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Golob’s Doctrine: Confuse And Rule Confusingly

Until recently, the old maxim of rulers was “Divide and rule”. The Slovenian Prime Minister has not yet survived even two years in power, but outside observers can already conclude that Golob has turned Caesar’s maxim on its head. The number of cases where the Prime Minister has changed his mind practically overnight is so great that these days, “Confuse and Rule” is much more valid. In the article below, we are presenting the major cases where the Prime Minister announced something and then simply changed his mind.

The latest example of this kind concerns subsidising the full price of kindergarten attendance for the second child. Note that this was first introduced by the government of Janez Janša, but then the current Minister Darjo Felda announced that the subsidy would be reduced to 70 percent. Apparently, the government has now changed its mind and will leave the subsidy alone. The government’s change of plans again shows the way in which the government has acted and has internalised confusion as its basic modus operandi. This has become a constant that has accompanied the Prime Minister since he was sworn in.

Taxation is perhaps the most obvious example. Even before the elections, the Prime Minister said he (personally) did not need low taxes. He delivered on his promise of higher taxes and reduced disposable income shortly after coming to power. He then announced a tax reform. When the first details of the reform, which would hit real estate, were leaked, the public reaction was almost exclusively negative. The Secretary of State at the Ministry of Finance lost his job, and the Prime Minister publicly stated that there would be no reform if the people did not agree to it. In other words, the Prime Minister changed his mind, and the tax reform disappeared from public debate for a few months. “If we can’t convince people that the reforms will make their lives easier, we won’t go through with them,” Robert Golob said ruefully. At one point, government representatives also pledged not to make any more promises.

The zig-zag of judicial increases

Another major example was the Prime Minister’s promise of a 600-euro raise for judicial workers. The ill-conceived promise even earned him criticism within the government team. The Minister of Justice Dominika Švarc Pipan described the Prime Minister’s promise as a “crucial mistake” that drew an avalanche of demands from other trade unions. Despite the apparent reluctance, the government sent a bill on the temporary allowance for judicial officials to the National Assembly under the emergency procedure. The emergency procedure is supposed to be reserved for natural disasters, the times of war and grave danger to democracy. After heavy criticism from the public and the Legislative and Legal Service of the National Assembly, the government changed its mind and withdrew the bill. Now, the government is trying for a second time. The Ministry of Justice has already sent the proposal to the Judicial Council. This time, the increase for judges would be “only” 577 euros.

The fate of the bears is uncertain

Another example of Golob’s confused and capricious governance can be seen in the management of the bear population. In April this year, the Prime Minister openly defied the profession when he called on the now-resigned Minister of Natural Resources and Spatial Planning, Brežan, to “freeze” the decision to cull 230 bears from their natural habitat. He changed his mind the very next day, and the decision remained in force. He then protested against the cull of nutria in the Ljubljana Marshes, saying that another solution had to be found. But he has apparently changed his mind on this point, too. The cull started in mid-September.

The flood confusion and the “cancelled” solidarity contribution

A particularly large amount of contradictory communication could be observed after the August floods. Damage assessments skyrocketed in the days following the natural disaster. First, the Prime Minister told the media that the damage estimate exceeded half a billion euros, then we heard about estimates of 2.5 billion euros, 6.7 billion euros, and finally, the estimate of as much as 9.9 billion euros of damage came from the government circles. The Prime Minister explained that the money for the recovery would come from various sources, such as European funds, but that citizens themselves would also have to contribute. But Golob has apparently changed his mind in this case, too. The solidarity contribution with which he intended to burden all taxpayers is clearly not coming. There will, of course, be other taxes to compensate for the solidarity contribution. There will also be an increase in corporation tax, that is to say, in company tax.

The Prime Minister is rethinking the number of ministries

Just before the start of the November holidays, there was a shake-up in the ruling Freedom Movement party (Gibanje Svoboda). The party expelled one of its champions, Mojca Šetinc Pašek, and the Prime Minister announced on the same day a drastic reduction in the number of ministries. The Prime Minister’s announcement, against which he has admittedly sworn on a declaratory level, has shaken the political floor more than the expulsion of an allegedly disobedient MP. Slovenia is to move to the Swiss model of seven ministries. Or, perhaps, at least lower the number of ministries to 12. In both cases, the smaller coalition partners, the Social Democrats (Socialni demokrati – SD) and the Left party (Levica), would lose ministries. With that decision, Golob would also have “overturned” the referendum will of the people who, at his request, approved the increase in the government team. However, Golob changed his mind after the holidays. At a press conference after a meeting of the government parties, he rejected the idea of reconstructing the government, saying it was “one of the last options”.

Janez Šušteršič: The Government is a victim of momentary fancies

The first victim of the Prime Minister’s unstable communication and fidgety style of governing is, of course, the government, and then the people. “The government has become a victim of the momentary whims and mood swings of its President, Dr Golob. To illustrate: he comes up with the idea of solidarity contribution, and the idea is enacted, but then he changes his mind, and it is abolished. He proposes 20 ministries, he tries to make sure that the law survives the referendum, but in the end, he changes his mind and wants to change the law to even fewer ministries than there were before. And so on, there have been far too many examples of this in his career,” former Minister of Finance Janez Šušteršič commented for the newspaper Žurnal.

Žiga Korsika

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