Current Affairs Interlude

Lest you forget about why I’m here- no, not to travel, eat, take the FSOT, or even go to school- I will post about politics. Although my research isn’t about current political happenings, I think its important and interesting to observe what’s happening right now, and not let you forget that there is far more to Slovenia then strudel.

The elections were held at the beginning of December. This is how things turned out:

ATMOSPHERE:                                                                                                            Everybody I talk to was apathetic about election, and I’m told that the same old people are running for election, and nothing will change. The one outsider candidate that some people like didn’t seem stand a chance.

RESULTS:                                                                                                                      -The outsider, the left-leaning mayor of Ljubljana, formed his own leftist party, and got a majority of the votes (something like 22%). This put him in place to be Prime Minister. The surprised students party and fireworks go off in Ljubljana. Finally, some new blood in the Parliament.

-The leftist party, which the mayor was expected to form a coalition with, refused. A ‘What the Fudge’ moment for the whole country ensues.

-The right-leaning party, which was projected to win, came in a close second. Since the left-leaning parties couldn’t get it together, now they’ll have a whack at forming a government.

An article from the Economist was recently brought to my attention. (Thanks, Paul!) It more or less summarizes the current political situation in Slovenia quite nicely. Please check it out. It’s quite short:

What’s doubly interesting, and what the article forgot to mention, is that this election was brought about by a vote of no-confidence. In short, this means that situation in parliament and the government was such a disastrous mess that the parliament voted themselves out of work. Before you get too excited, and start thinking, “hey, OUR congress is dysfunctional! Maybe we should have a vote of no-confidence,” two thoughts:

1. Lacking a parliament, we don’t have votes of no-confidence in the United States. The closest we can get is impeachment, and good luck impeaching the whole congress plus the president.

2. I believe that the current situation in Slovenia shows that such legislative problems will not be solved with the wave of a magic wand and an eraser. If we were able to have a vote of no-confidence in the United States, do you really think that things would change so easily? The essential problems that we’re dealing with are the same. The same people, more or less, would be populating the ranks of politicians who are dealing with these problems. The reasons why our legislatures aren’t getting anything done are more systemic then most want to admit.

Another thought: I like parliamentary systems, and I think that in many ways they are more “democratic” then our funky two-party system. But in this case, I’d say our winner-take-all model has more going for it. If, in these US next elections, somebody gets a good majority, it’s conceivable that legislation could be forced through. As the situation in Slovenia demonstrates, parliaments don’t work like that. In order to form a coalition and gain a majority, they’ve got to work with others. The upside is that they can’t quite shove legislation through like the US, making compromise quite important. The downside is in moments like these, when time is of the essence to save the future of the country, and nobody is compromising enough to shove legislation through.

I will keep you informed if, when, something happens. I don’t think the situation is so bad that the country will fall into the Adriatic anytime soon, but this is a real problem for Slovenia that doesn’t seem to be anywhere near conclusion, and will have a real impact on their economy. The best we can hope is that things will sort themselves out soon.