High Noon in Croatia – No Political Levelling Please!

Croatian Flag Clenched Fist Adaptation of photo by zazzle.com (Screenshot)

Croatian Flag Clenched Fist
Adaptation of photo by zazzle.com (Screenshot)


The legendary 1950’s Hollywood actor  – Gary Cooper – and film crew won 4 Oscars at 1953 Academy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards for “High Noon”. The movie tells the story of a town marshal forced to face a group of killers by himself, a lone man who does the right thing at the risk of his own life.

High NoonPerhaps comparing the current attempt, i.e. the pending meeting called by Most (“Bridge”) coalition at Noon on Monday 7 December, to form a new government in Croatia to the significance of “High Noon” movie (indications are that the one who does not attend the meeting will be cast out of negotiations to form the new government) is not entirely a good match with the facts there are those in Croatia who have done so, albeit cynically as well as with a good dose of satire. The Bridge coalition of independent lists that won crucial 19 seats (currently the coalition counts 15 as 3 have fallen away due to disagreements) have been placed in the position to negotiate with both centre-right HDZ and centre-left SDP coalitions to form the new government. The only problem, it seems, is that Bridge coalition is sticking to its election campaign promises of serious and sweeping reforms for Croatia (overhaul the public sector and judiciary, and reduce taxation pressure on businesses as well as fiscal imbalances…) and seems to lack the decisive elements of consensus and compromise that are so very important in any conflict management and resolution.


The Bridge coalition wants a government of unity: a government comprising of representatives from HDZ(Croatian Democratic Union centre-right coalition), SDP (Social Democratic Party centre-left coalition) and the Bridge but working on the reforms packaged by the Bridge, without – it seems – some crucial elements from HDZ and SDP’s electoral promises! In other words, the Bridge coalition gives the strong impression that it does not trust either HDZ or SDP to lead a new government as majority in a government caucus or that it cares much about the fact that Croatian voters did actually gave more votes to HDZ and SDP promises than what they did to the Bridge promises.

The Bridge coalition is sticking to a proposal of a tripartite government – a cauldron of trouble, political disagreements and without clear lines of political responsibility and governmental accountability! Why anyone would want to impose such a troublesome formula for the makeup of the government of their country is beyond my understanding even if Croatia is in a crisis and at the brink of economic collapse, despite the lining of some wallets with Euro funds.


High Noon has also been portrayed in dictionaries as a phrase meaning “the time of a decisive confrontation or contest”. So, given that Bridge coalition has set a meeting with both HDZ and SDP at Noon on Monday 7 December to possibly achieve agreement in forming the new government of unity for Croatia, with all political sides, friends and foes alike, as members, one does wonder whether the Bridge’s sense for the dramatic or Hollywood style climax has actually stepped into the realms of delusions of grandeur or, worse, communist style of political levelling or egalitarianism as long as one political mind rules the roost. Has the Bridge coalition placed itself into the position of playing God for Croatia’s future (or kingmaker, at least) and if so what would be its avenues for justice (as in “vengeance in mine”) against those who have “sinned” against Croatian independence, democracy, economic prosperity and/or living standards? Surely it could not reward those sinners it campaigned against (e.g. SDP government as having caused much of Croatia’s woes) by placing them all around the joint government table!

Left: Tomislav Karamarko, leader of HDZ Centre: Bozo Petrov, leader of Bridge group Right: Zoran Milanoivic, leader of SDP PHOTO: metkovic-news.com

Left: Tomislav Karamarko, leader of HDZ
Centre: Bozo Petrov, leader of Bridge group
Right: Zoran Milanoivic, leader of SDP
PHOTO: metkovic-news.com

Certainly the general elections results where HDZ won 59 and SDP 56 out of 151 seats suggest strongly that Croatian voters do not want changes, not earth-shattering ones as forming a tripartite government would suggest. The Bridge coalition’s idea of such a reformist government places the Bridge coalition ambitiously as a real bridge that would unite the political left and the political right into a single task: shaping Croatia in accordance with the Bridge coalition ideas for change! The major problem with this is that in a democracy and a politically competitive climate that is an inherent right within a democracy, the Bridge coalition is attempting to cut-off these rights of political competition at the knees; do away with political pluralism! In true democracies “power should be dispersed among a variety of economic and ideological pressure groups and should not be held by a single elite or group of elites,” says Encyclopaedia Britannica. Furthermore, if a tripartite government is installed in Croatia who is going to be the Opposition in the parliament? How can a government be independent of governing powers held to account, how can new ideas (ideas the government does not come up with) and changes be brought to the parliament floor, how can there be healthy parliamentary debate – if there is no significant Parliamentary Opposition?

