Croatia – Election Results In Capital Zagreb Crucial For Continued Affirmation Of Harshly Won Sovereignty

30th May is Croatian Statehood Day! The date that marked in 1990 the inauguration of the Croatian Parliament as we know it today, the guardian as it were of a sovereign Croatia.

Happy Croatian Statehood Day!

In 2021 it is also the day when the Second round of local elections will be held. If the new left green We Can (Možemo) coalition wins lead positions in the Capital of Zagreb local government it will also signal an attack (either by large or small voter turnout) on Croatia’s sovereignty away from communist Yugoslavia.    

People in Croatia during the last 15 years, at least, have been crying out for change! Change in political leadership that would bring about a solidification of values fought for during the 1990’s Homeland War, when almost 94% of Croatian voters said a big YES to secession from communism and Yugoslavia. Whichever way one turned it seemed the popular consensus was that Croatia needs to rid itself of HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union and SDP/Social Democratic Party as leading political parties because their governments since year 2000 had increasingly failed to modernise laws in order to move away from former communist practices, increasingly failed to cut corruption and nepotism, increasingly failed to usher in investment and development that would battle alarming unemployment and brain drain away from the country… Yet voter turnout had consistently been low for this change to actually occur.  

Today, in 2021, Croatia still lives in an era of unprecedented income inequality, unnatural political elitism, corruption, non-responsive legislation to the evident needs, and skyrocketing childhood poverty just as it did under the communist/socialist regime in former Yugoslavia. In 2019 and according to the research of the Institute of Economics [“Child Poverty and Strategies for Coping with Household Poverty in Croatia”] almost 300,000 children in Croatia lived in poverty, often without basic necessities. The situation is not better today and that is an unacceptable number of children living in poverty; in a country of just over 4 million people those numbers are debilitating and devastating. The 2019 survey cited another devastating statistic: one in five members of poor families said at least one member of the household had gone to bed hungry in the month prior to the survey.

No doubt, financial insecurity increases someone’s odds of poor psychological and physical well-being. And so, one must wonder if many voters in Zagreb who have at the first round of local elections on 16 May 2021 voted significantly for the new ultra-left green hybrid of communism and socialism under the name “We Can” (Možemo) into the Council Assembly are actually still walking the communist Yugoslavia tightrope of wilful self-deception, being a Pollyanna, who only wears rose-tinted glasses and pretends the glass is half-full when it’s really not! The We Can voters as those activists involved in this political platform have certainly not learned the lesson of sustainable good life and that is: without hard work and productivity there can be no permanent exit from poverty and financial insecurity. They say they will get rid of corruption, yet corrupt and non-transparent ways define their funded activist histories! Their employment or productivity history reads activist, paid activist, NGO activist with no services provision but lots of pro-communist political claptrap, LGBTQIA intrusive pressure against mainstream Christian family values (whether you want the pressure or not) … evidently carrying the badge of approval of the communism coined phrases “State-led Corruption” and “State-led Mass Murder”!

These We Can political activists are really of the same breed as the major political parties like HDZ and SDP, who have held government both nationally and locally. The fact that they brandish the symbols and insignia of the former communist Yugoslavia as something to be celebrated, even though it murdered in cold blood at least one million of innocent people, even though the EU has branded it as criminal totalitarian regime – tells you everything about them even though the tattoo “democracy” is “embedded” upon their foreheads.  

As to how much this new left hybrid of unwelcome communism and socialism that’s hiding under “We Can” name will rock Croatia’s political and economic stability in the coming four years will be seen on this coming Sunday 30th May when the 2nd Round of local elections will confirm the leading positions of Mayor, Deputy Mayor and County Governors. What happens in the Capital city of a country is usually the guiding rule as to what political mood will spread throughout the country in the coming four years. Should the We Can Tomislav Tomasevic win the Mayoral seat of Zagreb instead of Miroslav Skoro of the Homeland Movement party, for instance, Croatia should also brace itself for some serious reckoning on the streets directed against the communist past being kept alive in Croatia.

The fact that a portion of Croatia’s voters may be realigning to the Left after the Social Democrats have lost much footing on the ground in past couple of years is not so much of a concern, given the Left has always been there, but what is of grave concern is the fact that with this new Left (under We Can brand) comes a mad and brazen attempt at reaffirmation of values of communist regime of former Yugoslavia against which 94% voted in 1991! It would be communism and socialism creeping back into the Capital City, walking without recognition or respect over the dead bodies and bones of thousands upon thousands who sacrificed their lives to rid Croatia of that political and social plague in the 1990’s. I shudder at this possibility.

