MON, 13 JAN 1997 20:13:15 GMT
Drnovsek Candidate for Prime Minister
AIM Ljubljana, 5 January, 1997
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ President Kucan has proposed Prime Minister Dr Janez Drnovsek for the mandatary of the Slovenian Government. The proposal should be voted for by the parliament, but for the time being it is hard to assume that this will happen, because the ratio of forces of right oriented "parties of Slovenian spring" and those opposed to them, inclined towards Drnovsek is 45:45 votes in the parliament. The opposing candidate to doctor of economic sciences and former president of the SFRY Dr Janez Drnovsek, is Marjan Podobnik, engineer of agriculture with no political experience, known for his doubts about Slovenia's European orientation. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Immediately after New Year's holidays, Slovenian President Milan Kucan finally stated his proposal for the mandatary of the new Slovenian Government. As expected it is Dr Janez Drnovsek, Prime Minister and President of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia, the party which won majority of votes in the past elections.
One should be reminded that the elections in Slovenia took place on 10 November, 1996, that four days after that official results were published, but they were such that they split the parliament into two. Out of the total of 90 deputies in the Slovenian parliament, exactly half of them (45) are supporters of the three right conservative parties (Slovenian National Party, Social Democratic Party of Slovenia and Slovenian Christian Democrats) which formed a coalition after the elections of the so-called "spring parties". These three parties call themselves founders of the Slovenian spring, which should mean - of the period when Slovenia had decided to become an independent state. The candidate for prime minister of one half is the President of the Slovenian National Party, Marjan Podobnik. The other block, which also has 45 votes but so far has not formed an official coalition, consists of the winners' party - the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia, United List of Social Democrats, the Democratic Party of pensioners of Slovenia and the Slovenian National Party. The candidate for prime minister of these parties is Dr. Janez Drnovsek.
The President of the State Just Proposes
Pursuant the Slovenian Constitution, the President of the state just proposes the name of his candidate for the mandatary to the parliament, but does not nominate him. This has already created confusion in some foreign media, so that two days ago when President Kucan sent the official proposal that Dr Drnovsek should be the mandatary, some of them commented on this proposal as a fait accompli. However, this is not the case, because the parliament must vote on this proposal in order to make it official. But, as already explained, the split of deputies in the parliament of 45:45 indicates with all probability that Dr Drnovsek will not be nominated. If this happens, great probability is that Marjan Podobnik will be proposed as the second candidate. In view of the situation in the parliament, most probably the same thing will happen, in other words, Podobnik does not have very big chances to be the official candidate either. What will happen then?
There is the possibility given to the president of the state to dissolve the parliament and schedule new elections. But, the newly elected deputies who have along with the seats in the national parliament secured for themselves quite high salaries and other privileges for the next four years, would not even hear about this possibility. Therefore, they will do everything possible to prevent this from happening, so it is quite possible that some of them will "cross to the other side" just to remain in their seats. Voting will be secret anyway, so noone will know.
Of course, there is also the third possibility. Nomination of an independent candidate for the possible prime minister of a "technical" government. Perhaps, at the moment, this would be the best solution for Slovenia, because it would end the two-months long haggling between the right and the left. This possibility was also discussed and certain names were already mentioned - for instance, France Arhar (Governor of the Bank of Slovenia), economist Professor Dr Janez Mencinger, and a few other less possible personalities, but so far they have all denied any possibility of their candidacy.
Who are Dr Janez Drnovsek and Marjn Podobnik
Dr Janez Drnovsek was born in 1950 and he is ten years senior to his counter-candidate Marjan Podobnik. Drnovsek is doctor of economic sciences, and Podobnik is engineer of agriculture. Drnovsek got his Ph.D. with the thesis "International Monetary Fund and Yugoslavia", and Podobnik got his B. Sci. with the thesis "Evaluation of the Service for Promotion of Milk Manufacturing in the Region of Cerkno (a small town in northern maritime, Podobnik's native region of Slovenia) and Necessary Personnel".
Both Drnovsek and Podobnik spent a part of their professional life at leading posts in the economy and agriculture, respectively. In the beginning of the eighties, Dr Drnovsek was the director of a branch of the leading Slovenian bank - Ljubljanska banka - in Trbovlje (a town in Slovenian part of the Sava river valley, the native region of Drnovsek - he was born in the village of Kisovec near Zagorje), and Podobnik was director of an agricultural cooperative in Idrija, near his native Cerkno in the beginning of the nineties.
As concerning their political experience, any comparison is impossible. Dr Drnovsek had begun his international, diplomatic career in the seventies in Yugoslav embassy in Cairo. Later he studied modern world economic system in Oslo Institute for International Economics. Dr Janez Drnovsek was a delegate in the chamber of the republics and provinces of the federal assembly of SFRY, then he was a candidate and elected president of former Yugoslavia and from that post he was nominated chairman of the movement of non-aligned countries. After Slovenia became independent, Drnovsek became president of the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia and after the fall of Demos government (Demos was a coalition of parties which had won in the first multi-party elections in Slovenia in 1990), he became Prime Minister of Slovenia in 1992, and he is still at the post.
During all that time, Marjan Podobnik was mostly in the "political underground", in other words - he was not present in the political life at all. Or, as colleague Zerdin from Mladina said: "While Podobnik was attending meetings of Demos in the village of Poljce, Drnovsek went to meetings of the World Economic Forum in Davos". That is why there is such a difference in the way they understand the Slovenian aim to become a member of the European Union as soon as possible. While Dr Drnovsek had done everything to reach this goal, the provincial politician Podobnik did everything in his power to prevent it. Now, as the candidate for the mandatary, he denies this but he admits that "there is no hurry" to join the Union.
Knowledge and Experience Do Not Matter
By looking at these data, everybody would conclude that Podobnik does not stand a chance. But, this is not true. A political game is under way, which has nothing to do with appreciation of knowledge and experience. It all depends on deputies who are obviously not true representatives of the will of the people. According to various polls, more than a half of Slovenians unreservedly support Dr Drnovsek's candidacy, about 20 per cent of the people would like to see Podobnik as the prime minister, and the others are either undecided or do not know who would be the best man at the post. The situation in the parliament, as mentioned is fifty-fifty, or rather 45:45.
It certainly is not all the same who will win, because the Government of the winner of this game will mark the road of Slovenia in the forthcoming period. Drnovsek's road is clear, because he had pursued his Europe-oriented policy so far. Podobnik would certainly be more flexible at the post than he was in the opposition, but nevertheless more provincial than Drnovsek. Podobnik also has a very repulsive attitude to cooperation of Slovenia with the newly-established states on the territory of former Yugoslavia, especially towards FR Yugoslavia. He was one of the main opponents to recognition of FRY by Slovenia.
What course the events concerning the mandatary will take, it will become clear around 10 January, when voting about Dr Drnovsek as the candidate will take place in the Slovenian parliament. Therefore, all we can do is wait and see.
Janja Klasinc, AIM