The Bridge coalition may have some good ideas as to how to achieve reforms they believe are needed in Croatia but just because it has won enough seats in parliament at the elections to be THE decisive entity that could form the new government, that does not give it the right to play with or ignore the fundamental rights and processes of democracy for which thousands lost their lives in the 1990’s War of Independence for Croatia. Certainly, to me, the idea of a tripartite government that includes an overwhelming majority of political parties, each differing from the other in their crucial ideas, that are supposed to work in harmony has many hallmarks of the former Communist party blanket principle where everyone had to conform to the central idea or be considered a political dissident/enemy of the State!

On Thursday 3 December Croatia moved closer to holding a new election when parliament convened for the first time after an inconclusive vote on 8 November and its SDP-nominated Speaker, Robert Podolnjak (member of the Bridge coalition), withdrew his nomination on grounds that he did not have cross-party support (HDZ did not support his nomination).
The two big parties (HDZ and SDP) have each so far failed in negations with the Bridge coalition on forming a new coalition government and Noon Monday 7 December will be the crunch to decide as to when new elections are to be held. President Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic has called for a second round of consultations in the afternoon of 7 December with all elected parties in her keenness to have a new government formed, but given that her first attempts wasn’t successful and nothing much has changed – her consultations are unlikely to succeed.
If the government is not formed soon, the Croatia’s president will have to call new elections.
Whoever wins the support of at least 76 deputies will become prime minister designate and of course both SDP and HDZ are hoping to achieve this without the offered option of being ushered into a tripartite solution for new government.
It is unclear when the parliament will convene again.
Croatia’s public debt is alarmingly close to 90 % of GDP and employment is at 17%, with 43% Youth unemployment. The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund want the next government to reduce debt and barriers to investment, notably in the private sector.

I hope the Bridge coalition does not succeed in its attempt to kill the democratic debate in the Croatian parliament by forming a tripartite government. I hope new elections are held soon and if the voters give this new Bridge coalition more votes to form a majority government – so be it. But, if the results go in favour of one of the two major coalition blocs (HDZ or SDP) – so be it, too! In politics the concept akin to levelling (known as “uravnilovka” in Croatia or Russian or …where, in this case, all political sides supposedly get the equal right and skill to decide or contribute to government) seems to be protruding from the Bridge coalition’s insistence on a unity or tripartite government. Levelling was/is an operational concept of communist regimes, trying to make everyone equal but ended up creating wider differences between the rich and the poor than thought possible – I would loathe seeing levelling being given a new lease of life in Croatia (it has a life in communist Yugoslavia) – this time within the realm of democratic debate by having the debate cut under the pretence that political friends and foes can govern together in harmony! Desperate times do call for desperate measures but this idea coming from the Bridge coalition to form a unity government and deny Croatia a strong parliamentary opposition is mad and dangerous for democracy in action.  Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)


  1. Stevie10703 says:

    My feeling is that Bridge did take away a lot of the votes from HDZ rather than SDP and I honestly feel that if HDZ had someone better than Karamarko as the head of the party, they would have won this election hands down and controlled the Sabor. Karmarko is a wet suit with no people skills, he doesn’t come off as a charismatic leader and IMO, doesn’t act any differently than Milanovic does and that’s not saying much because Milanovic is an imbecile. I think its time for a new election and hopefully the people will vote smartly.

    • I reckon some smartening-up of key figures wouldn’t go astray, also – Stevie. I can sense a slight improvement in the ease of “deportment” and communication of Karamarko but I think he could do with shaving off some of the characters around him in HDZ. New elections would bring a definite sign of the direction Croatian voters want to go in. On the other hand, Milanovic and SDP have no room for improvement -0 they are over the edge of madness with no prospects of sanity, really. I hope we will hear of the date for new elections during the coming week.

  2. Such complicated lives us humans create. I hope with you for democracy which I have always believed in. Unless the USA elects Donald Trump.
    Oh what messes we humans make.
    I hope for you and for peace and justice everywhere.

    • One truly shakes ones head in disbelief at times like these, Cindy, and wonders why humans can’t seem to get even the simplest of decent democracy rules

  3. As good as the suggestion sound in theory to have free votes without party whip, it seems dangerous in effect (inconclusive votes and policies that contradict each other).
    Idealistic but irresponsible 🙁
    I hope there will be a solution or election soon 🙂

    • May have something there, Christoph, but as we have seen time and time again no parliament can function properly without a good dose of threat of being voted out the next time around and opposition is usually there to keep them on their toes or “keep the bastards honest” as it was once said in relation to parliament in Australia but can be applied to any parliament in a democracy 🙂

  4. New elections are the only answer. They will show whether the voters truly want change or not. While the Most coalition has its ideas that are good, but others have good ones also, it does strike one truly odd watching Most deal the future as if they had sucked in all the wisdom of the world. Not a pretty sight at all.