In local elections held in 576 local and regional government bodies in Croatia on Sunday, May 16, in 70 cities, the heads were elected in the first round of voting. Of these, the HDZ won 36 mayorships and the major opposition party, the Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP), managed only 13. Of the six counties that elected prefects in the first round, HDZ secured four. Other counties and cities will have runoffs on May 30 to elect their mayors and prefects.

In three major cities, the incumbent HDZ failed to achieve major breakthroughs. In Zagreb, Tomislav Tomasevic, leader of Mozemo! (We can!) from the green-left coalition, secured 45.15% votes while his nearest rival Miroslav Skoro, leader of the right-wing Homeland Movement, won 12.6% votes. In the 47-seat Zagreb City Assembly, the green-left We Can coalition won 23 seats, falling one seat short of simple majority.

In Split, the second largest city in Croatia, Ivica Puljak from the liberal Centre party won 26.82% votes and will take on Vice Mihanović from the HDZ (23.23% votes) in the second round on 30 May. In Rijeka, the third largest city and a traditional SDP stronghold, Marko Filipović from the SDP (30.25%) will take on independent centre-right candidate Davor Stimac (16.10%) in the second round.

Local elections in Croatia as elsewhere in Europe, are considered a second-order election and not so important for the national agenda. They are called as such because regularly they attracted less interest, as well as lower voter turnout, and are perceived less crucial than parliamentary and presidential elections, which form a national constellation of political relations. However, one must heed a warning that local elections in Croatia are quite pivotal because, for example, many political parties do not possess the same amount of strength or public recognition at the national level, when compared to local politics. Such parties invest all of their efforts in building local-level networks that include not only politicians but entrepreneurs and interest groups, which subsequently helps them in pushing forward with their national-level policies. This is particularly important in the atmosphere where state-controlled mainstream media outlets is very biased and discriminates against political candidates. Local elections are also significant due to the fact that decision-makers on the local level can, at the same time, perform duties on the national level. For example, one who holds a position of city mayor or county governor, can be elected to legislative body on the national level, that is, the Croatian Parliament. Therefore, this local election race is quite significant as it will showcase the strength of two of the major political parties HDZ and SDP) as well as the strength of the emerging political forces that seem to be seen as filling the “third option” shoes in the country. At this moment the two competing for these shoes are the ultra-leftist and green We Can and the right-wing Homeland Movement led by Miroslav Skoro. Whichever wins the top position for Zagreb will signal the way that the political climate is likely to move in the immediate future. If Tomasevic wins nostalgia towards the criminal communist regime of Yugoslavia is likely to grow causing major unrests on the streets and beyond. If Skoro wins a stronger orientation towards business and new job development and a deserved strengthening of Homeland War values. The later would be what Croatia needs and must have in order to become politically and economically stable. Ina Vukic

Croatia: Trials And Tribulations Of Celebrating Independence

 

Croatian Parliament Friday 7 October 2016 Celebrating 25 years of independence Centre left: outgoing PM Tihomir Oreskovic and Zeljko Reiner, President of Croatian Parliament Photo: sabor.hr

Croatian Parliament Friday 7 October 2016
Celebrating 25 years of independence
Centre left: outgoing PM Tihomir Oreskovic
and Zeljko Reiner, President
of Croatian Parliament
Photo: sabor.hr

During the 1990’s in Croatia people knew that for a state to have its own parliament also meant that the state was independent and sovereign. Long gone are the days, though, when in celebration of 30th May (1990) the Croatian Statehood Day/Day of Independence jubilation spread across Croatia and its diaspora like wildfire and one cannot but notice nostalgia for the jubilation to return. Indeed, a dose of such nostalgia could be felt in the speech given at the reception hosted by the outgoing Speaker of Parliament Zeljko Reiner on Friday 7 October in honour of 8th October 1991 – the date when the Croatian parliament voted to finally sever all ties with Yugoslavia. On that day, 25 years ago, Croatia said its final goodbye to communist Yugoslavia.

“…When the moratorium date of the decision for independence of Croatia expired in 1991, Yugoslav Army planes bombed Banski Court (Croatian government offices) in an attempt to assassinate Croatian president Franjo Tudjman. Croatian parliament session had to then be moved to another location in Subiceva St … and not in its normal Parliament building (across the city square). At that time Croatia was unarmed, under the UN embargo preventing it to secure weapons and under special lack of will to help Croatia. The pressure for us to give in was terrible. The war was imposed and led on our territory; against all citizens … it was a fight for all or nothing. The newly established democracy and multi-party system were placed into jeopardy. It was because of the fact that we had visions of freedom and a democratic Croatia, and because there was unity that we managed to achieve it … the path was hard and filled with pain for more than 15,000 lives lost. We must never forget that more civilians were killed in their own home than soldiers on the battlefield…said Reiner at the ceremony, emphasising that no one would ever again be allowed to threaten Croatia, and continued:

Let this anniversary be an incentive to bring back to our citizens the hope and confidence and to start the recovery of the country that will bring happiness and satisfaction to all its citizens. This requires patriotism, strength of will, determination, wisdom and responsibility, as well as courage, just like in the Homeland War. I am confident that the call for the new session of Parliament, which will most likely be constituted next week, with the new government will achieve that…”

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic Photo:Dragan Matic/ Hanza Media

Croatian President
Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic
Photo:Dragan Matic/ Hanza Media

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic sent a message marking the 25th anniversary of Croatia’s final severance of all ties with former Yugoslavia: “We are allowed to be and we must be proud of our young state, which emerged from many centuries of battles for freedom. We have achieved a great deal in our 25 years of independence. After the harsh experiences living under the totalitarian regimes and dictatorships we have successfully developed a democratic culture, we have built institutions, we have become a notable member of international organisations and institutions. Our students, innovators, business people, scientists, doctors, artists, sports people and many others achieve notable success across the world… this is the day when with respect we remember all those who had contributed to the realisation of that historical goal, starting with the first president dr. Franjo Tudjman and the Croatian veterans, who had during those days defended (Croatia) from the most grave aggressive attacks,” said president Grabar-Kitarovic.

 

And so, one needs to wonder why with such great speeches and messages from the tops of Croatia’s leadership one comes across very little cheer in the streets, among the people? Could it be that persistent and often underhanded injections of communist resistance to a free and democratic Croatia have severely dampened or shattered the joy Croatians used to express on Independence or Statehood Day particularly during 1990’s? Observing all this, one is justified in saying that the minute the former communists/ left wing political parties entered into government after Franjo Tudjman’s death in early 2000, prompted by former communist anti-Tudjman president Stjepan Mesic, started contemplating upon ways of watering-down the elation for Croatian independence celebrations, the celebration moods would start falling and relative coldness set in.

 

Croatian first president Franjo Tudjman at the inauguration of the Croatian Parliament 30 May 1990

Croatian first president
Franjo Tudjman
at the inauguration of
the Croatian Parliament
30 May 1990

Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman had considered that the most important date to celebrate for an independent Croatian nation should be in remembrance of the day when, after the first post-WWII free and democratic general elections the Parliament of Croatia (that would usher Croatia out of the oppressive federation communist Yugoslavia) was inaugurated – that was 30th May 1990. Indeed, given that actual exit or secession from Yugoslavia was achieved through a multistep process it would only be logical and fair that the very same process was celebrated on the date it started, rather than on the date it finished. For years 30 May was a holiday and a celebration in Croatia and abroad filled with joy and pride. Tudjman died in late 1999 and the former communists decided to abandon 30 May as the Day for celebration Croatian Statehood and Independence; these communist killjoys knew what they were doing: bring confusion among the people about the day/date independence should be celebrated – bring in the element that would eat away at the celebratory joy and confidence in the good for what had been achieved.

 

And so, we arrive at today’s confusion as to which date of the three possible is best to celebrate Croatia’s independence – this purposefully staged confusion has its roots in the 2002 sessions of Croatian parliament when the centre-left majority passed a new law in regards to the public holidays, remembrance days in Croatia. Suddenly 30th May was out and 25th June came in as the date to celebrate Croatian Statehood/Independence Day. The former communists (who as a reminder did not want Croatian independence in the first place and many walked out of the Parliament in protest, in 1991) in 2002 ushered in 25 June (1991) as the day to celebrate. They had all commenced a political lynch based on lies against Franjo Tudjman even before his death and now that he was dead – they concocted an opportunity to remove 30 May celebrations from the people; remove the date that was associated with so much positive emotion for Croatian freedom and independence and the leader who made it happen. 25 June 1991 had been the date when the Croatian parliament (inaugurated 30 May 1990) proclaimed Croatia’s independence from communist Yugoslavia and, as a matter of interest, at the European Union’s request the decision was frozen for three months (the three months that saw the escalation of terrible attacks, ethnic cleansing, murder against Croatia by Serbs and the Yugoslav Army).

 

8 October (1991) also became a public holiday in Croatia and this was to celebrate Independence Day or the day when Croatian parliament severed its entire links to former Yugoslavia. Increasingly over the past fifteen years it appears as though having two days as public holiday to celebrate Croatia’s independence but not the original date of 30 May has achieved the goal intended by the former communists: many people don’t feel confident which of the two dates (25 June or 8 October) should be the “right” one to celebrate and, hence, apart from several events organised by the veterans, sadly, not much celebration occurring in the streets this past weekend!

