Croatia: Winning Votes Requires A “Cluster-Bomb” Approach

Croatian Presidential Candidates 2019

The imminent Presidential elections in Croatia set for 22 December 2019 are shaping up as a three-horse race, possibly a four-horse race, despite there being 11 candidates who qualified for the running. According to polls three frontrunners are Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic (the current incumbent backed by the struggling in popularity stakes ruling political party HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union whose popularity has plummeted with apocalyptic speed in the past couple of years), Miroslav Skoro (a well-known figure in Croatia as long-standing popular musician, former member of Croatian Democratic Union with a seat in 2008 Croatian Parliament,  businessman with a Doctorate in Economics who is running as an independent candidate with an expressed intention to topple the current HDZ-led government after he wins office, asking the party’s many members to defect and vote for him) and Zoran Milanovic (former Prime Minister, Social Democrat, with an atrocious record in leading the government of the country, which led to his demise as the leader of his own party in late 2016). The fourth candidate that keeps popping up as having a fairly good chance of winning is Mislav Kolakusic (a lawyer and former court judge who has become known as a politician with his platform to rid Croatia of corruption even though he provides no real or detailed solutions as to how he would free Croatia from that heavy plague).

All in all, all candidates promise big things of changes coming if they win, however, one needs to take a step back in order to see that some changes being promised are not possible under the current powers of the President of the country! But they are all trying to compete who is a bigger and better Tudjmanist!

Miroslav Skoro is the only candidate seeking to increase the president’s powers because he also thinks that the president with current constitutional powers cannot bring change to a society that is seeking change. Presidential powers that Tudjman had were cut and made almost impotent when it comes to leading the nation to the needed transformation from communism into democracy. The president of the republic is elected directly by popular vote for a period of five years and is limited to two terms.

The 1990 constitution originally granted the president very broad powers; the president could dismiss the prime minister, who was nominally responsible to both the parliament and the president but was actually directly dependent on the president. Constitutional amendments in 2000, under the leadership of former communists Stjepan Mesic (then president) and Ivica Racan (the prime minister) reduced the importance of the president of the country, who thenceforth served solely as head of state, and increased the power of the parliament and of the prime minister, who assumed the role of head of government. The president continues to nominate the prime minister, but the parliament must confirm the appointment. With a majority in today’s parliament being former communists, still refusing to denounce the criminal former communist regime, one needs to wonder whether Skoro’s plans to bring about such significant change will end up nothing more than electoral rhetoric. Certainly, it’s difficult to see at this stage that he has the necessary political and practical knowhow support to be able to achieve the turnaround. While Skoro enjoys support of a number of sovereignist political parties and individual politicians of note, the seeking of voter defection should have been directed at all the culprits (both HDZ and SDP) for the critical economic and democratic state Croatia is currently in. Any other approach, singling out one and not the other, would seem to validate an idea that double standards in national politics are acceptable; and they are not. Both HDZ and SDP are almost equally responsible for the current state that cries for change so that mass emigration of valuable workforce, prevalence of corruption and nepotism in public administration and public companies could be stopped or slowed down.

In other words, nothing short of lustration and decommunisation will do! To achieve this voter defection from HDZ and SDP is needed in great numbers.

On Sunday 8 December, at his campaign launch in the large concert hall Lisinski in Zagreb, Miroslav Skoro, whose election slogan is “Now or Never”, declared that he would be the next president of Croatia, and would resume and inherit Franjo Tudjman’s policy, claiming that “today’s HDZ has nothing to do with the HDZ from the time of that first Croatian president”.

That claim angered the incumbent President of HDZ, current Prime Minister, Andrej Plenkovic, and other relatively highly positioned HDZ members, who claim they are the only heirs to Tudjman. “Today’s HDZ is firmly on the path outlined by Tudjman,” President Grabar-Kitarovic said, also, on Tuesday 11 December while visiting Veliko Trgovisce, Tudjman’s birthplace.

Franjo Tudjman led Croatia into independence and that task was a national effort that took enormous sacrifice, dedication and collaboration with Tudjman’s leadership in creating an independent state from multitudes – individuals who were and those who were not members of Tudjman’s HDZ political party as well as other political parties. Hence, it is nothing short of stupidity, disrespect, repulsion and arrogance for Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic and HDZ to claim that “HDZ is the only heir to Tudjman”! The fact is that the entire independence fighting movement and its strong participators are the only heirs to Tudjman and that movement was widespread during the Homeland War of the 1990’s and continues to be widespread today. It was not only members of HDZ that fought for an independent Croatia but, indeed, many others outside HDZ “walls”.

The Social Democratic candidate, former prime minister Zoran Milanovic, has also showed respect and consideration for Tudjman in his campaign. “He was ready to spend time in prison for Croatia… He was not often right, but, in important things at the time, he was right – and many Croatian citizens recognised that,” Milanovic told N1 television on Tuesday 10 December.

This competition as to which one is a better Tudjmanist while in many respects may not be taken seriously by various groups and individuals, may indeed be seen by many others as a strong turning point when the period of de-Tudjmanisation of Croatia (commenced a couple of decades ago under the ormer communists’ pursuits to falsely criminalise Croatian Homeland War and, hence, the legitimacy of its independence struggle) is experiencing an end. And real values, those of full democracy and freedom, are elevated to the point of real progress.

