Croatia: Sovereignty Should Equal Decommunisation


“Croatian sovereignists” press conference
9 February 2019
Photo: Screenshot

It’s been several years since Croatian politics had entered largely uncharted waters of political survival and political assertion in a democratic system, which fundamentally promotes freedom of political and other association. The struggle for political survival and assertion in Croatia among the voting population, which has until 1990 lived for five decades under a one-party (communist) system, has shown the full plethora of rewards and backlashes that Western democracies have been seeing for much longer. But, for Croatia, assertion of this democracy has meant for political parties and citizens’ political initiatives swimming or sinking in unchartered waters, particularly when the need for political coalition or union is seen by some (or many) as rather imperative for political survival.

Croatia, as most countries of democratic tenure, has particularly in the last two decades seen minority governments elected where coalition with other parties was essential in order to form a government. The thorn in the eye over recent years has, it seems, been the coalition with ethnic minority political parties to form a government, which left and leaves among the population the uncomfortable notion that ethnic minorities are dictating the direction and reality of the Croatian state that is increasingly seen as “anti-Croatian”, “anti-sovereignist”. A particular discomfort and voter-irritation is associated with the government coalition with the Independent Serb Democratic Party/Milorad Pupovac. Indeed, such a coalition had also meant that much of kudos and deserved recognition and practice of Croatian Homeland War values had slowly and unacceptably fallen to the wayside. In all the desperation and hopelessness that has ensued, dozens of new political parties, dozens of new political citizens’ initiatives – “to save Croatia from utter ruin” – have emerged.

A new political culture is emerging in Croatia.

In this new political culture, attitudes that the right-wing/conservative politicians are the true sovereignists, true saviours of Croatia, and that the others (including current government) are globalists who want to destroy the Croatian national being, are emerging daily through some public media outlets as well as through social media. Moral judgments, political myths and realities, beliefs, and ideas about what makes for a good Croatian society appear to be dished out almost incessantly these days. When there are little or no practical solutions offered or visibly worked on for a better, “an ideal”, Croatian society, a state of political culture of confusion and wandering in unchartered waters emerges.

There is an increasingly present expression from the conservative, right wing political plethora in the community that all conservative political parties and leaders should unite and form a political force that would topple the current HDZ-led (Croatian Democratic Union) government at elections as well as drown the chances for SDP (Social Democratic Party), the other historically major political party, at coming elections. Even some of the media in Croatia is addressing this issue of late. At times they appear to suggest to the public that if a party or some political figure of note, from the conservative political orientation, does not join such a union then – well – then they “don’t want” to be a part of this “union of saviours”! That these are not sovereignists, is what’s suggested!

Nothing could be further from the truth, though!

There have been and there are numerous political parties, individuals and citizens’ initiatives that are and have carefully and specifically tended to the preservation and assertion of Croatian national interests and national being. If we accept that in a democracy, and we should accept it, a political party is created in order to benefit the people, either generally or on specific issues, then the concept of uniting with others for greater election results beckons the question what or who will need to compromise their vision for a better country.

And, is that compromise worth the union?

International experience of coalition politics shows that instability is never far away. Indeed, the Croatian experience also shows this. However, that doesn’t mean that tightly and clearly founded coalition cannot work – at least for the achievement of particular and specific goals the country must achieve to move ahead.

The relatively recent shenanigans in frequent changes of Croatian government, in fallings out between government coalition partners, are testimony of what can go wrong in coalitions that are set up badly or in a rush of electoral win euphoria. What began as a rift over the Agrokor, for example, between HDZ and MOST (Bridge), spilled over, threatened and demolished the then existing coalition in government and a new one had be devised.

Like a Formula One car, if something small fails, the whole complex machine can fall apart and come off the road.

Worldwide experience shows that there is a clear danger for coalition partners surrendering the uniqueness of their identity. They are forced to compromise to accommodate the policies of others indispensable to the numerical ability of the coalition to govern.

