A Red Carrot Harvest in Croatia

Once upon a time – but still fresh in memory of many – there were jobs for most. The communist rule in former Yugoslavia, with socialist orientation made it their business that everyone of working age and capacity should have an ongoing job without the fear of redundancy.

Productivity and business viability were unimportant in this false economy.

The false economy served as a vessel for brainwashing the population into thinking how good communism/socialism were. Printing money and borrowing heavily was the government’s way of financing deficits in the budget. By late-1980’s almost 95% of employers/companies relied heavily on loans to pay wages. The country’s inflation/hyperinflation (consumer prices) reached over 2,700%. http://www.theodora.com/wfb1990/yugoslavia/yugoslavia_economy.html

Corruption and pilfering ran amuck at all levels of government backed businesses, organisations, public service, which encompassed an overwhelming majority of jobs.

A culture of personal irresponsibility for country’s economy almost became a second nature. As long as one got paid one did not care how and from where.

Nostalgia for those “good old days” hadn’t left the lips of many in Croatia during the last 20 years as Croatia marched on with independence and democratic reforms in all aspects of life.

Voters ousted Croatia’s ruling conservatives (HDZ) on Sunday 4th December handing the centre-left opposition a strong mandate to overhaul the flagging economy before the republic joins the European Union in 2013.

By Monday 5th December vote count, the opposition alliance Kukuriku (‘cock-a-doodle-doo’), won 80 seats in the 151-seat parliament, HDZ was second with 47 seats. 24 seats distributed between 17 minor parties/alliances including ethnic minorities.

It seems HDZ has now been punished by voters for a string of corruption cases in courts from its midst, brought to courts by the ruling HDZ itself, rising unemployment and pursuit against communist crimes from WWII.

HDZ’s election campaign pursued economic stability, anti-corruption hardline as well as determination to process all crimes including organised and communist war crimes.

The Kukuriku bloc is led by 45-year-old former diplomat Zoran Milanovic of the Social Democrats (SDP)[The party was established in November 1990 by the social democratic faction of the former League of Communists of Croatia (SKH), the regional branch of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (SKJ)].

Zoran Milanovic, leads the "cock-a-doodle-doo" coalition into electoral victory

The Kukuriku election campaign speeches did not emphasise anti-corruption and organised crime. They stuck to economic reforms and job creation – the latter being the red carrot that draws out the hungry in droves. In fact their “Plan 21” election platform placed “society without corruption” at number 18! http://www.kukuriku.org/plan21

Not a very high-priority  spot for a country apparently riddled with corrupt individuals in powerful places of past and present.

Given that war against corruption was a high-priority task imposed upon Croatia by EU in the past couple of years HDZ, rightly so, placed it high on their agenda.

(The EU Treaty that Croatia is about to sign this week stipulates areas of EU monitoring as a condition of Croatia actually securing the final step into EU territory in July 2013; fight against corruption is one of those areas).

But people don’t really want that it seems? Or are too many too afraid that USKOK (The Bureau for Combating Corruption and Organised Crime) might come knocking on their door?

There are too many influential antifascists/communists around asserting that Communist crimes must not be processed or punished because, they say, these were committed for freedom!

At hearing the good news of the Kukuriku bloc electoral windfall Milanovic repeated to Croatians his election campaign’s phrase that they will have to work “more, harder, longer” to turn the economy around before the country of 4.3 million people becomes a full member of EU in July 2013. The fact that the imminent referendum on this issue is yet to come seems to have given his mind a slip.

This is all fine and dandy to say. Those who actually have a job would probably not argue against an opportunity to work more, harder and longer as that in itself suggests more income.

The hundreds of thousands of unemployed would truly welcome the opportunity to work “more, harder, longer”.

But in the current climate of global economic turmoil and downturns it almost seems irresponsible of a leading politician to come out with such statements and electoral promises, in such confident force, to the desperate multitude of unemployed in a country with minimal economic growth in sight.

But, let’s not fret, it’s early days. Let’s see what hat-tricks Milanovic and his coalition colleagues have in store to pull that one off.

The Kukuriku alliance, led by Mr Milanovic’s Social Democrats, has promised austerity measures and steps to revive industry and attract foreign investment.

Jadranka Kosor (HDZ) has refused to approach the IMF for a loan, but Mr Milanovic said he would not rule it out as a “last resort”.

