The Slovenia Times

Return of the Avenger



His rhetoric was full of conspiracy theories questioning how some of the main political players, the so-called "reformed communists" retained positions of power throughout the nineties. Adversary number one - Milan Kučan, the chairman of the League of Communists of Slovenia from 1986 to1990 and, from then until 2002, the president of Slovenia. No less sinister - Janez Drnovšek, the president of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia from 1989 to 1990, prime minister of Slovenia from 1992 to 2002 and president of Slovenia since 2002. Both were democratically elected with overwhelming support and the vast majority of these supporters credit them for the independence project as much as for the relatively successful and painless transition that followed. However, some people would rather see them end up like Honnecker or Ceausescu.

Undeniably, his persistent attacks helped Janša climb the slippery pole to the top of the opposition ranks. But being critical was not enough to break the hold the existing powers had on the electorate, until... well, until he abandoned the tactic and replaced it with a trustful support team and, remarkably, some policies. This worked. By 2004, he had convinced the majority of Slovenians that he had what it takes to lead the nation and they put the 12-year-old Liberal Democrat government to the sword.

For almost three years, Janša's cabinet have regaled themselves with various 'advancements' and even the odd historical achievement such as the adoption of the Euro, but they have failed to deliver on many of their pre-electoral promises such as tax reform. They also seemed to have forgotten Newton's Third Law, you know... for every action...

Could this be the reason our valiant Leader and his band of merry men are slowly losing the popularity race and why the good old avenging Janša resurfaced?

From his lofty position in the highest chair in the land, his self confidence seems undiminished as he effortlessly sweeps his foes off the parliamentary floor. But what is happening under the veneer? The Sova affair, a culmination of his power politics, has triggered a flood of personality politics and the "collateral damage" has yet to be assessed. The fragile dam that held the troubled waters at bay began to crack after a period of increasingly bitter and heated conflict with President Drnovšek. However, it wasn't until the former president, Milan Kučan, decided to intervene, that it finely gave way and the previous incarnation of Janša took centre stage. Again the prime minister's attacks went well beyond the events in question and struck deep into the "heroics" of the past. Accusing former president Kučan of acting against the national interests is not a new tactic from Janša; it may have been highly emotive in the past but it lacks real punch nowadays as almost everyone has heard it before and few pay any attention to it. All said and done, no winner emerged from the conflict. Nothing changed, maybe a few staff lost their jobs, but that seems to be an everyday occurrence under this government. No matter whose side you take in this spittle fight, the real loser will be Slovenia if it results in the collapse of the cross-party talks aimed at presenting a unified front during the nation's EU presidency in 2008. It is a worthy initiative and supported by most of the opposition parties. Digging up old dirt at this point won't help this become a reality and displays a surprising lack of long-term political wisdom. The EU presidential period is crucial for both Slovenia and the current government. It might be the last opportunity for our prime minister to restore his reputation and public trust and secure himself another term in next year's elections.

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