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Tanja Fajon’s Sad Goodbye To The Jewish Villa

The outgoing President of the Social Democrats party (Socialni demokrati – SD), Tanja Fajon, is selling the Jewish villa that was the SD party’s headquarters for decades, for 2.2 million euros.

The villa is a symbol of the transition, and it was confiscated as supposedly abandoned by the communist authorities after the war, from the “collaborator” family of a wealthy Jewish merchant who died in a Nazi camp. Decades later, the authorities paid some compensation to the heirs, but they never regained possession of the building after the war. The SD party got it during the government of Janez Drnovšek, with whom they were coalition partners, in exchange for a part of the Parliament building, which they had appropriated from the social property of the previous regime, when they had made the work and existence of all of their political opponents impossible.

… Even with murder. But they were aware of the importance of capital in politics – now worth some two million euros. This is not the only such property of the SD party. They have many more around the country. A court even convicted the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS), Janez Janša, for estimating that this was a stolen villa. It was an advantage for competitors. You could also call it: truth is a criminal act in our country. However, this is not the only ruling of a similarly disgraceful kind by our judiciary when it comes to freedom of speech and condemnation of totalitarianism. The villa was recently rented out by the SD party to the 1st of May Institute (Inštitut 1. maj), which was founded by the former Secretary-General of the SD party, Klemen Žibert, and the outgoing President Fajon. And it was rented out for a rather astronomical rent. The footage published as part of the advertisement for the sale shows that the building, which I have visited many times as a journalist, is being renovated.

Borut Pahor, when he was still the leader of the SD party, was already thinking about selling it to save the party from the red numbers. Tanja Fajon is the latest party President of the so-called Constitutional Arch Coalition (Koalicija ustavnega loka – KUL), who has to say goodbye to the top of her party after the voters showed the door to the said “coalition” (which was actually the opposition during the previous government term of Janez Janša) in the elections. She has badly missed the target set for her four years ago when Dejan Židan handed over the party to her, hoping she would become the future Prime Minister of the country. She has also not yet succeeded in the financial rehabilitation of the party, which was the second objective. But she did help get the party in an even worse position than it was before.

The first of the Constitutional Arch Coalition to put the protests full of hate speech and calls for death above the right to health and life of senior citizens during the epidemic of COVID-19 was the failed Karl Erjavec, who was not even backed by his Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (Demokratična stranka upokojencev Slovenije – DeSUS) when he tried to take power. He said goodbye before the elections, in which the DeSUS party did not even reach the percentage needed to secure budget subsidies. However, we did not see the entry of Marjan Šarec‘s List of Marjan Šarec (Lista Marjana Šarca – LMŠ) or Alenka Bratušek‘s Party of Alenka Bratušek (Stranka Alenke Bratušek – SAB) into the National Assembly either. Both parties were handed over to Robert Golob after the elections, who ensured the party leaders’ political survival by securing their ministerial positions, even though they were rejected by the electorate as leaders. Luka Mesec of the Left party (Levica) and Tanja Fajon did not resign either, although they suffered a fiasco at the elections. The SD party was overtaken at the elections by Matej Tonin‘s New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi). For the Left party, it was not even certain at the start of the vote count whether they would reach the threshold and actually get into the National Assembly. Mesec and Fajon declared the Freedom Movement’s victory to be their own, too, and entered the government, which ensured their political survival without them having to shut down their parties – at least immediately after the elections.

But it was clear that the bill would come sooner or later, because losing the elections would make it difficult to pay the campaign debts. Even the dramatic increase in subsidies enacted by the parties as of the new year did not solve the problem, nor did the renting out of the former SD headquarters to an institute set up by Fajon and the party’s Secretary-General.

The state has less control over the business dealings of institutes than political parties. This is why Simon Maljevac of the Left party established the 8th of March Institute (Inštitut 8. marec) for Nika Kovač, Miha Kordiš established the agricultural NDP TOZD for himself, and Fajon and Žibert established the 1st of May Institute. And now the former two are in important political positions – as is Kordiš.

Alongside the financial problems, the SD party will also have to foot the bill for governing, which usually falls on the smaller coalition partners in elections. Especially since the current government seems set on going down in history as one of the most wasteful, incompetent and even undemocratic governments we have ever had. The Freedom Movement-led government has shamelessly denied parliamentary control of the government to the largest opposition party, SDS, and has subjugated the state and other media through political purges for propaganda purposes. Golob was already paying individual media outlets under the table while he was still working in the state-owned GEN-I before the elections. They turned the principles of the separation of powers and the rules of a well-functioning state into a comedy of abuses to cling to power. The soon-to-be former Secretary-General of the Freedom Movement party, Vesna Vuković, is a symbol of the party’s politics …

… Just like the Jewish villa is the symbol of the SD party

The candidate for the new President of the SD party after Fajon is, alongside MP Jani Prednik and the Ajdovščina Mayor Tadej Beočanin, the presidential candidate of the Freedom Movement party and the SD party, Milan Brglez, who, with by far the most campaign money and the support of the two ruling parties, failed to even make it to the second round in the last presidential elections. Brglez, who started his career as Speaker of the National Assembly for Miro Cerar‘s Modern Centre Party (Stranka Modernega Centra – SMC), was elected MEP five years ago after being expelled from his former party and subsequently joining the SD party. But not as the voters’ choice. Rather, he was the choice of an electoral system that elects parties, not individuals. He was only 14th in the number of preferential votes he received. Fajon won the majority of the SD party’s 54,651 votes. Brglez’s 7,152 were enough for second place. He overtook Matjaž Nemec, who was only 17th among all candidates with 5,636 votes. Brglez was beaten by, for example, Igor Šoltes, then standing for the DeSUS party, with 21,310 votes. But DeSUS did not reach the threshold and thus did not get into the European Parliament. Similarly, Violeta Tomić, with 12,244 votes, was ahead of Brglez, and the same fate as that of the DeSUS party also befell the Left party. Now that the SD party is performing badly in the run-up to the European elections, Brglez is in a tight spot, as he could be left without any office. His possible election as SD president could put him back in the game, and his candidacy could help his ambitions even if he does not win. Just showing up allows for political trading, which the chess player Brglez knows how to do.

If they sell the Jewish villa, which was confiscated after the war and for which they paid nothing, their financial problems will be solved.

… At least for a while.

Peter Jančič

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