    • I concur, Marko – the madness created by the results of 8 November elections cannot possibly bring anything harmonious or lastingly good. Even if a deal is struck to form a government, bad blood will run through it until it’s overthrown

  5. Steve Renko says:

    From Facebook: Ina Vukic is not right with this opinion. Her opinions have the fragrance of sour milk, sour grapes and plenty of reckless negativism. There is a serious lack of self esteem and what is really good for Croatia. “MOST” is very good for Croatia. The other two major parties, the so called HDZ and the maybe Socialists have met their match. Croatia just doesn’t get it.

    • Oh dear Steve Renko, I wish you pay more attention to reading. My criticism is not of Most per se, indeed I did say that if the voters give Most the majority in new elections so be it, my point is that Most wants everyone to be in government and therefore effectively killing parliamentary debate and push for change that comes with Opposition. That is a fact and not negativism. If you can prove that a parliament without a strong opposition can be a robust democratic parliament I will withdraw my opinion but please don’t come up with parliaments in communist countries. No sour milk or or sour grapes here – only a wish for a healthy parliament that includes a strong government and a strong opposition. That is democracy after all, and Most should have told us how it thinks Opposition would work if they take in both the left and the right political parties who, by the way, won more seats than Most did. You would do well to get look at all this again without looking at Most, HDZ or SDP – just try and imagine how a healthy parliament would work under Most’s proposal. Not an easy task at all but, hey, I may be partially blind today and it will all be clear in a day or so.

  6. Ante Saric says:

    I have always advocated a grand coalition for Croatia. However, it is impossible now due to Zoran Milanovic and his sorrry excuse for a party.
    Croatia does not have a proper centre-left party. It is just a mish mash of partisan and communist maniacs who still think it is 1945 and not 2015.
    Zoran Milanovic lost this election despite all the cheerleading from the communist media. Looked from this point of view, the HDZ result was outstanding.
    Unfortunately, Karamarko will have to sacrifice his ambition of becoming Prime Minister in order to save the nation from another 4 years of depraved communist rule.
    Why is MOST speaking with the SDP anyway? They have nothing in common. SDP campaigned on maintaining the status quo. MOST for radical change. HDZ for moderate change.
    What MOST is advocating HDZ should have done 20 years ago but did not due to the fear of losing votes. So do a deal and get on with the job of reforming Croatia. Stop wasting time.

    • Good train of thought, Ante – your analysis is to the point and that way SDP can cry in opposition as much as it wants but changes that should have been brought in long ago would get done under HDZ/Most coalition. I don’t know why Most is talking to SDP but I think it could be to appear balanced and fair but I truly hope they give up the idea of “unity” or tripartite government – we won’t need pubs and bars in Croatia in that case as drunken madness would flow from the gates of Mark’s Square, government gates

  7. Thanks again Ina. I am just blown away by the lunacy in a tiny country of less than 5 million people….. A country where there are something like 100 + political parties. As a patriot, I am horrified to see SDPers and minorities in the Sabor, who basically hate, despise Croatia, war veterans, the electorate, and anything Croatian….sitting in power collecting rich pay cheques and screwing over the common man. It’s like Yugoslavia 1945 all over again after they killed and jailed hundreds of thousands of Croatian men, women and children. No wonder more than 2,000 + recent war veterans have taken their own lives in utter despair. They did not fight the Yugoslav army and the Serb war machine to have these Yugoslav/communist/chetniks in power AGAIN. I am forever disgusted with how many people in power there screw over the electorate and line their pockets. They would sell our their own mothers for money. What a bloody mad place. The land that common sense forgot. ‘Hrvatska – Puna Juda i Jada.’ ‘Croatia – full of Judas’ and Misery.’
    Until the young and old rise up and pour on the streets in protest like Ukraine’s Maidan, nothing, absolutely nothing will change in Croatia.

    • So agree with you Veronika, furthermore, what Bridge is suggesting the rotation of Prime Minister every two years between the two main political sides HDZ & SDP etc etc so reminds one of communist Yugoslavia after Tito died when they rotated the chair of presidency…

  8. It’s a way of dispelling and neutralizing a nationalistic sense -divide and conquer.

  9. Added your post in full here Ina High Noon in Croatia – No Political Levelling Please! | Ace News Room

  10. Thanks Ian – much appreciated 🙂


  1. […] HDZ or the centre-left SDP, has through its leader Bozo Petrov been insisting on forming a tripartite government, combining both HDZ and SDP and having a non-party member – a professional – Prime Minister! I […]

  2. […] HDZ or the centre-left SDP, has through its leader Bozo Petrov been insisting on forming a tripartite government, combining both HDZ and SDP and having a non-party member – a professional – Prime Minister! I […]

  3. […] Prime Minister – he, himself and the centre-right leader Tomislav Karamarko. He alluded to the electoral results that yielded the conservative HDZ 59 out of 151 seats and 53 out of 151 seats to Social Democrat […]

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