Coalitions can result in significant electoral gains. But involvement in coalition, or union into a political force for that matter, does have electoral backlashes, particularly if siding with some traditional enemies is present. Coalitions are also inherently adversarial. It’s a necessary condition that parties work together. But empirical evidence from across the world shows that the primary rationale for coalition formation is the acquisition of political power.

There is nothing inherently objectionable to this. The best intentions for positive change are of little consequence unless coupled with the power to implement them. The acquisition of power through legal means is therefore a legitimate and fundamental objective of any political party that has the best intentions for the people that it seeks to serve.

But this inevitably generates conflict as coalition partners continuously manoeuvre themselves to ensure that they get the best return for their investment in political compromise. While each must work together, the end goal for each party or citizens’ initiative is its own success. And sometimes fights among friends can lead to more destructive and enduring fallouts than fights among foes.

Lessons from Germany are that successful coalitions have been founded on written agreements that create formal structures for engagement among partners (e.g. allocating responsibilities for specific tasks/matters/issues to specific individual members of the union) but also, that great coalitions stand, after all, on wobbly legs. The recent emergence of the right wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) from a marginal party to the game-changer in federal and state politics shows that great coalitions do not necessarily cater for all significant needs, emerging needs and aspirations among the people.

When a political coalition or union is assembled among several strong, and capable, political leaders the inevitable result is that only one can be seen as “The” leader and the others fall behind. This, in a strong sense, means that the country loses on active individual political leadership pool and, consequently, the diminution of that pool of needed publicly active innovation.

International experience shows a clear and direct relationship between well written coalition agreements and the stability of the coalition/union. But they’re not easily enforceable. That’s because they’re political agreements rather than legal agreements.

Therefore, the only way to ensure that coalition partners stick to a deal is to offer each partner enough benefits to ensure that it derives more political advantage by staying in the coalition, than if it were to ‘go it alone’ or offer its allegiances elsewhere.

On Saturday 9 February 2019, in Croatia’s capital Zagreb, a union of some right wing/conservative political parties, some citizens’ initiatives and associations was announced at a press conference. This political union calls itself “Croatian Sovereignists” and members say sovereignism is their platform for political engagement. Leading personalities from the small Hrast party (Ladislav Ilcic, Hrvoje Zkanovic MP, retired general Zeljko Sacic) Ruza Tomasic MEP from small Croatian Party of Rights Dr Ante Starcevic, Marijan Pavlicek of small Croatian Conservative Party, heads of a couple of critizens’ initiative including of Truth About the Istanbul Convention and Croatian Bedem (Bulwark) and associations spoke at the press conference.

President of Hrast Ladislav Ilcic said that the Croatian people seek the unity of all those who see Croatia as a sovereign state. He believes that the new political platform will achieve excellent results in the upcoming European and later Croatian parliamentary elections. “Plenkovic’s HDZ has turned sharply to the left and Croatia under that leadership has become one of the most open countries that follow globalist ideas that are very often in contradiction with Croatian national interests, Croatian pride and values that Croatian people have fundamentally determined over the centuries,” Ilcic said.

So we need people who will represent us with an open mind, who don’t hesitate saying what they think and what is best for Croatia and that we don’t go to Brussels for our opinion but with our opinion. If the voters decide to continue supporting those who are for a big Europe, when we become marginalised, no one will be to blame but ourselves,” Ruza Tomasic said.

Hrast representative at Croatian Parliament, Hrvoje Zekanovic, said that the Croatian sovereignist means to be against the Istanbul Convention imposed by the EU, against the Marrakech Agreement as it is bad for Croatia, for the blocking of Serbia on its way to the EU so that aggression against Croatia could finally be recgonised and acknowledged and war damages paid/compensated as well as for defending the rights to life and defending the Croatian people in Bosnia and Herzegovina and on question of the diaspora.