The Kukuriku bloc just might borrow Tito’s hat, the one that former Yugoslavia also wore after his death in 1980 only to bring the country to ruin by 1989. Loans, more loans and money printing were the order of the day.

It’s interesting to see that the electorates where conservative HDZ held onto the majority of seats are those areas of Croatia that suffered the most during the 1991 – 1995 war of Serbian aggression. In fact, much of the former self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina in Croatia remains blue-winged. A significance in this could point to a conclusion that the war scars are still fresh in Croatia? Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd).

Self-proclaimed Republic of Serbian Krajina within Croatia 1991-1995

General elections 2011 results in Croatia. Red= majority seats won by centre-left "Cock-a-doodle-doo" Kukuriku alliance. Blue = majority seats won by conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ)


  1. Branko Butkovic says:

    Good insight! Really HDZ only has itself to blame for alienating its voting corpus and not recognizing opportunities to cleanse its ranks of dubious characters and thus strategically keeping up with the chickens. They also failed to discredit the yugonostalgic media hype and all the claims that “we lived better during Tito”. How difficult would it have been to respond with the logical explanation that jugoslavia only prospered because of its geographic position in the context of the Cold War; how many billions of dollars/rubles were injected into the above-mentioned ‘false economy’ just so the enemy doesn’t gain advantage – streets in FY states should be paved in gold! In today’s world that cash cow doesn’t exist. Prosperity here is definitely possible if our government plays its cards right, and if not we might just become another generic, semi-apatrid state like Belgium. Enjoy your blog very much.

    • Thanks. Totally agree. However dubious characters exist everywhere, I’m certain, not only HDZ. HDZ has had the courage to wear the pressure & damage dirty linnen brings. Others haven’t shown it yet, but who knows …

      • Branko Butkovic says:

        Agree – and then some. The problem being that HDZ’s dubious characters have been well document in the media and court procedures (although I personally think that there is still plenty of work to do there). Others have not had the same treatment and there is no will here, it seems, neither political nor judicial (the bearded and bushy-browed protagonist of your and Despot’s recent revelations regarding disappearing cheques I believe having a lot to do with this) to exercise the same scrutiny with the chickens and with the aforementioned ‘muvator’.
        HDZ also needs to be aware of operators within its ranks – I find it hard to believe that our MIA could be that incompetent that it would score three “Golden Sombreros” in three tries – Linic, Obersnel, Boljkovac. Yes, the AG bought himself another 4 years by dismissing the charges but Karamarko should have been better prepared to make sure the charges stick.
        Lastly, I wish you and Zvonimir the best of luck in exposing the facts surrounding the lost cheques. You certainly picked the right local journalist to work with!

      • “It may well be,” said Cadfael, “that our justice sees as in a mirror image, left where right should be, evil reflected back as good, good as evil, your angel as her devil. But God’s justice, if it makes no haste, makes no mistakes.” Ellis Peters, 1913 – 1995, The Potter’s Field.

    • Branko Butkovic says:

      Interesting take on law paradox. It would really be nice, however, for God’s justice to permeate our own, earthly system so that we could have some satisfaction before we leave this place.

      The article mentions that “…the communist rule in former Yugoslavia, with socialist orientation made it their business that everyone of working age and capacity should have an ongoing job without the fear of redundancy.”

      I wonder if it could also be said that those who were privileged and/or unquestioningly obeyed “The Borg” didn’t have to fear being booted from those jobs for being incompetent or for being slackers or both. Non-conformists were given other lines of work – often involving a parade, horses and a shovel (I know… I’m slightly exaggerating). But they didn’t have to fear for their jobs either. Reminds me of Anatole France’s “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.”

      • Yes it could be said. All jobs of “power” eg directors, managers etc school principles, university lecturers, company directors … were filled “in the line of duty” i.e. by communist comrades regardless of whether they were capable of doing the job or not. The practice of job-for-life without fear of being stood down for incompetence, pilfering etc was widespread and all jobs protected under labor laws. This was a huge problem when Croatia became independent, private investors bought up companies but could not trim the staffing, let go of surplus or unproductive staff. Problems like that still linger but much progress has been made in industrial relations and employment laws to reflect reality = cannot have a job if do not produce etc

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