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Sunday, May 28, 2023

Delinquent MPs or political nomads and penalty box

By: dr. Vinko Gorenak

These days, the transfers of MPs are echoing in the National Assembly again, as if they were some kind of changes in football. Four MPs, Janja Sluga, Igor Zorčič, Branislav Rajić and Jurij Lep, formed a group of unaffiliated MPs. In the history of our parliamentarism, of course, this is nothing special, it has happened in practically every mandate. So it is not just about the transfer of individual MPs from party to party, usually at the same political pole, it is about something more, i.e. the formation of a group of unaffiliated MPs, which often forms into a new political party at least in the next elections.

I call such delinquents political nomads. Nomads are people who do not have a permanent residence but move from place to place mostly for food and survival. Nomads, in Greek “nomás”, means a place to graze. Well, political nomads are also about something similar, usually they are looking for a better place to “graze”. In Slovenia, political nomads can thrive solely because of significant media support, elsewhere voters would have sent them to the dustbin of history long ago. In political nomadism of the modern Slovene type it is also possible to constantly cheat and deceive voters due to the tested poor electoral system, regardless of the fact that elections are held democratically.

Let’s look at some examples from recent parliamentary practice. After the electoral defeat in 2004, the former almighty LDS party began to fall apart, and its hard core founded ZARES, and former important LDS MPs, led by Gregor Golobič, moved to ZARES. In 2011, Janković’s PS was quickly formed, and its founders included SD MPs, DESUS MPs as well as ZARES MPs. Among them, let me mention only a few, such as Renata Brunskole (SD), Matjaž Zanoškar (DESUS), and Alojz Potočnik (ZARES). In 2013, the then almighty Jankovič’s PS split into two parts and half of the MPs peacefully moved to the SAB. The almighty SMC party in 2014 did not have MPs who were previously MPs from other political parties, but it did have MPs who had previously run on the lists of other political parties, the left political pole. Something similar happened in 2018 with LMŠ party. I do not even remember all the individual political nomads in the last ten or more years, but there were a lot of them. The most famous among them is Jani Möderndorfer, who has embarked on a political nomadic path so many times and replaced so many political parties that he probably does not even know in how many political parties he was.

And what does this kind of political nomadism in its essence, at least indirectly, tell us? In particular, the fact that voters in elections do not, as a rule, punish political nomads, even in the case of transfers between political parties with a completely different programme. As an MP myself, I have never thought about political nomadism. There were always two reasons for this. The first reason was my voters, who I would actually deceive with such an act. And the second reason was the fact that I would not be able to convincingly defend different political views and values.

Finally, let us return to the latest four political nomads mentioned in the introduction. Of course, there is a possibility that they will be politically parked among the candidates for MPs of any political party on the left political pole, but all indications are that they do not want the majority there, and especially not in the so-called electoral seats. There is also the possibility that they will form a new left wing political party, which would not be a bad thing at all, as the left wing political space would be even more fragmented. Today, for the first time, something has happened that has never happened before. The board of the President of the National Assembly decided in full accordance with the Rules of Procedure that they will not be members of working bodies. In LMŠ, SD, LEVICA and SAB they are on their feet, threatening with a kind of boycott, I do not know what they mean by that. For them Zorčič, Sluga and Rajić were traitors last year, and today they are being forged into stars. I wonder why? The fact that they will not be members of working bodies with the right to vote, but will be able to discuss, is a kind of punishment for them, but a mild punishment. Many democracies around the world are familiar with the so-called penalty box for political nomads, where political nomads sit.

Dr Vinko Gorenak is a State Secretary in the PV Cabinet, a former Member of Parliament and Minister of the Interior, a university professor and a member of the SDS.


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