Having disbanded its government in June amidst scandals founded and unfounded, justified and unjustified, Croatia is up for snap general elections on 11 September.
If politics was a dodgem car platform then this time around election time has shaped into one messy pile-up in the so-called people’s corner with parties frantically pumping their accelerators but power is stuck on revving “me, me, me” and not budging anywhere, making the people at large increasingly sick of it all. I have lost count of the number of political parties and coalitions of allsorts, in the country of barely 5.5 million voters – counting those living abroad in the diaspora (living in Croatia probably 3.4 million voters).
Social Democrats centre-left party, led by former hopeless PM Zoran Milanovic, frantically screams out about its new deals and unnatural coalitions, such as the one with the HSS/Croatian Peasant Party centre-right, as the people’s saviours; frantic cries for positions of advantage to be filled by dodgy politicians echo everywhere around them. Its leftist partner HNS/Croatian People’s Party screeches foul at anyone and everyone not in that coalition, in order to secure more votes. Calling their coalition “People’s Coalition” (Narodna koalicija) had added a new dimension to the threat of this revving dodgem cars pile-up; a possible onslaught of renewed communist attacks and destruction of what’s left of pride in Croatia and its hard-won independence. Hell, WWII Yugoslav communists fought under the so called “People’s Freedom Battle” banner where they said they fought for freedom of the people, yet all they fought for was for Croatia not to have its freedom/independence but to remain enslaved and oppressed within communist Yugoslavia. Many a person will indeed shudder with horror in Croatia at the name this new, leftist coalition led by SDP has given itself. The name “People’s” belonging to the former League of Communists in Croatia (today’s SDP) does not carry its normal benevolent connotation in this case but rather spells disaster for Croatian freedom.
Then Bozo Petrov, leader of the Bridge/Most coalition of a handful of independent parties, partially responsible for the June collapse of government, keeps crashing his dodgem car against the
crash barrier. He’s pressing the accelerator while in clutch mode, yelling foul against everyone and anyone except himself to finally get stuck in one spot from which he says he can reach the people at grassroots best – enthusiastically setting up a sort of electoral offices in a couple of spots as if he had just invented sliced bread.
Petrov’s electoral nests of weirdly meshed individuals into a coalition has egged on new dodgem cars piling up on this heap of political chaos. Yes – new dodgem cars of coalitions such as the centre-right one (with Croatian Party of Right) called “Shift” (Pomak). And wouldn’t you know it: not even a “Shift” will budge former President Ivo Josipovic’s red-shaded party “Forward Croatia” dodgem car engaged in phrenetic gasping for attention from the bottom of the pile-up.
Squealing and revving deep inside this chaotic dodgem pile-up is a tragically and awkwardly cobbled together dodgem car that threatens to change everything in Croatia. Everything! This coalition does not have a name yet that I know of but it’s put together by Live Wall (read: people holding hands in attempt to stop evictions of people from repossessed houses) (Vilibor Sincic), Most/Bridge dissidents called “Let’s Change Croatia” led by Ivan Lovrinovic and Franak Association/Goran Aleksic (group of people fighting banks for unfair loans in Swiss Francs). This coalition vows to fight (bare-handed, clenched fist) against banks, bad laws, corruption, bad justice system; you name it – they will tackle it; all for a cushy job as a representative in the Parliament that, given the lingering strong influence of communist past, seems to be choking from fighting opposing ideology demons every time a new sitting is on.
Ah, look in there, look in the pile-up, there’s a thundering dodgem car madly spinning in hot air its glider tyre, accumulating frantic speed, vowing to fix Croatia within eight to ten years in all
aspects of life – Milan Bandic 365 party (long term Mayor of Zagreb) aims to do this in coalition with Radimir Cacic’s Reformists (a burned, down and out former SDP deputy Prime Minister) and a well known economist Ljubo Jurcic, who has contributed diddy squat to improving Croatia’s drowning economy in the past decades; just rattled on trying to dish out impractical textbook wisdom every so often in the media. Evidently – another dodgy dodgem car on the pile-up.
Boris Miletic, leader of the Istrian IDS party takes the cake of dodgy dodgem cars on the pile-up with his mock-up of an Istrian passport, suggesting Istria wants out of Croatia as protest against those in pursuit of justice for communist (antifascist) crimes. He revs about, in clutch mode, about being tolerant and of worldly and civilised standards yet threatens (he said it was a joke!) to take Istria region out of Croatia because people seek justice for innocent victims of communist crimes.
HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union appears the only one that has jumped the crash barrier and appears as the only dodgem car not revving about frantically trying to convince voters they are it –
God’s given to the people to solve their unbearable life’s problems. HDZ seems to be soberly and calmly tightening its ranks, inviting former political dissidents to return to its fold under the banner of gathering, unity and togetherness and braving a whole new political ambience in Croatia where it wants to go it alone- no coalition with anyone – in any electorate if it can avoid it. Since its new leader Andrej Plenkovic has stepped up to the task HDZ’s agenda in this pre-election time seems to be one of determination to shine for the people once again, to win back the voters it lost throughout vicious campaigns against it from the left wing in particular. Milan Kujundzic and Drago Prgomet are two strong and widely respected former members of HDZ who went away, formed their own parties, but now are back under the HDZ’s banner of “Gathering”. Gathering together is the message here and this has no place in the dodgem car pileup and chaos. It is giving out a message of serenity, professional ambience, humility and determination to succeed and to prove themselves worthy of their voters as well as of those they would like to see return to the conservative, centre-right fold of HDZ. Having said this, I do think Plenkovic has yet to prove himself as a worthy and skilful leader who will realise HDZ’s founding agenda of strengthening the values of Croatian struggle for independence and democracy, severing completely all ties to former communist regime in daily lives and public administration – if he fails, his dodgem car will fall into the pile-up and votes will flicker anywhere and everywhere except to form an outright majority government.
Society changes according to politics. It’s because of politics that life in Croatia stagnates on many important levels especially economic/employment and in pride of achievements. The biggest achievement Croatia has made in a thousand years of its existence is to fight for and win its independence and yet that big achievement is constantly being undermined and cheapened and belittled by politics of the communist nostalgia embedded in left or centre-left political orientation. This must not be permitted; Croatia like all free countries must celebrate its victories for freedom. The left-leaning political wings label all heartfelt patriotism toward independent Croatia as fascism. It is imperative Croatia’s new government passes new laws that will ban and forbid public display or usage of any communist Yugoslavia symbols. That is the last battle to true freedom and democracy Croatia must win, otherwise it will be crushed under the heavy weight of these dodgem car frantic pile-ups.
It is not just the countless political parties and coalitions that contribute to this frantic dodgem pile-up that does nothing except make voters apathetic towards voting. In the past six months in Croatia there have been dozens of civil organisations, professional associations, individuals shooting from the hip, media outlets … almost as if working in a political concert that has the aim of blackening the name of Croatian independence, the Homeland War and what Croatia fought for in 1990’s/ to secede from communist Yugoslavia and develop a democracy. The conservative government, led by HDZ, had been and still is labeled revisionist, nationalist, fascist, xenophobic – any time attempts are made to right the wrongs perpetrated by the former communist Yugoslavia regime.
Distressingly, these vicious political activists serving a communist agenda under the guise of democracy do not seem easily stoppable. A new scandal or aggressive allegations of fascism erupts almost every day, with the only aim to cut down conservative politics and Croatian patriotism no matter what the human cost. While one may shrug at all this and not give it serious thought, the fact is that multitudes suffer and are tired of not having political representation strong enough to deter the aggressive vilification that’s being dished out viciously by vicious protectors of communist crimes and communist past. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)