New presidential election in Croatia is fast approaching as 2014 slides into its second half. Articles published in Croatia’s leading newspaper Vecernji List on 7 June about three possible candidates (Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Zeljka Markic and Ivo Josipovic/current incumbent) for 2015 elections can be taken as a kind of a voter crossroad, which leads the voters into serious thinking and consideration as to what kind of a presidential candidate they’ll vote for and who will lead them into the future.
I’m certain that the voters of Croatia are sick and tired of hearing about how Croatia is in a bad shape – especially economically, but also on politically still tangled questions dating to the 1990’s Homeland War as well as those that followed in the years after WWII, which polarise the Croatian people to the point of frequently visible unrests.
Hence, I am also certain that Croatian voters, besides hearing the public admissions from leading politicians, including future presidential candidates – e.g. Ivo Josipovic – that Croatia is in a bad shape, a difficult state, will also seek in their future president to show them why Croatia is in bad shape and how he/she intends to get them out of it. That is, or that should be the most important question a voter asks himself on the way to the polling booth, i.e. as he circles his preferred candidate on the ballot sheet. Voting is a deeply personal matter in a democracy; in a democracy “the recruitment” of votes along Party lines, if it occurs, should not make a decisive or significant impact if the voter turnout is significant. Croatian democracy is “an adult”, it has come “of age”, at least on paper. The possibility that the voters will this time, after more than two decades, transfer that “adult” democracy from paper into a physical deed when they turn up to vote in significant numbers warms the heart.
Regardless of limited powers of presidents they have unbelievably great powers. It’s like that in almost all democratic countries, and so too in Croatia, in which the powers of the Government are separated from those of a President. A great deal of presidential powers is informal, i.e. it is not written anywhere in the Constitution or the Laws of the country. When Theodore Roosevelt (US President 1901-1909) said that the presidential office provided him with a “bully pulpit”, a powerful platform from which he could draw attention to important issues, he was referring to the superb platform from which to advocate for agendas and, hence, the great importance of president’s informal powers.
Given that Croatia is a member state of the EU and, hence, in that it enjoys an internationally well-noticed spot from which it can be heard on economic and political issues, Croatia needs a president who will lead it successfully into the world in which trust and credibility are of the highest importance. Without those qualifications there are no foreign investments of note or affirmation of the political questions Croatia struggles with.
As we know, or as we should know, it’s not important to which political party or which citizen movements a presidential candidate belongs to or is inclined towards because the presidential function serves all equally. That which is important is the person filling the job of a president and the personal qualifications he/she brings to that job. Choosing a president for a country is no different to choosing the CEO of a large corporation or company. That if the practical and political reality of today’s fluidity in which private capital or investments do not recognise state borders but often look into who is leading a country. And so, a successful president must possess the characteristics of cooperation, compromise and negotiation, especially across the international scene.
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, with her solid experience and acquired knowledge of the international scene – in which she has always been recognised as a Croatian no matter where she was or what role she led – personifies the most successful candidate among the three possible candidates for the President of Croatia put forth for our consideration in the aforementioned Vecernji List articles.
Vecernji List journalist Jadranka Juresko-Kero, in her article about possible presidential candidates, emphasises as highly essential qualification Grabar-Kitarovic’s “thorough understanding of international political relations and the causal relationship between politics and the economy, which she has gained through her roles as Croatia’s former foreign affairs minister, Croatia’s Ambassador to the US and as currently highly positioned NATO Assistant Secretary for Public Diplomacy.” Grabar-Kitarovic possesses, therefore, the important qualifications without which a future president of Croatia could not lead the country into realising what it, in 1990, except freedom it already has, set out to achieve: a full democracy and prosperity or an acceptable or good standard of living for all citizens.
Croatia does not need a president like Zeljka Markic, and especially not when we see that regarding her qualifications Vecernji List journalist Ivica Sola relies almost solely on her ability to attract a large numbers of voters to sign for the referendum on family (that marriage is a union between a man and a woman to be inserted into the Constitution) held in 2013. Incidentally, truthfully, gathering a large number of signatories to a referendum whose question threatens, if they do not vote, the fundamental values people in a predominantly Catholic country hold about the family or marriage structure is not a reflection of the organiser’s skills – the people will largely come off their own bat. This would also be the view of those who live in same sex relationships, who are, after all, someone’s sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, parents …
Croatia does not need a next president like Ivo Josipovic (the current incumbent). Vecernji List journalist Marko Biocina, in his article, emphasizes (as an important characteristic for a future president) that Josipovic has been a person who “during the past four years has consistently been the only relevant domestic politician who has tried to achieve peace, not quarrels, between people”! Well, does Croatia really need another presidential mandate of a person who tries but does not succeed? Surely not! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)