Croatian Political Left Scavenging Over Conservative Terrain: Can Seven Year Itch Play

Zoran Milanovic Croatian Prime Minister and Leader of Social Democrats

Zoran Milanovic
Croatian Prime Minister and
Leader of Social Democrats

 

2015 will most likely see the seventh parliamentary elections since the parliament was inaugurated in May 1990. If it doesn’t, then the beginning of 2016 will. In an analogy with a relationship between a man and a woman, if I think of each parliamentary mandate as representing one year in the relationship between the people and the government then, as far as general elections are concerned in Croatia, we are in the year of the so-called “seven year itch”. That’s a time known as a time of potential crisis when one is said to traditionally take stock of one’s relationship and decides whether it’s what one really wants or not.

What has this got to do with Croatian elections, you might ask? Well – everything, I think.
Croatian electorate is split and voter crisis is looming. Time is likely to arrive when some (perhaps a significant number in election results term) traditionally left-voters will turn right and vice versa.

The left oriented Social Democrats that lead the current government and the right oriented Croatian Democratic Union that leads the opposition, with their coalition partner parties, are splitting the electorate virtually into two equal halves. Leaders of both – Zoran Milanovic/Social Democrats and Timislav Karamarko/Croatian Democratic Union – have come out equally as “the most negative” politicians in some opinion polls over the past several months. Both sides of politics attract demons from their governing past blamed for the critical state of the economy and the increasing poverty.

 

It would seem that the Social Democrats have recognised the looming election results crisis where results between two leading parties will be so close that even a handful of single votes (swinging votes) will make the difference between loss and victory and are set to tip their sights onto the conservative side of political orientation in order to attempt winning over some of the traditionally conservative voters. On Saturday, 8 August 2015, Social Democrats with their leader Zoran Milanovic have announced and indicated to their intention of forming a coalition or starting some form of (electoral) cooperation with the Authentic Croatian Peasant Party – a socially conservative party that bases its foundations on the work of Croatia’s great leader Stjepan Radic (shot in 1928 in parliament in Serbia by Serb nationalist as representative of Croatia and died from the wounds days later).
While the reaction from the Authentic Croatian Peasant Party to this Social Democrat idea has so far been one of irony – such as its president Branko Hrg saying “the way he has started, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic might become a member of some right-wing option…if the hunt for small political parties is so great then there must be panic within the governing coalition…” – one cannot discount as electorally insignificant the Social Democrat government minister and Deputy Prime Minister laying a wreath on Friday, with much media pomp and ceremony – at Stjepan Radic’s tomb for the 87th anniversary of his death.

 

 

Tomislav Karamarko Leader of HDZ Croatian Democratic Union

Tomislav Karamarko
Leader of HDZ
Croatian Democratic Union

Tomislav Karamarko, leader of Croatian Democratic Union, has commented on this Social Democrats’ stepping into the traditionally conservative, right-winged political terrain, as “an expression of nervousness and insecurities of HDZ’s and its coalitions’ political opponents…”.

Indeed that may be so, SDP may be nervous, but judging by the palpable polarisation within the Croatian electorate (50-50 almost) between left and right, it stands to reason that in order to win at the next elections a political party vying for office must consider more aggressively the issues that affect the entire electorate rather than predominantly those that affect the part of the electorate sympathetic to it! And that may well be what the Social Democrats are doing: getting closer to the other side (?). If that is so and if they are “nervous and insecure” then their moves towards the conservative terrain could in fact be seen by some as “fight” not “flight”. If they succeed in getting even a minor party from the conservative side into their coalition then Social Democrats may be perceived in a positive light as “fighters” to stay in power. This positive light may translate into positive votes.

The job for Croatian Democratic Union will then be to demonstrate to the electorate how “a wolf (Social Democrats) loses its fur but never its habits”! How superficial and insincere any coalition of former/current Yugoslav communists is with any political party whose history rests on relentless rejection of any form of domination within any form of Yugoslavia (of Serb-monarchy or Yugoslav communist).
Many will say that voters fail to vote because they are not well enough informed or concerned and major party may count on that so that party-loyal voter-recruitment becomes optimally effective upon the final election result.
In a democracy, responsible voters, however, evaluate what has been done or what has happened in the past four years and make judgments. And I would like to think that the democracy in Croatia has reached such an advanced stage where the voters are concerned with results (of government work) only, not with policy promises. Human beings simply find it easier to look at what has gone on in the past to see what may happen in the future.
A rational voter only needs to know ‘if the shoe is pinching’; and, if so, who is causing it to pinch,” said once the reputable American political scientist Valdimer O. Key.

