31 May 2013

Slovenia: What Democracy?

A scene from anti-government protests this winter

Last week the parliament of Slovenia adjusted the Constitution in a way to curtail the citizens' right to overturn laws passed by the parliament via a referendum in a number of key areas. Most importantly the voters are from now on precluded from having a direct say in matters of finance, taxation, customs, ratification of interstate treaties and anything the parliament deems a matter of defense. In other words in exactly the areas which are the most important, and where a check of the government by the people is the most needed. They are also the areas where dissent and veto by the citizenry along the road, was the most likely.

The changes announced on May 24th will already be in effect tomorrow, eight days after the move. It was done quickly and quietly so as to attract the minimum of media attention. The media was anyway very cooperative and offered the development only scant attention, and even then only to pronounce this would actually serve to "limit abuse" of the referendum rule by political parties in motioning for referendum for "political purposes" (as opposed to for non-political purposes?).

In this way, a tiny parliament in a lightning fast move curtailed the Constitutional rights of two million citizens, who are without any legal recourse to contest the change. One can not help but note what absurdity this makes of allegedly high-minded, but actually empty and stupid notions of "democracy" and "social contract". So the Slovenians had previously 'socially contracted' they would have the right to overturn unpopular laws at direct polls, but now they have 'contracted' they would no longer have this privilege, though in fact aside from the 90 putschists in the parliament building nobody was actually doing anything last Friday? Give me a break!


  1. So will the people allow this outrage to stand??

    1. Yes. What else could they do?

      Forcing a U-turn on this is a too small goal to mobilize very many people. Most will see it as not sufficiently animating and ambitious goal to justify their redirecting a great deal of time and energy that it would take - and then for a very uncertain cause without the slightest guarantees of success.

      And if it were some bigger, more radical goal instead people couldn't agree what exactly it should be and so wouldn't come together either.