Croatia – Dodgem Car Race Pile-up To Election


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).


"People's" Coalition Zoran Milanotic to the right

“People’s” Coalition
Zoran Milanovic to the right

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

Bozo Petrov Most/Bridge

Bozo Petrov

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.

Shift coalition Danijel Srb, Ivan Pandza and Mate Knezovic Photo:Pixsell

Shift coalition
Danijel Srb, Ivan Pandza
and Mate Knezovic

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.




From left: Goran Aleksic, Vilibor Sincic, Ivan Lovrinovic

From left: Goran Aleksic,
Vilibor Sincic, Ivan Lovrinovic

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

Milan Bandic (right)

Milan Bandic (right)

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, IDS

Boris Miletic, IDS

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 –

Andrej P{lenkovic, HDZ

Andrej Plenkovic, HDZ

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)

High Noon in Croatia – No Political Levelling Please!

Croatian Flag Clenched Fist Adaptation of photo by (Screenshot)

Croatian Flag Clenched Fist
Adaptation of photo by (Screenshot)


The legendary 1950’s Hollywood actor  – Gary Cooper – and film crew won 4 Oscars at 1953 Academy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards for “High Noon”. The movie tells the story of a town marshal forced to face a group of killers by himself, a lone man who does the right thing at the risk of his own life.

High NoonPerhaps comparing the current attempt, i.e. the pending meeting called by Most (“Bridge”) coalition at Noon on Monday 7 December, to form a new government in Croatia to the significance of “High Noon” movie (indications are that the one who does not attend the meeting will be cast out of negotiations to form the new government) is not entirely a good match with the facts there are those in Croatia who have done so, albeit cynically as well as with a good dose of satire. The Bridge coalition of independent lists that won crucial 19 seats (currently the coalition counts 15 as 3 have fallen away due to disagreements) have been placed in the position to negotiate with both centre-right HDZ and centre-left SDP coalitions to form the new government. The only problem, it seems, is that Bridge coalition is sticking to its election campaign promises of serious and sweeping reforms for Croatia (overhaul the public sector and judiciary, and reduce taxation pressure on businesses as well as fiscal imbalances…) and seems to lack the decisive elements of consensus and compromise that are so very important in any conflict management and resolution.


The Bridge coalition wants a government of unity: a government comprising of representatives from HDZ(Croatian Democratic Union centre-right coalition), SDP (Social Democratic Party centre-left coalition) and the Bridge but working on the reforms packaged by the Bridge, without – it seems – some crucial elements from HDZ and SDP’s electoral promises! In other words, the Bridge coalition gives the strong impression that it does not trust either HDZ or SDP to lead a new government as majority in a government caucus or that it cares much about the fact that Croatian voters did actually gave more votes to HDZ and SDP promises than what they did to the Bridge promises.

The Bridge coalition is sticking to a proposal of a tripartite government – a cauldron of trouble, political disagreements and without clear lines of political responsibility and governmental accountability! Why anyone would want to impose such a troublesome formula for the makeup of the government of their country is beyond my understanding even if Croatia is in a crisis and at the brink of economic collapse, despite the lining of some wallets with Euro funds.


High Noon has also been portrayed in dictionaries as a phrase meaning “the time of a decisive confrontation or contest”. So, given that Bridge coalition has set a meeting with both HDZ and SDP at Noon on Monday 7 December to possibly achieve agreement in forming the new government of unity for Croatia, with all political sides, friends and foes alike, as members, one does wonder whether the Bridge’s sense for the dramatic or Hollywood style climax has actually stepped into the realms of delusions of grandeur or, worse, communist style of political levelling or egalitarianism as long as one political mind rules the roost. Has the Bridge coalition placed itself into the position of playing God for Croatia’s future (or kingmaker, at least) and if so what would be its avenues for justice (as in “vengeance in mine”) against those who have “sinned” against Croatian independence, democracy, economic prosperity and/or living standards? Surely it could not reward those sinners it campaigned against (e.g. SDP government as having caused much of Croatia’s woes) by placing them all around the joint government table!

Left: Tomislav Karamarko, leader of HDZ Centre: Bozo Petrov, leader of Bridge group Right: Zoran Milanoivic, leader of SDP PHOTO:

Left: Tomislav Karamarko, leader of HDZ
Centre: Bozo Petrov, leader of Bridge group
Right: Zoran Milanoivic, leader of SDP

Certainly the general elections results where HDZ won 59 and SDP 56 out of 151 seats suggest strongly that Croatian voters do not want changes, not earth-shattering ones as forming a tripartite government would suggest. The Bridge coalition’s idea of such a reformist government places the Bridge coalition ambitiously as a real bridge that would unite the political left and the political right into a single task: shaping Croatia in accordance with the Bridge coalition ideas for change! The major problem with this is that in a democracy and a politically competitive climate that is an inherent right within a democracy, the Bridge coalition is attempting to cut-off these rights of political competition at the knees; do away with political pluralism! In true democracies “power should be dispersed among a variety of economic and ideological pressure groups and should not be held by a single elite or group of elites,” says Encyclopaedia Britannica. Furthermore, if a tripartite government is installed in Croatia who is going to be the Opposition in the parliament? How can a government be independent of governing powers held to account, how can new ideas (ideas the government does not come up with) and changes be brought to the parliament floor, how can there be healthy parliamentary debate – if there is no significant Parliamentary Opposition?