Social Democrats in Croatia are only too aware that they are the ones whose government is causing “the shoe to pinch”. Unemployment is horrendous, young people leaving Croatia in search for jobs in record and alarming numbers; investment climate hopeless due to rigid red tape and bureaucracy; homelessness and poverty on the rise to distressing levels…politically divided population where anger and discontent against those underplaying Croatian interests in the face of communist-Yugoslavia-nostalgia is often the issue causing unrest. Perceived inadequacy in political leaders to defend the Croatian truth and Croatia’s suffering at the hands of Serb aggressor in the 1990’s still occupies much of the circumstances that will surround and populate the coming election climate. Social Democrats’ attempts to encroach through various forms of coalition or cooperation upon the politically conservative territory is not to be taken lightly, or dismissed as some kind of a political whim without possible consequence. Such attempts do have the potential of causing voters to swing even if only because of some minor gesture from a politician that may touch their “voting” heart – swinging voters or those susceptible to opinion change are the fodder for political scavengers.

 
Certainly, with the electorate split almost in equal halves between Croatian Democratic Union/HDZ and Social Democrat support (and this was clearly demonstrated at the presidential elections in January 2015 when victory came at a rather nail-bitingly narrow margin), assuming the same number of voter turnout, swinging voters or those who can be convinced to vote differently will rein in the next government of Croatia. The swinging voter will be moved to vote by how he/she thinks a political ideology (election program) will affect him/her and his/her family. Ideology is of little consequence to a swinging voter and these are increasingly growing in number as Croatia progresses deeper into democratic reality. The times have come when elections are about real values that translate into real lives, better living standards. Much work for election success still lies ahead for political parties in Croatia. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Comments

  1. So much truth in your article. As commendable and well-meant as party-lines can be, they often lead to unfortunate decisions and separate people who may have the same goal, despite party affiliations.
    I hope as many swing voters as possible will decide to get informed and then vote.

    Like

    • Thank you, Christoph – politicians do get into all kinds of unsavoury moves to win votes and I too hope voters will recognise the good from the bad or the deserving from undeserving

      Liked by 1 person

  2. To have the red party that stems from the former Yugoslav Communist party collaborating for elections with “Stjepan Radic’s party” would be the ultimate insult tp the Croatian independence. Stjepan Radiuc died for it and Social Democrats walked out of the Croatian Parliament when in 1991 it was to vote for secession from communist Yugoslavia. The very idea is sickening but sickness can creep into elections so keep a good watch everyone and save Creoatia from total humiliation with Social Democrats

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  3. Wilkinson says:

    When either political side starts looking to the other for votes you know nervousness and insecurities are afoot – Tomislav Karamarko has divulged no secret there. But you rightly say, Ina, one needs to open eyes widely as effects can be devastating for one and beneficial for the other side

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  4. Mason Orr says:

    Never underestimate the one who is willing to compromise own reputation to get results. Power is addictive and fight to keep it can be devouring in more ways than one.

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  5. Fingers crossed many voters will see what hasn’t worked so far and will along with swing voters call for a party as far from the old Communist regimes as possible.
    Croatia made the break away from the old Communist Yugoslavia for a reason, they need to keep moving in the same direction. Time for someone to make sure the voters are well informed before the date of elections is posted.
    xxx Huge Hugs Ina xxx

    Like

  6. Stevie10703 says:

    I am not sure this is the real Hrvatska Seljacka Stranka as its just another political party with the same name only something else added to it. I believe they called themselves Aktualna Hrvatska Seljacka Stranka and from what I understand they have nothing to do with the actual HSS. Its like Hrvatska Stranka Prava and then you have Hrvatska Stranka Prava-Ante Starcevic, and Hrvatska Cista Stranka Prava, and two or three others with the Stranka Prava name.

    People need to look at the issues and ask have their lives been better with the “Kukuriku” coalition running the country. People are leaving the country, the PDV is at 25% which is much too high, unemployment is about as high as the PDV and in both cases that is not good at all. If they feel this is ok then you vote for the status quo if you feel that it isn’t then you vote for a change but, this change better not be business as usual and the people in charge better work hard and make the right changes. They also need to cut government spending as well or we will end up being Greece Part II in the not to distant future.

    IMO, I don’t care if you are right or left but as long as you have Hrvatska’s best interest in your heart then that’s what its all about. The problem is, the people running the country don’t and they go out of their way on spitting on anything that is Croatian. if you’re patriotic and proud then you are their enemy but if you hate Croatia then you are their friends. People get are getting sick of this as well…how many people are sick of seeing people like Oliver Frljic who is getting paid by the taxpayers while he spits on Croatia and those that defended here. To them, we are the lowest of the low and that’s what sickening.

    We also need to have strong leadership who will stand up to the threats of our neighbors who are now pumping up their people inside Hrvatska once again. You listen to their rhetoric and it sounds like late 80’s and early 90’s all over again and our leaders sit back and keep quiet and say nothing. Luka Misetic was right when he said that in Croatia when a hooligan yells “Ubi Srbina” (Kill a Serb) they are still a hooligan while with the neighbors those hooligans that yell, “Ubi Hrvata I Muslimana” (Killa a Croat and a Muslim) are elected as President and he forgot Prime Minister. Let’s not forget as well their students who the other day held a rally and threatened Croatia and Croatians yet again and talking about getting back Vukovar and Knin and the 1/3 of Croatian territory they occupied and uniting it with Serbia. we need a leader that can stick up for Croatia.