 

If one was to heed the words said by the President of the Croatian Parliament, Zeljko Reiner, last Friday one would need to conclude that no hope or confidence like the ones present at the beginning of the independence could be brought without bringing back that glorious date of 30 May to celebrate. In the past couple of days a suggestion to that effect has been made by one of the original members of parliament, Vladimir Seks, who also suggested that a referendum on the issue of the date on which Croatian independence should be celebrated is the best way ahead. I do disagree with this strongly and besides the fact that Croatia is too poor to be in the position to pay for a referendum on that matter, 30 May is when Croatia started functioning independently with its new parliament and that date should be celebrated as the Day of independence. Independence is one single concept and reality even though it usually is achieved via separate events of processes. So, Croatia would do well to start recognising that fact and stop confusing its people as to which event in the process to independence means more than the other. 30 May 1990 is the date from which Croatian road to independence truly started and so this date should represent independence – no referendum needed. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A.,M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Croatia: Happy Statehood Day

Franjo Tudjman

 

23 years ago, on 25 June 1991, the Croatian Parliament delivered a constitutional decision on the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Croatia, declaring Croatia an independent State. Croatia would sever itself from communist Yugoslavia.

 

As evidence in the above video-clip, on that day Franjo Tudjman, the President of Croatia and the driving force behind Croatia’s independence said: “We can no longer support the state in which hidden and public aggression and pathological hatred and evil exist towards everything that is Croatian, in a state community in which we are faced with continuous threats, the use of aggression both joint and illegal in the shape of rebellion and terrorism. Declaring the independence of Croatia we are doing the same as all nations of the world do in the path to their independence, from the same national reasons”.

Narrator’s voice in video: “The historical decisions about a free path to the future were based upon the results from the referendum at which 93.2% voters circled “Yes” for independence of the state. In such a way the Croatian people had democratically expressed their wish to manage their own future and destiny. The referendum rejected all other options offered, which placed Croatia in an unfavourable position, and the proposition made by the Federal Prime Minister Ante Markovic for some kind of a democratic Yugoslavia and Slobodan Milosevic’s Greater-Serbian concept of the so-called Modern Federation, that is, of a new Serbo-Slavia. Croatian Parliament has unanimously voted for the Declaration of Independence but that unanimity was somewhat eroded by the fact that the reformed communists, under the name of Parties for Democratic Changes, expressed their voice against the Constitutional decision and the law. The club of Social Democrat (SDP) representatives sought that together with the process of separation there be a process of joining with other Yugoslav republics. That proposal was rejected and the parliamentary majority within which the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) held most seats decided upon a full and unconditional Croatian independence. The same day the Republic of Slovenia delivered its own decision for state independence. Yugoslavia was no more, although international factors advocated for some new kind of a Yugoslav community. That was the reason why a three-month moratorium and arms embargo was imposed upon the new states, which left the new states at perilous mercy of Serb aggression. But in the Homeland War Croatia defended itself and in January 1992 the international community had no choice but to recognise the new political reality on the South-East part of Europe”.

The prelude to independence and statehood
Translation of narrative in video about the referendum for Croatian independence: “In the history of the modern Croatia 19 May 1991 is one of the most important dates. That day Croatia came out to vote at a referendum, at which it was deciding about its future. The ballot paper had two questions.

Are the citizens for that Croatia as a sovereign state can enter into an alliance with other sovereign states and other republics or to remain within Yugoslavia, which would be a federative state? 83,56% of citizens voted at the referendum and more than 94% accepted the first choice, which in effect meant they decided for an independent Croatia. 4.18% voted against. 1.2% ballot papers were declared invalid. The referendum was held in dramatic circumstances of Chetnik rebellion that were assisted by Milosevic’s Greater-Serbia regime and the Yugoslav Peoples Army as the last advocates of the weakening communist Yugoslavia …in the meantime the army leaders formed its own party Communist Alliance – Movement for Yugoslavia, which assessed the democracy in Slovenia and Croatia as a temporary victory of counter-revolution. Milosevic and the Yugoslav Army assigned to Croatia the destiny of a small state that can be seen from Sljeme (mountain above Zagreb) and under the leadership of people like-minded with them (former communists/Social Democrats) … ”

23 years after June 1991 it’s difficult to shake off the threat to Croatian independence and sovereignty that existed in 1991 from the communists and as described in the last words of the above passage. The threat has grown roots in the political maneuvers od all political parties that stay loyal to the communist or antifascist groups of former Yugoslavia and, hence, it can be felt to this day. Despite that Croatia is a lucky country for it has multitudes of courageous and determined citizens who fight for progress in democracy and for settling the accounts with the evil communist regime that was under Yugoslavia. God bless them and happy Croatian national day! Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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