"The next two months will be as exciting as the next episode of my favourite political drama Borgen." Foto: DK
Dragan Barbutovski
In his new blog Dragan Barbutovski talks about how political horse-trading influences EP elections and selection of candidates Foto: MMC RTV SLO

If you think that plots like this happen only in fiction, I have news for you – the scenario is very close to reality. With the European Parliament elections looming and the campaign starting in one month time, the Slovenian and the European political chessboard might soon be ‘checkmate’ for many of its players.

Instead of strategically placing their candidates with a clear European vision, impeccable track record and commitment to the European idea and above all highest moral credibility, the parties rather go the same old worn-out domestic political figures who will be rubbing shoulders with complete political novices – some of them you’ve never heard and potentially never see gain. This mixture will be a European version of The Brady Bunch.

Old or young, experienced or not, on one extreme of the political spectrum or the other, they all have one thing in common – they desperately want to become a player in Brussels or retain a ‘comfortable’ position.

The suspicion is that candidates for the Members of the European Parliament will manoeuvre whichever way they can to be put – as high as possible – on the election list by one of Slovenia’s political parties. They have no other choice – running as in independent in Slovenia is a political suicide as the country is one constituency, making it virtually impossible of being elected without the well-oiled party political machinery in the background. Personal beliefs and even track records can be brushed aside by the party elders – the only criteria that will matter will be party political loyalty. And political horse-trading will begin at its earnest.

I In 2009 Prime Minister Borut Pahor offered a second term to the incumbent Commissioner Janez Potočnik. Was it that Pahor was terrified that Potočnik, being courted by several liberal political parties to take over the party leaderships after a complete collapse of the central left political spectrum, would in fact enter the Slovene political scene and shuffle the political cards?

In a typical political horse-trading arrangement a la Birgitte Nyborg, was it conceivable the ex Prime Minister Anton Rop who has been – according to reliable sources very close to Pahor – promised this post by Pahor was then pushed aside and eventually became the vice president of the European Investment Bank.

The same horse-trading is now taking place within the political parties – regardless if they are on the left or on the right, the tactics remains largely the same. If I would have to sum it up in one phrase, it would be: ‘political obedience over principle’.
But the last two weeks saw an end of the ultimate political horse-trading: Slovenian Commissioner Janez Potočnik finally broke the ‘no comment’ period and ruled himself out of the EP elections by deciding not to run for an MEP himself. However, he gave his support to the European Liberals. I have a feeling though that this is not the last time we’ll hear from or about Potočnik over the next two months…

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Dragan Barbutovski