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    • Yes good points, Stevie, however the Authentic Croatian Peasant Party (Autohtona Hrvatska Seljacka Stranka) is a legitimate political party even if it is small in numbers but it is there nevertheless and in this context of the Reds wanting to get into a coalition with it has a much greater potential in affecting the voters’ minds than what the size of that party represents. Hence, the need to reveal the Reds’ dirty tactics designed only to win them voters, not to change people’s lives for the better

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      • Great article. Interesting commentary.

        Sorry to bother you about this but:
        Cro = Autohtona Hrvatska Seljačka Stranka
        Eng = Indigenous Croatian Peasant Party
        Not
        Eng = Authentic Croatian Peasant Party
        Cro = Autentična Hrvatska Seljačka Stranka

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      • Ah thank you Josip, was looking through Google how others had used the name in English (more looking for “s spirit”of language in meaning rather than verbatim translation and found Authentic to be used e,g. total-croatia-news site…perhaps indigenous didn’t ring right with me but say “natural”or “original” as synonyms would 🙂 Hm, I will need to change it then in my text which is fine

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      • Stevie10703 says:

        Yes, they will do anything to win votes. Remember, these people have been painting anyone who loves Croatia as a “fascist” and now suddenly the reds are patriots and domoljubs. Its quite comical but the problem is, the left controls the media and the media does their bidding. This Seljacka Stranka that is getting into a coalition with SDP has nothing to do with the real HSS which the head of the HSS said he wasn’t getting into any coalition with SDP. The problem is, when you see the media reports on it you would think that SDP got into an actual coalition with the HSS when the reality is its the AHSS they got into a coalition with.

        My only wish is that HDZ had a better person leading them than Karamarko who doesn’t come across as a sympathetic figure. I almost wish that Kolinda was the head of that party simply because I think they would have run away with the upcoming elections later in the year or early in the new year.

        Like

  7. Down with the commies, Zoran cig.. milanovic u need to go asap
    your time is up, kill communism once and for all…go run serb zoran, seeing that everything u do is for the serbs, not for the Croatian people, enough is enough long live Croatia
    ZAP

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  8. ante saric says:

    No need to worry. HDZ in a landslide.
    As for the SDP turn to the right. Well, too little too late. Anyway, we have seen this film before: nationalism+socialism=nacizam.
    A bit of a irony considering the fanantical “anti-fascism” of the SDP.
    The electorate just has to put its antipathy toward Karamarko and focus on policies. Particularly those relating to jobs and growth.
    The HDZ strategy of employing German experts to help Croatia reform its economy is borderline genius. It should have been 25 years ago.
    Germany is the most successful nation on earth and we have so much to learn from the best.
    The fact that tens of thousands of Croatians have succeeded in Germany shows it can be done in the Croatia as well.
    Fatherland (Germany) +Motherland (Croatia) = Victory

    Like

  9. Milanovic is a sick manipulator.
    Were he alive when Stjepan Radic was assassinated in the Belgrade parliament in 1928, Milanovic and his ilk would have been cheering.

    Like

  10. I emailed you some pictures of Mia Slavenska from my grandmother’s book of Ballet. Let me know if you don’t receive them and I will try another method to share with you !

    Like

  11. ..don’t trust these sleazy communists!..”the ends justify the means!” Bad Vlad Lenin
    …vote for the HDZ this time, as there is really no alternative against the Byzantine Serbs! But, at least put in a responsible leader of the HDZ this time! When that damn Sanader walked out on Croatia in 2008, the whole country could have of collapsed! He should have been given the guillotine necklace!

    Like

    • Never liked Sanader, never will, Tempus Fugit – as to HDZ deserving to win at elections the public will need to see more of “can do” from them, the communists or Social Democrats have shown they “can’t do” so little contest there but still things run very tight

      Like

  12. Added your great post to Ace News Room and also your magazine l set-up regards Ian

    Like

  13. I don’t really like this, but it is an informative post. With all of the financial and political problems in almost every country of the world, including mine, is what is happening in Croatia part of the harsh reality we find in today’s world? Most countries are falling apart to some degree. What do you think? Hugs, Barbara

    Like

    • Surely enough, Barbara, Croatia shares in the worldwide political mess and treachery as politicians there are as eager to keep their positions as anywhere, however, much of the dislike and fear felt towards Croatian Left stems from the fact that they all stem directly from the former Yugoslav communist party, still mourn Yugoslavia and have not embraced true values and actions that defend and feed Croatian independence and its facets and needs. It’s also falling apart because much corruption has seen to significant depletion of state assets through corrupt privatisation proceeds from which were under the value and not used to advance “local” industry and infrastructure etc. Big Hugs XXXX

      Like

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