Dejan Židan (SD) almost suspended the Slovenian national assembly last week because there was no quorum. In two attempts on Wednesday night, the number of deputies who voted was nowhere near enough. Židan tried to solve the problem by postponing the session for a day. But it does not work that way. The rule is that he must order a short recess, and if the deputies are not there during the third vote, the national assembly is suspended. Those missing without justification do not receive their wage. It would have been a disgrace. The national assembly has just been elected, and Židan has also just started leading it. But the coalition, which must ensure the functioning of the national assembly, is already falling apart.
The complication regarding the vote, which was generously overlooked by most members of the media, was not accidental. It was a message to Židan and Marjan Šarec that other coalition parties can extort just as effectively as Luka Mesec’s Left, which succeeded in having a lot of strange things included in the coalition agreement. And at the end of this game, Janez Janša’s opposition party (SDS) shows up with a club. Miro Cerar’s SMC party has shown in the national assembly that they can do it too. SMC already sent the first message that they are not messing around at the beginning of the week, when they did not support Katja Šeruga in the programme council of RTV Slovenija after she had been nominated by director Igor Kadunc for TV director. The vote was led by Ciril Baškovič (SD), who is a member of the same party as Židan. Šeruga lost because only 12 of the 29 councillors voted for her. The most leftist part of the predominantly leftist councillors. Members of the media responded to the result with rather odd assessments.
For example, in Večer, Blaž Petkovič simply summarised the comments of a journalist at Val 202 about the vote concerning the former editor of Večer. This is the safest decision: “The appointment of Katja Šeruga was also voted on by people who admitted during the session that they don’t know her, that they’ve never heard of her. These are the people shaping the future of the public broadcaster RTV,” the journalist Nejc Jemec from Val 202 commented on the events that occurred on Monday on the fifth floor of a building on Kolodvorska Street.
One of the councillors did discuss before the vote that she does not know who Šeruga was. But this does not seem that odd if we know that before the vote the director-general, Igor Kadunc, had not provided the programme council with a CV of the candidate for the second most important function at the public broadcaster RTV. He actually had sent it to them, but it had remained with the secretary of the programme council, who had failed to forward it. And the journalistic description is a manipulation as it attributes ignorance to all who voted. The councillors who have been appointed to the programme council in the last few years by the centre-left (there are only token right-wing members) are not clueless dilettantes. Rather, it could be argued that this actually applies more to the journalists who write such things. The TV personality Sašo Hribar, the journalist Marjan Dora or the former head of Cankarjev dom Mitja Rotovnik – none of them supported Šeruga, and they know just as much about the business of the public broadcaster RTV and about Šeruga as Petkovič or Jemec. More even. Ženja Leiler at Delo was more cautious in her assessments, but I also disagree with her assessment regarding the excessive power of the programme council of RTV. The RTV council used to have a lot of power when it was led by the former president of SD Janez Kocijančič. The amendment of the law during the first government of Janez Janša increased the power of the director general and the supervisory board, which is mostly appointed by the government. Kadunc has serious problems with the supervisory board, which is another sign that there is a conflict in the public institution between leftists and the more centrist liberals around SMC.
Möderndorfer’s defence of Möderndorfer
Immediately after Šeruga’s loss, Kadunc even thought about resigning. This was already the second expression of no confidence. In July, they had also rejected his nomination for acting TV director, Andrej Stopar. But he had brought those events about himself because of a dispute with former director Ljerka Bizilj, when he attacked the editor-in-chief Jadranka Rebernik. Leaders in the public sector who remove too many people often end up in trouble themselves. Especially if they remove editors for political reasons, as Kadunc did with Rebernik when he complained that it was unacceptable for a journalist of the broadcaster to allow a Croatian singer to respond to the accusation that he was a fascist and an Ustasha. According to the code of ethics, a journalist has to do this in the case of a serious accusation.
The incident in the national assembly was a similar case of a power struggle. It was led by SMC and Jani Möderndorfer, who again became their deputy on Wednesday and is just as much of a fighter as Kadunc. Even more so. “You are silencing a deputy,” Möderndorfer defended himself and then left the national assembly in protest. In the past, he was the main instigator of the revocation of Janez Janša’s mandate, which was abolished by the Slovenian constitutional court as an abuse of power. Möderndorfer was followed by the complete SMC deputy group. Four deputies of SNS left in protest as well, but for different reasons. SMC announced Möderndorfer as a speaker a day before the session of the assembly, when he was not a deputy yet. Specialist services mistakenly put him on the list of deputies. The leadership of the national assembly later noticed the mistake and agreed that this would not do and that Möderndorfer, as a new deputy, would only get to speak at the end of the session, when the unused time of the deputy groups is shared.
But Möderndorfer responded extremely combatively, even nervously, that he does not accept to be silenced and reduced to the status of a “remnant”. He was already at the border of decency when he “persuaded” Tina Heferle (LMŠ), who led the session, with: “I’ll remind you of this throughout your term, and you’ll also end your term with this. Believe me. You don’t know me yet … you’ll get to know me.” Heferle answered calmly and with a smile: “I’m glad that we’ve also got to know each other in this way.” This was no joke. Möderndorfer is known as a hard and relentless fighter, in the last few years particularly with regards to Janša, against whom he proposed a failed legislation that would prevent Janša from running for public functions (Muscolo), and he was one of the instigators of the withdrawal of Janša’s mandate, which was abolished by the Slovenian constitutional court. When it came to Janša, Möderndofer did not have similar concerns as in his own case, when it was only about speaking a few hours later.
But this is simply an example of a vile party policy, part of which is also that a few hours later the protest departure of the great fighter Möderndorfer against Möderndorfer being silenced caused problems for Dejan Židan since he suddenly did not have enough (coalition) deputies for the vote The consequence of losing their wages was probably also the reason why before the fateful vote the leader of the SMC deputy group, Igor Zorčič, turned up again, explaining that the obstruction they had announced also applied to votes on personnel matters. In this way, Zorčič protected nine deputies of SMC against wage cuts in case there were not enough deputies during the third vote.
But during the third vote, ten deputies from SDS, who had failed to press any buttons before, did vote. And Židan somehow managed to end the session with their help.
This time. Just.