Another easily spotted anomaly of Slovenian politics. As many of the readers will know, Slovenia takes over the rotating presidency of the EU in January 2008. Besides the panic that this generates in the large part of the governing structures and public administration, this also has a strange effect on the overall political climate in the country. The last brilliant example of how far this can bring us is a recently suggested and negotiated â€œagreement of cooperationâ€? for the period during the Presidency (see coverage in Dnevnik here).
Letâ€™s get it right for once that EU politics should be normal as much as national politics are. People fight, parties fight, people lose, parties lose, some win. So, yes, having opposition during the Presidency is normal. In a politically very clever move, the Slovenian government managed to convince almost all the oposition, including the Social Democrats to agree on not attacking the government during the 6-months period.
Hear what Pahor, the not-yet-official-presidential candidate and president of the Social Democrats said (literal translation):
â€œIt would not be appropriate to impeach the Foreign Minister during the Presidency. But we could always impeach any other Minister for serious mistakes.â€?
So, you demand responsibility to some, but not others. You claim that some politicians are untouchable for a certain period. To me it sounds almost like Slovenia would go to war for six months, and opposition would have no role. According to the distribution of work during the Presidency the Foreign Minister (Dimitrij Rupel in our case) will be in the spotlight and also have the responsibility to manage most of the issues within his Ministry. How serious are we really, if we cannot criticize his work?
Only the LDS in process of dissolution had enough conviction to say no, for a simple reason: EU politics are domestic politics, so impeachements and criticisms are allowed anytime. Quite fair.
Anyway, the agreement will be signed, the government will be happy and Pahor will win some further points. But perhaps lose some needed distance from the governing right-wing coalition.
5 thoughts on “Left-to-right in Slovenian politics : everyone is friends when EU comes around?”
You are totally right, this is ridiculous. Sadly enough, it is not just the case in Slovenia and not only during the EU presidency of a country – even if other states do not make this strange political ceasefire with regards to European topic so explicite like Slovenian politicians.
I am just about to finish a paper on the “European public sphere” and this is one of the few things where everyone from Habermas to CEPS agrees on: If the EU ever wants to overcome its infamous “democratic deficite”, there is no other way but a contestation of European issues, a politicisation of the debate where policy alternatives are publicly discussed – instead of presenting everything that comes from Brussels as a kind of “divine intervention”.
Nice blog, b.t.w. – go on!
Yes, indeed. The good side of it, that you never know how much would such an agreement even hold…We’re not Italy, but we border on it, so some specifics of its political culture have spilled over.
The 3rd option is what Singapure did to few Liberal MEPs recently (see BBC coverage). When on a visit there they were not allowed to hold public speeches. See the comment from the Singapore’s Ministry of Home Affairs:
Well, almost anything is better than the totaly unconstructive “zero tolerance” approach of the Czech opposition since 2005 (meanwhile the opposition and the government have swapped the roles). It does the image of politics no good when seriously ill (or indeed injured) MPs have to be taken to the chamber by an ambulance for an important vote…