Slovenia: We like them, but we don’t like them

There are many interesting confrontations happening in Slovenian politics at this stage. The independent parliamentarians (mostly from the newly founded association Zares) obstructed the work of the Parliament for few days, the scandal over the mishandling of SOVA (intelligence agency) funds, the supposedly unknown planning of gas-terminals in the port of Koper… Almost as something would be cooking , before we enter the lazy summer months. Anyway, my interest stays with the relation Pahor – Janša i.e. Social Democrats – governing coalition.

Marko Pavliha, now already former Vice-President of the Parliament, was not re-elected. He was VP when member of the Liberal Democrats and then switched to Pahor’s Social Democrats. This week he did not get re-elected as VP when his position was on the vote because of this transfer. His comment: “I knew about this possibility when leaving the Liberals.” Good for him, but obviously the Social Democrats should not be happy about it.

The reaction of Pahor? An interesting Press Release arrived in my inbox on Wednesday 9th of May. Instead of dealing with the issues separately (something that the press service of the SD should learn anyway), it tackled two: non-election of Pavliha and the EU presidency “agreement of cooperation”. About the first, Pahor said something like “We do not ask for anything more than we deserve as a large Parliamentary group. The non-election is a failure of the governing coalition.” About the second, he stated “We want Slovenian to perform as a team during the EU Presidency and will thus sign the agreement.

Mixing two things certainly doesn’t increase the credibility. The non-election of Pavliha obviously is not of the same weight as the whole EU Presidency but the slightly schizophrenic relation of Pahor/SD towards the current government is still an entertaining reading. Why?

Because, and the fact that this statement comes on the 9th of May is purely symbolic, European politics should be demystified – EU politics at the end of the day is a normal business. Sure, for the national electorate slogans like “We have to perform like a team”, “We are team players on the international stage” might bring positive repercussions. But it certainly creates the spirit that Slovenia in fact will be playing against someone once we take over the EU Presidency. Which is not the case.

The EU Presidency is a matter for national governments. It’s an administrational challenge that each government has to organise as best as it can. Can we imagine Labour and the Tories in the UK signing an agreement of cooperation before the EU Presidency? Or Sarkozy and the Socialists in France? Have you heard about something similar from Socrates, the Portuguese Socialist Prime Minister? Nope.

It helps SD in the opinion polls, but creates a distorted image of the EU in Slovenia.

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