Bajuk government coming to an end
Prime Minister Andrej Bajuk's government hit the 100-day benchmark this past week. With elections less than two weeks away, the first 100 days are about all that the government had. Unfortunately, this government has consistently received significantly lower marks than its predecessor.
The news weekly Mladina reviewed the government's progress and had little good to say. Among the highlights were the mass dismissals and replacement of the staff of government agencies that, at the time, the press referred to as "purges."
As a candidate, Bajuk promised that he would only make small staffing changes in order to be able to better implement his program. Once he entered office, almost two-thirds of those civil servants working on the Slovene bid for European Union membership were replaced. The advisory boards of large state-owned enterprises were also replaced.
The move was political, meant to highlight corruption in the previous government, but ultimately only wasted what little time the government had in its mandate.
As a candidate, Bajuk also promised that he would be responsible for the EU membership bid himself, and so did not appoint a minister to manage it. However, he has not paid much attention to the duties of that post and very little progress has been made.
Complications within parliament meant that Slovenia missed its mark of passing a sufficient number of laws to keep it on track for 2003 membership into the EU. The government after the 15 October elections will have to not only take care of the large share meant for it, but now also the backlog of laws scheduled to be passed over the summer.
The Mladina article also discusses the fact that the Bajuk government on numerous occasions used the EU as an excuse for its ideologically motivated moves. One example was taken from July, when the government complained to the EU that elections intended for the fall might not be able to occur since Slovenia did not have a functioning election law.
The government should have lodged its complaint with the Constitutional Court of Slovenia, which it never did. In any case, the issue was rendered moot weeks later when parliament did finally pass the new election law according to which the 15 October elections will take place.
Slovenia reacts to the situation in Belgrade
At its 6 October session, the government discussed the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. At a press conference after the session, Foreign Minister Lojze Peterle told the press that his Ministry is eager to make contact with the new Yugoslav regime and to schedule the first official visit since the dissolution of the old Yugoslav federation.
Peterle was quick to add, however, that the Slovene government is in no rush to establish diplomatic relations with Belgrade until the issues concerning the political and financial succession of the former Yugoslavia are concluded.
The Milošević regime in Belgrade has insisted for ten years that the current Yugoslavia is the sole legal heir to the former Yugoslavia whilst Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Bosnia-Hercegovina all maintain that they, along with the current Yugoslavia, are equal heirs to the former state.
Predictions two weeks before elections
According to predictions, the Liberal Democrats (LDS) should take the lion's share of the vote in the upcoming elections. However, they are not predicted to gain an absolute majority themselves, and so a coalition will have to be established.
An article in the daily Delo examined the possibilities. One possibility is a coalition of the LDS, the Social Democrats (SDS) and the New Slovenia Party (NSi). This is unlikely, nonetheless, given the rivalry between the leadership of the LDS and SDS.
A second possibility is a reunified "Slovene Spring" coalition made up of the SDS, NSi, and SLS+SKD Slovene People's Party. This is the composition of the current governing coalition. The tremendous falling out among the parties, however, should preclude this arrangement.
Delo predicts that the best-case scenario is a center-left coalition made up of the LDS, the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD) and the pensioner's Party DeSUS.
Just 14 days before the elections, the Slovene Nationalist Party (SNS) finally opened a Website. Short on content, the page can be found at the following Website. The SNS had been the only parliamentary party not to have a Website.
The national press service, STA, published an article in which the Slovene Youth Party (SMS) complained that it was not appearing in any of the polls. The SMS suggested that public opinion polls should include all eleven parties fielding candidates in all electoral regions, not just the seven parties currently in parliament.
On Saturday 7 October Delo published the results of a poll conducted among 3030 respondents chosen to give a representative sample of the country as a whole. The results show the LDS in the lead with 34 percent, followed by the SDS and ZLSD with 12 percent each, and the SLS+SKD with nine percent. The poll also showed six percent for both the NSi and DeSUS parties and four percent for the SNS.
Delo took the above-mentioned comments of the SMS to heart, and the party appeared in a nationally-published poll for the first time with a predicted 5 percent. The position of the NSi, DeSUS, SNS and SMS is tenuous at best, given that they must win at least four percent of the vote to have a seat in parliament.
If the election results conform to the results of the poll, there will be eight parliamentary parties, the most since independence in 1991.
Church and army
President Milan Kučan met with Senior Erniša, head of the Slovene Evangelical Church, this week at Murska Sobota. The two spoke of the importance of Protestantism to Slovenia, and Erniša suggested that the park next to the Evangelical church in Ljubljana be renamed in honor of the Slovene Reformation.
The survival of the Slovene Church after five hundred years of Austrian-German rule is due, in large, to the active role Slovene writers, translators and clerics took during the Reformation.
The meeting occurred just days after Defense Minister Janez Janša announced the signing of an agreement with the Roman Catholic Church to introduce chaplains into the Slovene army. The agreement was also on the agenda for the Kučan-Erniša meeting. Erniša was quick to point out that the Evangelical Church does not support any political party in the elections, which was a swipe at the Catholic Church's support for the conservative Slovene Spring parties (SLS+SKD, SDS, NSi). Kučan and Janša are old rivals.
Brian J Požun, 7 October 2000
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