and its main representative is someone who has sunk to the very bottom in life and knows what it means to be someone on the edge of society. And he was able to persuade even those who had been lying to themselves about the emperor’s new clothes. Because the emperor is naked. But the problem is not so much his nakedness, but what prevents our eyes from seeing it.

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