Croatia: Blatant Communist Style Intimidation In Presidential Campaigning

Presidential candidate Ivo Josipovic Photo: Screetshot HRT TV

Presidential candidate Ivo Josipovic
Photo: Screetshot HRT TV

 

At and around election times anything and everything is possible. After all – it is a race the results of which are largely determined by the ordinary person, the voter. Although the official campaigns for presidential elections in Croatia (reportedly to be held 11 January 2015) have not commenced, for months now, the pre-campaigns of the three (known) candidates have accelerated fiercely and brought about in eyes of many, particularly those living in the democracies of the West, the frame in which one senses that Croatia has little chance of living a true and full democracy any time soon. This is blatantly clear and obvious when the head of Croatia – the President Ivo Josipovic – goes on television and purposefully misrepresents democracy and democratic rights of expression and freedom of association to a nation widely unexposed and uniformed about democracy, but a nation that is still under the impression or the mindset created during communist Yugoslavia, which tends to make people believe that what a leader says – is right!

Only a few days ago Josipovic appeared on a TV show in which he characterised freedom of expression and the rich variety of sources offering information, opinion, statements…about presidential election candidates as defamation and defamatory attacks, and, gave the explicit impression that freedom of association (support etc) was a bad thing.

Translation of what he said: “Ivo Josipovic: …defamation. I think that is not good, but I need to warn that there are some candidates who have the guard that they’ll do everything nicely but there is a whole regiment of collaborators, friends, supporters who through various portals, media, newspapers, in reality vomit black tint. And that is crypto-democracy and that is crypto blackening of the opponent and I see that public sees that and recognises that.

Question: there have been some such attempts to use defamation to introduce black tint into the pre-campaigning, do you expect that during the real campaign there will be serious political attacks and hits that come beneath the level od democratic ones?

Ivo Josipovic: well see, outside these mainstream media a lot is happening, look at Dnevno (www.dnevno.hr) , then look at Udarno (www.udarno.com) then look at … I don’t know what those portals are called, you’ll see and read the worst of things …traitor, this and that and what else not about family, friends, that is the worst type of defamation…look even a book has been published about me, the Red President, you saw there were lots of people there, a whole panel was dedicated to slinging mud, I consider that politically irrelevant just like I do the daily statements by one of the opposing candidates that are disappointing, that discourse of insult, politicising in the dirty sense … so there is no relevance and the elections will show that.”

Not only does Josipovic seem stupid here – for there is nothing crypto (hidden, secret or concealed) in articles written and published about a candidate or in support of another in numerous outlets but he presumes here that a candidate controls everything that is to be said or done about them or in support of them by media at large, while they themselves “pretend” to be nice etc. Well, perhaps he speaks from personal experience in the communist underground, where control is the modus operandi and free speech or expression is an unknown or an undesirable?

Besides utterly wrongly (without legal proof of defamation) pointing the finger at certain media outlets in terms of defamation here, his action reminds one of the communist-style intimidation during the years of former Yugoslavia where those labeled as defamers, without trial or court of law deliberations were in fact jailed, frequently in the Goli Otok prison where his own father is said to have been the governor for quite some time, or their business put out of business. It is of no wonder that this particular TV appearance by Josipovic was construed, with utter horror, as a threat to have the media outlets mentioned – closed.

It is easy but totally deplorable, from the position of President or power, to manipulate masses that are rather uninformed and uneducated on matters of democracy, including that which guides as to when something can be called defamation and when it cannot. Calling something defamation when it is not or it has not be proven to be so in a court of law as the law requires, is just as bad as engaging in defamation. Such type of indirect but nevertheless devastating intimidation from political and government leaders is something Croatians must fight against tooth and nail. One can expect and forgive an ordinary person to call something defamation when it has not been tested in court of law as such, but one cannot expect nor forgive such behaviour from a lawyer and president of a democratic state that is supposed to be ruled by law at every instance.