When asked by journalists whether they have approached other political parties and citizens’ initiatives to join this union Ilcic said that they were “…open for collaboration with all those who think like we do, who have similar opinions regarding Croatia as we do …they say that they are going to elections independently, the future will show if that is good…”.

One would prefer to have heard at the press announcement some more concrete, practical ways this political union intends to strengthen the sovereignty of the Republic of Croatia. To list the blocking Serbia on its path to the EU, or getting Serb aggression against Croatia finally recognised or ensuring compensation for war damages just isn’t enough, nor most important – by a long shot. This way the press conference felt more like the springboard to an election campaign than an organised body o forces that is clear on all paramount tasks for the future of Croatia.

The most important platform for real sovereignty of Croatia are decommunisation and lustration.

It goes without saying that were Croatia to rid itself from largely ineffective public administration riddled with corruption it would inject new trust, new optimism for the much needed foreign investment in the country that would stabilise if not improve the much ailing economy. Clearing of former communists and their like-minded people from public administration either physically or through new and tightened regulations and laws is the only and natural step to full sovereignty. I say this because the Homeland War was fought and won in order to establish full democracy and you cannot have a full democracy with so much of the communist Yugoslavia practices, conducive to corrupt practices, in public administration continuing practically unimpeded. Ina Vukic


  1. Reblogged this on Ace News Desk.

  2. Tony Dobran says:

    Hi Ina
    After a read of your article, I only have questions. So here are two with comments attached.
    1) If Serbs are to pay back for their aggression, who is proposed to benefit?
    2) Sovereignty Should Equal Decommunisation is your headline. This change can only occur once people understand what sovereignty truly means and then gets adopted for all people in the Constitution. Are you aware the constitution is what is creating all the confusion and decommunisation not possible in the the Constitution is written?

    • I would hope that war damages compensation would pay for destruction done to property etc, there is a list of damages that’s been around for years, Tony, I believe. Private property destroyed by Serbs such a homes have to a large extent been dealt with so people have a home etc…but I would say the State is to benefit or to the extent it had to provide for losses etc. I do not agree that the Constitution doesn’t allow for decomminisation even if it says that Croatia was created from among other foundations, antifasim as well. Constitution is about a democratic framework and not communist so – possible, may need some tweaking 🙂 though

  3. Ina,
    A clear four year program needs to be placed on the table.
    Example : Reform of the following 1. legal system 2.Media 3.Elections and government, 4. The old secrete service, followed by detail on how.
    Agreed priorities for the four year period.
    Goals to be published to public.

    Now if these people “sovereignists” have not thought about how, or be able to propose something for an agreement, to achieve these goals, they do not deserve to be elected. They have had 27 years to come up with more than just a photo of themselves. Croatia has had too much of “just trust me I’m carrying a flag” rubbish.

    All stakeholders to be signatories, critically stakeholders to be from a broad political spectrum. This will be a test of ow well they can govern. They should not be described as conservative at all, they should be described as people that have the same priorities for a normal, functional, capitalist, democracy. Normal = Australian government as a yard stick, we know its far from perfect but it is a better society then most. The new government should request from Australia assistance in developing a efficient governance structure “hitno”. This is where we could assist.

    On all other issues the stakeholders can vote according to their own beliefs. Hows that for a radical idea ! In other words prioritise Croatia and focus on the big ticket items that matter and are agreed, hence less chance of falling apart.

    What the Croatian people need is a transitional government that can build a society for the future without the offspring of the old parties and offspring of communists. Doesn’t leave many left I know, but they are there.

    Currently, we cannot see them building a vetted broad consensus. We need people that will put into place Tudman’s words and finish what he could not, for whatever reason.


    • Absolutely agree with you Splithead. Regretfully it seems personalities and their own agendas get in the way of a common agenda for the nation. But, let’s watch the space, prod it and prick at it and see what happens! There indeed is a need for a clear transition into the new, into Croatia Tudjman and Homeland War were fighting for!

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