Psychology of voters is basically aligned with psychology of individual and personal choices either on basis of political ideology or personal welfare interests or both. To get enough voters to defect their usual voting preferences is an exercise that is deep, personal and must provide visible benefits for all who may decide to defect from being loyal to one political party for decades. Indeed, if the major changes needed for Croatia are to be successful then defection is needed not only from HDZ echelons but also from SDP (Social Democrats) ones.

Winning someone’s vote in modern democratic societies requires a kind of cluster-bomb approach on the part of political parties. With communication these days (and mainstream media being controlled by major parties) being such a multi-faceted thing, and the opinion polls so either tight or non-dependable, every method — from leaflet dropping, social media to the old-fashioned landline phone — must be harnessed by any candidate serious about breaking the stale mould of voter behaviour that has seen Croatia floating in perpetual bickering and recriminations. The message for the need for change has been put out there but skills for managing that change require much more than any of the candidates have left the impression of possessing or being able to organise. And voters need both the message and the how, otherwise voter behaviour is unlikely to change to an impactful degree for the nation. If anything, these presidential election campaigns have made it clear that Croatia desperately needs changes – changes away from old communist mindset and that is in my view a great thing. The voters should, therefore, give their vote to the one who has the biggest determination for changes and, hence, the biggest likelihood in at least commencing with the changes if not achieving them during the next presidential mandate. Ina Vukic

 

 

 

Comments

  1. Stipe Cicak says:

    The only the candidate who offered a real change for Croatia was Goran Jurisic. He unfortunately was not able to gain the necessary ten thousand signatures. The rest of the candidates will in general keep the current status quo, whilst building the wall that will divide the territory on which Croats have inhabited since the seventh century.

  2. Daj boze da SKORO pobjedi ✌️

  3. Always good to read your posts!
    I am glad to know more about the politicians in your country.

    • <3

      • Ignace Gojsic says:

        Ina,congratulations for excellent observations of Croatian presidential elections.But some day,changes must start,sooner or later,otherwise Croatia will be in a big trouble.Mr.Skoro is only candidate who shows light at the tunnel,and we must support him in changing history of Croatian people;NOW or NEVER

        Ignace

      • Thank you Ignace, let’s trust the voters will admit to a need for change when they vote! Cheers!

  4. Bravo, thanks for this review.

  5. Wishing you well in the forthcoming elections Ina.. Politics I feel are now needed to change with the times..
    What we have seen happen here in the UK this week shows that people are now beginning to think for themselves and no longer blindly vote for the parties their fathers and grandfathers did..
    Politics needs to start working for their people, and serve the people who put them in these positions of power..
    Change is coming, I see it in many countries Ina.. So lets hope the peoples choice is the right one for Croatia..

    Much love my friend.. I have missed not being in WP as often, And wish you and your family a Joyous and Happy Holiday Season… Looking forward to what 2020 will bring us..

    Hugs Sue <3

    • Miss you posts and miss your presence also Sue! I do agree that winds of change for politics are becoming stronger – there is only so long that politicians can pull wool over people’s eyes, act as if they did not elect them etc etc. The alternative to having the courage to change one’s voting behaviour is the streets and nobody in their rights mind wants that! The people in England have indeed spoken loud and clear this time around. Hugs and blessings to you and your family for Christmas and New Year <3

  6. Hi Ina,
    1. Franjo Tudman did not have a coalition with SDSS Serb minorities.
    2. HDZ is a socialist party, that has more in common with SDP
    3. HDZ is corrupt institution which leads other institutions into corruption.

    There is no centre right party of any significance in Croatia today.

    Croatia today is not democratic, just review the voting process, media and system of law. It has become Croslavija a socialist state at best, riddled with corruption as per the EU’s own statistics.

    When you hear HDZ KGK speech in Osijek yesterday, it churns your stomach. I mean we all know politicians lie, but to tell people she will provide IT jobs worth 8000 euros a month, is just absurd and ridicules.

    Its got to the point, that anyone that that promotes a change to the status quo looks good.

    • Well put Splithead and to the point. Kolinda’s speech in Osijek was awful, infuriating, disrespectful and insulting to our intelligence. Yup, well demonstrates the need for change, quick smart. without Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic or Zoran Milanovic… Listening to her speech I couldn’t shake off the feeling that she was under the influence of some intoxicating substance – whether legal or not!

  7. Ina, just on another topic…why are people in today’s Croatia still waving Yugoslav flags. Lepa Brena who wore a Chetnik uniform in Brcko continues to perform in ZG. Veteran groups are outraged but no one seems to concerned about what they think as they have become irrelevant or a nuisance to the government. We are the only country in Europe that doesn’t have a national war memorial for its defenders. When will a law be introduced, that promoting communist symbols is a crime.

    • Provocation provocation! It seems like communists in Croatia are resisting fiercely the EU declaration from May 2019 that communist regime was criminal Dalmo-Geelong. Stronger actions needed against them

  8. Let’s hope for the best and prepare for the worst!

  9. patience, so easily forgotten when we want change, may your Country find wise leaders, amen

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