By: Dr Andreja Valič Zver
The signs of the times are merciless. And you have to know how to read them. They are often revealed through humour, which is performed especially by media-exposed and established humourists. In politics, understanding signals is even more important. But how could we expect knowledge and mastery of the political craft from “naturists” who only yesterday were holding official and other benches and doing everything else that is required of an MP, minister, secretary of state, not to mention the Prime Minister. Despite the multitude of PR people and support services, at the end of the day, the politician is completely alone on stage in front of the public, and that is when his personality, knowledge, vision, and values come into force. God have mercy if it turns out that we are facing an “empty nothing” and that we are dealing with the “emperor’s new clothes”.
I am afraid that this is exactly what is happening to the Slovenian nation, which once again bought a cat in a bag – actually a “pigeon on the roof” – in the elections. Day by day we realise that the so-called reform government, which triumphantly entered its mandate almost a year ago and promised reforms, is actually an empty nothing. I will not list all the fiascos that are happening in front of everyone. There is no end to the weirdness. The interview of the first man in the country with his partner in the premises of the government cabinet is at least worthy of ridicule, but this is not the central problem of our Slovenia. The way things are going in the economy, healthcare, education, foreign policy, culture, and other areas under this government team, they are leading us “back to the future”, to Venezuela-style socialism. But who – except the profiteers of the deep state – in their right mind would want to go there?
April started with April Fools’ Day. April Fool’s Day is a world day of foolery, laughter, humour, pranks. Laughter is good for health, but Slovenians have not had a healthy laugh for a long time when it comes to political matters. Even satirical shows such as the “eternal” Radio Ga Ga and Artač’s Kaj dogaja more often than not give us bitter smiles. Humour has always been a valve for the people, even in totalitarian systems. The authorities sometimes even encouraged it, mostly controlled it, and often punished it. We only remember Tof and Šraufciger’s unsavoury jokes, Ježek’s deep melancholy and others. In Kranj, a local prankster was even “preventively” imprisoned before Tito’s arrival at the mountain estate, so that he would not spoil the marshal’s hunting vacation.
But today are different times. Today, “freedom” rules. Unsolicited jokes are written on their own in Slovenia. Whatever we think of Tilen Artač’s imitations of Golob, he must be acknowledged for his excellent impersonation and insight. A few days ago, on a radio show, he resolutely asserted as a “pigeon”, that his government has not succeeded in any reform, but that he still works for people who do not want reforms. That is why he surrendered to “love”. Apparently, the dance era is over.
The inverted logic that is characteristic of situational humour was also expressed in the performance of Minister Ajanović Hovnik in the Tarča show. With a cynical smile, she repeated populistically that the government is making reforms for the people. For whom else?
So, on the one hand we have a simulated situation, on the other a real one. Both tell us the same thing: There are reforms. Nobody wants them. No one has seen them before. The main message is that the current rulers are incompetent. The virtual Prime Minister “pigeon” even admits this himself, while the ruling team does not, but proves it on a daily basis.
The power of humour is also great in politics. Messages that seem funny at first can be very serious. As in our case, when one of the dominant media, which we call RTV, informs the Slovenian public through the genre of humour that the current Prime Minister has expired and that it is time for something “fresh”.