Relevant to the above TV appearance, defamation would mean making or publishing of false statements about a candidate. The relevant law on defamation in Croatia says that defamation is when a person publishes a falsehood, as true fact about someone, knowing it to be false. But then, the ordinary citizen of Croatia is not likely to rush into finding out what legally constitutes defamation and what does not – and Josipovic knows that very well. And defamation is a strong word; one that associates undesirable qualities of the one said to have engaged in defamation. Hence, the only conclusion I can draw from this appalling TV appearance is that the ground under Josipovic’s electoral feet is shaken and is shaking severely and he will stop at nothing to save his political hide – even try and convince the Croatian voters that telling the truth in public’s interest is defamation and punishable, when it comes to matters published about him (he does not mention any defamation against any other candidate and indeed plays hard to appear as victim of foul play). He is trying to tell the public that it’s a bad and unwelcome thing to have lots of sources of information; to have the situation where a great number of citizens are engaged in the political or election debate upon which their own future depends! Very, very nasty! As president of a democratic state he should only be too happy that there are many and diverse outlets for information and opinion – but he is expressly bothered about that! That is sad for democracy, sad for Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Comments

  1. Under the Representation of the People Act 1983 in UK there are criminal penalties in place for those convicted of making or publishing false statements about election candidates. This is to protect the democratic process and is in addition to the general, civil law on libel (which must obviously also be observed when reporting elections). The Act’s criminal offences only apply from the time that formal notice is given that an election is to take place until the point at which the election ends. This is around five weeks for local government elections. And this is fair and democratic because the law defines what is and what is not defamation and to be labeled as such the claim must be tested in court of law. While defamation “vomits black ink” as Josipovic puts it, so does accusation of defamation without it being declared as such in court of law. The man Josipovic seems like losing his marbles or is fundamentally one of those political bullies we thought we’d get rid of in moving away from communism…I would like to think that the law of defamation is not unlike the law on similar matter in other democracies.

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    • Evidently, Wilkinson, Josipovic is capable of a whole lot of things that are undemocratic. He should serve as a role model of democracy, instead, that seems to be the last thing on his mind in this instance. What seems to be on his mind is accusing others of “vomiting black tint”, when in fact he is doing exactly that. I guess it’s not for nothing that he has been referred to or nicknamed as the “Squid” by a good part of Croatian public…

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      • Ina, did you hear about 4 young people arrested in Split for putting up posters which Josipović found defamatory????

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      • Yes I read about it, Unimatrix – it does not surprise given Josipovic’s communist predisposition that doesn’t tolerate the truth very much if that truth isn’t nice for them. Hopefully there will be no defamation found because as I understand the posters just reiterated reality or events that actually happened. I would have thought that once the official campaign starts nothing can be construed as defamatory in a political campaign etc but we are likely to be in for a bumpy ride with Yusipovic

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  2. Freedom of association is the gem of democracy and here comes Josipovic who criticizes all that support, follow etc a candidate… i.e. friends, portals, media etc. Oh man, this is worrying, indeed

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    • Josipovic has been there for too long, Mark Ivko and is off the democracy path, that much is evident and one wonders how can people who don’t know different see that. Some fast-track education of the public would be good, I think

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  3. When a man is raised in a communist family and environment what can one expect except a typical communist mindset.

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    • True, Margaret – but a President of a democratic state must at least try to be seen as trying to correct the errors of undemocratic past and he is not doing that. That is distressing to watch, let alone to live under

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  4. Michelle Maria says:

    I think ppl believe what they want to believe, many ppl in Croatia hold nostalgic strings to a corrupt era, that is why this transition is taking longer then normal, Stockholm syndrome is so ripe that they glory in their own self destruction.. not to worry even the toughest get sick of beating their heads against brick walls eventually, its becoming clear that life is not a free ride and every step and inaction breeds a consequence.

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    • Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with them. So right there, Michelle – there’s much of that in Croatia as well as many children or grandchildren who idolised their fathers, grandfathers for their role in the communist Yugoslavia – they’re not about to drop that “glory” for a better future for all – their’s is much secured through the rather high social status they’ve inherited from from their recent ancestors…the “penny will drop” soon, I think but not all by iotself, we must work at that, for truth’s sake

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  5. Negative advertising is a vital part of democratic debate. IJ will create a great story about himself but someone needs to give a rebuttal and assess the truth of his self-promotion.

    I am for clean attack ads that look at policies and past actions. Mudslinging and character assassination based on lies IS a bad thing and is not needed. We do need truth.

    See my video on negative advertising

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  6. Ina. Let me first thank you for visiting our news site and the likes, very much appreciated.

    Also this is a great post would love to feature it on our Ace News Room http://acenewsroom.net/ for Featured Writers, with all attributions back to you and a page linked back to your blog.

    Let me know how you feel about this?

