Unification – More a Gothic Horror Story Than a Disney Fairy Tale!

With ten weeks until the European Parliament elections, nerves (and patience?) of a large part of the Croatian electorate seem to be frazzled, worn out and overwhelmed. The growing election fever is becoming more and more swollen by the day in Croatia, and even the diaspora in which Croatian nationals, voters, live are not spared from fretting and nail-biting suspense.

Some people in Croatia who find themselves caught in the eye of this political storm are trying to manage the uncertainty of the outcomes of these upcoming elections so that they come out to the public with almost silly, crazy, wacky ideas. Wacky because personalities rather than election platforms for the betterment of EU, of Croatia, are emerging and the mere step of unification (coalition) is becoming more important than what politicians wishing to unite have to offer to the nation! I know, the official election campaign has not started yet, but according to the events in the public debate of political life in Croatia, election campaigns have well and truly accelerated and penetrated the mind and heart of many. “Killer” sparks on account of unification seem to sow fully undefined fear everywhere in order to gather and secure people-favour for a “united political force”. Suddenly, the notion of unification or coalition (anyone, with anyone?) is sold as the only straw for the salvation for Croatia!

Silly! Crazy! Wacky!

And so, Croatia is hit by a storm with a thunder of unification; the thunder that strikes at common sense, which otherwise tells us that political unification or coalition of political parties is never good. It seems, these days, that one who is not wanting to unite for reason of unification needs to pin himself/herself firmly into the ground so as not to lose sight of the real thing that led him/her into political activism, into a political party, way before this thunderstorm.

The so-called “Amsterdam Coalition” (minor parties: HSS [Croatian Peasant Party], GLAS [Voice], IDS [Istrian Democratic Party], PGS [Primorsko goranski Union], HSU [Croatian Pensioners Party], Labor) arrived recently on the Croatian political scene; leftist self-pumped political crumbs that seek to coagulate in some new force aimed at demolishing the HDZ government and regionalising Croatia. On the right side of the political spectrum comes the coalition “Croatian Sovereignists” (minor parties and supporters: HKS [Croatian Conservative Party] plus HKS EU Parliamentary Ruza Tomasic, Hrast party, with the support of the Civic Initiative of Truth about the Istanbul Convention and the Croatian Wall known for its engagement on migrant issues and Pero Kovacevic, former HSP/Croatian Party of Rights). HKS’s Marijan Pavlicek, theatrically asserts to the Croatian public that “the unification of all sovereign forces has no alternative!”; and Pero Kovacevic calls “all to abandon their egoism, narcissism and selfishness and to realise that their personal and particular party interests cannot be above the general interest.” And, of course, this group of coalition claims to move to change Croatia for the better, to overthrow the HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) government.

And so, you look to the left, you look to the right, nobody in these whims of this spellbinding unification, apart from sowing “big” declarative phrases, does anything to show the world which of their concrete measures/programs they will pledge and act upon in actually making Croatia better!

They are almost driving people crazy with the word “unification,” so it’s not difficult to conclude that their act of unification may well be driven by the connotations of glamour and nobleness the concept of unification naturally holds, and, after an electoral victory – what will be, will be!

The truth is one, and it says that in most cases large coalition or unification of various political parties is the death penalty for any viable political party. Only terminally ill political parties are considering the future or prospective coalition or unification with another as the last chance for their survival.

The relatively recent European example illustrates this problem. The big coalition that ruled Greece until January 2015 led to the collapse of the left-center party PASOK. It can be argued that in the Greek case, the desperate state of the economy justified a large coalition, but the voters nevertheless thought differently. In January elections in 2015, the radical left-wing party Siriza replaced PASOK as the main left-wing party.

The idea of unification noticeably present in the public space in Croatia these days is simple. In a grand and magnanimous political gesture, the political parties entering into a coalition would set aside their tribalism and nobly unite the increasingly diverse, restless and grumpy family of Croatian voters. In the meantime, the “noble” parties would be able to sideline the unreasonable voices in their respective party rooms and party headquarters. Everyone would benefit from this centrist arrangement – so the argument for this unification goes.

The problem is that big coalitions or unification for the sake of unification in order to achieve good election results, topple the government, end up more like a Gothic horror story than a Disney fairy tale.

If two, three, four … political parties, who have their own reason (and program) for existence, decide to join forces in a “big” coalition, what is/was the purpose of their individual existence at all? What will happen with their specific programs that individual members of the coalition/ union of political forces will still keep close to their bosoms, and which were not recognized by the people as worth voting for at previous elections? Will these specific and different programs, the reasons for existence of each individual member of a unified political force, actually remain in the fabric of unification or coalition, regardless of the joint front at elections? Certainly, nobody joining these new coalitions/unifications in Croatia has put themselves aside nor given up their own individual stands and political strivings! The voters do not like such kinds of political unification because one never knows who will jump out and break this united front and try to make their own small party bigger or more important than the rest within the coalition! With unification/coalitions of this kind, the purpose of elections is lost. Elections are for voters (people) to have choices, for people to feel secure with the stability and viability of that for which they have voted. Ina Vukic

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