The Bridge coalition may have some good ideas as to how to achieve reforms they believe are needed in Croatia but just because it has won enough seats in parliament at the elections to be THE decisive entity that could form the new government, that does not give it the right to play with or ignore the fundamental rights and processes of democracy for which thousands lost their lives in the 1990’s War of Independence for Croatia. Certainly, to me, the idea of a tripartite government that includes an overwhelming majority of political parties, each differing from the other in their crucial ideas, that are supposed to work in harmony has many hallmarks of the former Communist party blanket principle where everyone had to conform to the central idea or be considered a political dissident/enemy of the State!

On Thursday 3 December Croatia moved closer to holding a new election when parliament convened for the first time after an inconclusive vote on 8 November and its SDP-nominated Speaker, Robert Podolnjak (member of the Bridge coalition), withdrew his nomination on grounds that he did not have cross-party support (HDZ did not support his nomination).
The two big parties (HDZ and SDP) have each so far failed in negations with the Bridge coalition on forming a new coalition government and Noon Monday 7 December will be the crunch to decide as to when new elections are to be held. President Kolinda Grabar-KItarovic has called for a second round of consultations in the afternoon of 7 December with all elected parties in her keenness to have a new government formed, but given that her first attempts wasn’t successful and nothing much has changed – her consultations are unlikely to succeed.
If the government is not formed soon, the Croatia’s president will have to call new elections.
Whoever wins the support of at least 76 deputies will become prime minister designate and of course both SDP and HDZ are hoping to achieve this without the offered option of being ushered into a tripartite solution for new government.
It is unclear when the parliament will convene again.
Croatia’s public debt is alarmingly close to 90 % of GDP and employment is at 17%, with 43% Youth unemployment. The European Commission and the International Monetary Fund want the next government to reduce debt and barriers to investment, notably in the private sector.

I hope the Bridge coalition does not succeed in its attempt to kill the democratic debate in the Croatian parliament by forming a tripartite government. I hope new elections are held soon and if the voters give this new Bridge coalition more votes to form a majority government – so be it. But, if the results go in favour of one of the two major coalition blocs (HDZ or SDP) – so be it, too! In politics the concept akin to levelling (known as “uravnilovka” in Croatia or Russian or …where, in this case, all political sides supposedly get the equal right and skill to decide or contribute to government) seems to be protruding from the Bridge coalition’s insistence on a unity or tripartite government. Levelling was/is an operational concept of communist regimes, trying to make everyone equal but ended up creating wider differences between the rich and the poor than thought possible – I would loathe seeing levelling being given a new lease of life in Croatia (it has a life in communist Yugoslavia) – this time within the realm of democratic debate by having the debate cut under the pretence that political friends and foes can govern together in harmony! Desperate times do call for desperate measures but this idea coming from the Bridge coalition to form a unity government and deny Croatia a strong parliamentary opposition is mad and dangerous for democracy in action.  Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

How Croatia will develop!

Today’s “Vecernji List” newspaper from Zagreb published an article quoting president Ivo Josipovic:  “I invite the parties not to conduct dirty campaigns”. This is i relation to the coming elections in Croatia. “I expect from the participants in election campaign to offer the voters as to how Croatia will develop,” Josipovic added.

In the HRT television news Josipovic commented that political parties should not talk about the past but about the future.

It is not clear whether he was alluding to the fresh arrest of the WWII communist Josip Boljkovac for alleged crimes of mass murder during 1945 or the feshly intensified criminal investigations for alleged corruption by the ruling party Croatian Democratic Union. Perhaps he meant both?

Whatever he meant seems illogical! But, with an unsettling discomfort for many.

All election campaigns in the entire “Western” democratic world revolve around the future AND the past. Past performances on past issues that affect the people are very important. National memory cannot be erased. The future depends on how the past was reconciled.

Croatia must pursue on its path to convict all proven crime from the past and the present. Especially the crimes that affect the people en masse and these are war crimes and corruption. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb), B.A., M.A.Ps.(Syd)

Disclaimer, Terms and Conditions:

All content on “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is for informational purposes only. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” blog is not responsible for and expressly disclaims all liability for the interpretations and subsequent reactions of visitors or commenters either to this site or its associate Twitter account, @IVukic or its Facebook account. Comments on this website are the sole responsibility of their writers and the writer will take full responsibility, liability, and blame for any libel or litigation that results from something written in or as a direct result of something written in a comment. The nature of information provided on this website may be transitional and, therefore, accuracy, completeness, veracity, honesty, exactitude, factuality and politeness of comments are not guaranteed. This blog may contain hypertext links to other websites or webpages. “Croatia, the War, and the Future” does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information on any other website or webpage. We do not endorse or accept any responsibility for any views expressed or products or services offered on outside sites, or the organisations sponsoring those sites, or the safety of linking to those sites. Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome and encouraged to voice their opinion regardless of identity, politics, ideology, religion or agreement with the subject in posts or other commentators. Personal or other criticism is acceptable as long as it is justified by facts, arguments or discussions of key issues. Comments that include profanity, offensive language and insults will be moderated.