Slove­nia’s satirist PM moves on from mock­ing politi­cians

The Scotsman - - World News - By JOVANA GEC in Ljubl­jana

Slove­nia’s new prime min­is­ter used to make peo­ple laugh. Han­dling the dis­parate de­mands of his five-party coali­tion gov­ern­ment is un­likely to leave much time for jokes.

Once a satirist who im­per­son­ated prom­i­nent politi­cians, Mar­jan Sarec has taken the helm of a largely cen­trist gov­ern­ment – a rare phe­nom­e­non, at least re­cently, in Cen­tral Europe where pop­ulists have been on the march from Italy to Poland.

Sarec, Slove­nia’s youngest ever pre­mier at 40, faces a tough job. The gov­ern­ment’s ma­jor­ity in par­lia­ment is slim and the right-wing op­po­si­tion is not go­ing to give Sarec a hon­ey­moon in of­fice.

En­act­ing too many re­forms is not go­ing to be easy in that en­vi­ron­ment and that could po­ten­tially lead to dis­gruntle­ment in a coun­try of just two mil­lion peo­ple. The tight par­lia­men­tary arith­metic was ev­i­dent on Thurs­day when the new gov­ern­ment was nar­rowly en­dorsed. Only half the 90-mem­ber backed the gov­ern­ment, just enough to keep away from power the an­ti­im­mi­grant al­lies of Hun­gary’s prime min­is­ter Vik­tor Or­ban.

An­a­lysts warned it is too early to say if the el­e­va­tion of a mod­er­ate gov­ern­ment spells a turn­ing point in the re­gion.

“At stake now is Europe, more than Slove­nia,” said Janez Markes, an an­a­lyst for the Delo news­pa­per. “Slove­nia at this mo­ment, I hate to say it, is not part of the prob­lem.”

The suc­cess of the new gov­ern­ment could de­pend heav­ily on whether Sarec, who gave up a suc­cess­ful act­ing ca­reer when he first en­tered pol­i­tics, proves he is up to the task.

Sarec served twice as the mayor of his na­tive Kam­nik, in cen­tral Slove­nia be­fore gain­ing promi­nence when he forced a pres­i­den­tial runoff vote last year against vet­eran politi­cian Borut Pa­hor.

“It is eas­ier to ob­serve from the side and crit­i­cise than to do some­thing,” Sarec said in par­lia­ment. “It is time to start work­ing now.”

One of the main­stays of Sarec’s act was im­per­son­at­ing former prime min­is­ter Janez Jansa, who is now his main right-wing op­po­nent.

With a group of young artists, Sarec hosted a satir­i­cal ra­dio show dubbedra­dio Ga Ga, pop­u­lar across Slove­nia in the 1990s. Some of his per­for­mances show Sarec al­ter­ing his voice to mock politi­cians’ ac­cents, singing or scream­ing with a kitchen cloth on his head as an al­ter­na­tive poet. Saso Hribar, a jour­nal­ist who worked with Sarec, says he re­mem­bers the new prime min­is­ter as highly pro­fes­sional and con­sid­ers him thor­oughly pre­pared for his any of his roles.

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Mar­jan Sarec has gone from po­lit­i­cal satirist to prime min­is­ter

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