    Regards, Ian

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  7. Croatians need to vote every leftover Communist out of office. In our contemporary world, forms of democracy is what will give people continued freedom. If Russia and China wish to remain Communist, they can. But stop trying to force Communism down people’s throats. Hugs, Barbara

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  8. Are there any websites in Croatia that during elections gage the truthfulness of candidate advertising, speeches and other claims and statements? In canada and the USA there are non partisan organizations and credible news media that do this type of thing – sometime they call it keeping them honest. If Croatia does not have this it should. Voters need to be able to check facts and accuracy of politicians and election candidates. A truthfulness reprint should be issued that grades all the candidates. This is certainly a worthy effort and one with enormous benefit for Croatia…

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    • That should read report card.

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    • Sunman, I would call such sites: Keeping the Bastards Honest.I am not aware of one there and I doubt the government would fund it, although it should so it would be up to private enterprise and, who knows, perhaps something of the nature just might pop up

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      • I don’t think a project like that would need government funding…in fact, it should steer as clear of government involvement as possible, even when dealing with “good” politicians. But it is a fantastic idea that could definitely be of enormous benefit if developed by the right people. My first thought was, what if this project was developed by individuals from the diaspora?

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      • Your thought are in the right direction, Kat 🙂

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  9. …what is likely to happen in Croatia is as follows…..
    1.) The idiotic Croatians vote back into power Josipovic in January 2015.
    2.) in time, the Croatian economy collapses and total bankruptcy
    looms.
    3.) Tens of thousands of Croatians (being brain dead anyway)
    vote with their feet (as they have for 150 years) and permanently leave Croatia….empty Dalmatian villages and Lika too!
    4.) The serbians (being the best politicians in the world-BAR NONE) come back and takeover these abandoned villages.
    5.) The serbians declare and annex these territories to Serbia,(including the newly acquired Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Banat)
    6.) The serbs declare a 3rd Jugoslavia (aka Greater Serbia) and then they can laugh at the stupid Croatian people and politcians, and the unbelievably stupid Roman Catholic Church (after they destroy every church anyway) and they could do ALL of this WITHOUT firing a shot!
    …but at least the Serbians KILL their traitors!

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    • Hopefully, Tempus Fugit, the damage communist Yugoslavia has done to the ordinary citizen’s drive and motivation to drive change is devastating still but somehow I like to believe that the younger generation will step up to the mark and make it better

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  10. Josipovic and his communist ilk are mentally deranged quite frankly and should be committed. They live in a parallel universe of lies and deceit. They are from the same ‘school’ as people like Putin. Same behaviour. Same tactics. In Zagreb this past September, at the launch of the book ‘Hrvatski Velikani’ – Great Croatians – by prof. Skoko, Josipovic had the gall to say: “Only a nation that knows its past has a future. We must make a special effort in our collective consciousness to retain those who have contributed to our future.”
    Pretty ironic coming from a person who has denied anything in Croatia’s past that condemns Tito and the crimes of his Partisans, Communist, and Chetnik collaborators. Ironic talking about knowing a nation’s past when he has chosen to ignore all that does not appeal to his selective Communist sensibilities. Sadly too, he knows that much of the population is either utterly misinformed, misguided by a state-run media, apathetic or browbeaten, to actually react decisively.

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  11. Ante Saric says:

    BINGO…….Correct answer on all six points Tempus Fugit.

    You have to give credit where credit is due. Our Serb neighbours are absolutely world class players when it comes to Realpolitik.

    No matter what crimes they commit they always seem to come up trumps.

    The best example was WW1. They started it. Got absolutely creamed by the German army. Yet they were rewarded with by the “victorious” Allies with at Versailles.

    They did it again in WW2. Yugoslavia collapsed in 6 days. The Serbs were defeated militarily. Once again, like a Phoenix, they rose from the ashes to dominate the Balkans a second time.

    In 1990, The Serbs once again ignited the Balkans. This time they committed all their crimes live on prime time TV.

    Murder of innocent civilians, rape as a weapon of war, attacks on cities such as Dubrovnik, Sarajevo and Vukovar to name but a few. It was a masterclass.

    On the Croatian side, Despite 100 years of continuous defeats, we still don’t get it.

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  12. Just wish to add that the Serbs must be laughing all the way to the blood bank watching Croatia totally self-destructing now.

    It reminds me of Hitler’s attack on France. Hitler was no hawk. He was a vulture. He killed off what was already dying. Whether it was the French Republic, Stalin’s Russia or Yugoslavia.

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