Throwing A Hat Into The Ring For Croatia’s Presidency

Presidential candidates for Presidency of Croatia 2019

In a political environment Croatia is finding itself these days, where anything seems possible – where major political parties of either centre, right and left ideological persuasion (who have held governments either in their own right or as minority-governments) are seeing alarming falls in popularity as well as acceleration of infighting within the political parties; where new political parties or movements are popping out of the grassroot public ground like mushrooms after autumn rains; where independent candidates for general or presidential elections pop out of their relative political anonymity randomly like Jack-in-a-box – it seems just about everyone in the country wants to run for the president (elections due late December 2019). So far there are 11 candidates who have announced their candidature and even a fairly conservative list of potential candidates stretches beyond a dozen names as more Pantovcak (Office of the President of Croatia) hopefuls are likely to swell the already ridiculously large and politically erratic and rather politically amorphous heap of candidates.

At this stage of building-up momentum to official election campaigns that start once the official list of candidates is published it is difficult to gauge which individual that has announced his/her candidature is “the real deal” for Croatia and which candidate is just trying to raise their public profile to be utilised at 2020 general elections or is actually serious about running for president. Some perhaps don’t even know where their testing of the waters will lead; for some it is like the proverbial throwing one’s hat in the ring and come what may!

Typically, having strong credentials and success as leader (either in branches of executive government, in strong political parties or movements, having a leading role in active and successful military defence of country, or the corporate or large organisations world and the like) is, one would agree, a good steppingstone to the presidency of one’s country. Being a Mayor of a city or town, being a political activist either as part of specific causes associations or as an individual, being an office-bearer in a political party led by others would not under such standards for a good presidency be considered a key qualification for the presidency.

But there is nothing typical about Croatia 2019! Croatia has a long way to go in lining its socio-political main artery with the values and aims that drove the 1990’s Homeland War and the country’s absolute secession from communism (Yugoslavia).  To achieve this the president of the country must, besides above mentioned qualifications of a leader, possess personal virtues, morality, commensurate with the said values and aims, otherwise the state of perpetual widespread claims that Croatia is not yet free and independent despite its military victory in Homeland War against the Serb aggressor is likely to result in the typical for Croatia actually being the typical of the EU and not the Croatian people who fought for and shed their blood for independence.

And so, together with possessing good qualifications for the presidency, it is widely maintained throughout the developed democracies that a president of a country must possess and must have demonstrated high personal virtue – morality – that is tightly in tune with the people and the direction a country must take in order to be a good place for all the citizens to live in. While some may disagree with the view that moral virtue is important for presidency one would find it difficult in disagreeing with the view that president whose decisions are not grounded in the right sort of ethical values may be less well-equipped to respond well – and, more importantly, might be frighteningly unpredictable in his or her responses.  Political ethicists have emphasised the ways in which democracies can fall apart in the absence of personal virtue. Conservative thinkers throughout developed democracies, in particular, have argued that political institutions can only function when all those who participate within them are capable of compromise and of self-government. Rules, to put it simply, don’t work unless people governed by those rules care about them and voluntarily choose to abide by them.

A true or dedicated leader with high moral values is likely to pay particular attention to the values and mission that have been established in the foundation of the country he/she leads. In Croatia’s case the foundation values, which were underpinned by Franjo Tudjman’s vision of reconciliation between all foes (particularly WWII communists and anti-communists), may be summarised as defending the sovereignty of and democracy in a national Croatian state (made up of Croats as vast majority) and among Croatian people wherever they lived. Tudjman died in December 1999, a mere year after the Homeland War officially ended, and had not lived long enough to complete the task set out in the beginning, when secession from communist Yugoslavia was whole-heartedly supported by 94% of democratic votes at referendum on same issue. And hence, from year 2000, the tables started turning against the very idea of a Croatian democratic and sovereign state as former communists including those who rejected independence movement in the first place or never spent a day on the battlefields for Croatia or never made any type of contribution towards it, increasingly occupied key positions of power. That is, former communist mindset and habits of corruption and nepotism continued thriving as more and more former communists held onto power or were injected into powerful positions on grounds of political suitability. This would have been the ground rather easily cultivated since the very Constitution of the Republic of Croatia lists WWII antifascists (communists) as parts of the foundation for independent Croatia! Yet WWII antifascists fought to keep Croatia within the borders of Yugoslavia, against which multitudes of Croats died and fought against for decades upon decades.

And so we come to this day and the political environment in Croatia where it is imperative for the progress of democracy and living standards to shed decisively the remnants in legislation and public administration and practice all that defined the communist Yugoslavia regime. But the leaders of Croatia in positions of power fail miserably in condemning the totalitarian communist regime of the past while condemning the WWII Ustasha regime. At times the lunacy in this is painfully transparent: it’s as though the same leaders hold the view that by condemning the communist regime (which purged hundreds of thousands innocent Croats) they would be seen as some kind of historical revisionists who are on the trail of minimising the crimes that are said to have been committed by the WWII Independent State of Croatia. And yet, if one asks the people of today one would find that majority believe both regimes should be condemned or brushed off with the same brush when it comes to victims; all victims should be recognised as such and Croatia to open a new slate for a healthy future.  But no, this is not of interest particularly to the hordes aligning themselves with the justifiers of communist crimes in particular (given that crimes pinned to the Ustashi regime have been and continue to be addressed openly if not politically twisted).

Among the current candidates who have their eyes set on future presidency there are three individuals whose platforms, opinions, reactions etc. are constantly present in the mainstream and other media like a revolving door that slaps important national issues into a ridiculous circus so that the people never really get a grip on what and how an individual candidate will fix things for a country on steep economic and demographic decline and how the values of the Homeland War will again be brought into the national focus.

The three candidates that are receiving most media attention are Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic (current president), Zoran Milanovic (former Prime Minister, former League of Communists operative and former leader of Social Democratic Party) and Miroslav Skoro (a popular musician and singer, a businessman, former member of parliament and diplomat from the HDZ/Croatian Democratic Union Party from which he has estranged himself as member in recent years). Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic continues to appear as a personality whose opinions on important matters are adjusted to the audience she is addressing at any one moment; she talks of returning Croatia to the values set by the first president of Croatia Franjo Tudjman and yet fails to spell those values out or lay out the plan of action, at least roughly. Zoran Milanovic is hotting-up the waters for continued animosities and recriminations between former communists and former anti-communists, leaning favourably to the former communist beat; nothing good for Croatia can come out of this just as nothing good came out from his Prime Ministership out of which he exited with a shattering political demise within his own party.  Miroslav Skoro for the time being reminds one of the “Lone Ranger” except for the fact that he appears as actually having no strong convictions regarding the credence of the values of Homeland War and may like the above two play for all teams (left and right and centre). None of these candidates give the impression that the crisis Croatia has been in for the past few years (economic, demographic, ideological…) has sunk in. None of them offer any concrete steps they would undertake as president to fix things. As for the other candidates so far in the race there is a mixture of the above but all, without exception, want to “save Croatia!”. It’s time Croatia stops acting as a victim, which it was, and starts decisively implementing the values of the Homeland War, which by the way, are succinctly contained in Franjo Tudjman’s 30 May 1990 speech at the Inaugural Assembly of Croatian Parliament in which he listed the crucial tasks to be done in order for a democratic and independent state of Croatia to function! Nothing else or different will save Croatia! Ina Vukic





State Of The Croatian Nation – Observations


Taking into consideration the seemingly prevalent mood, the problems that revolved around me during the last three weeks while I was visiting Croatia in March point to an alarming and concerning situation from which one can conclude that Croatia is revolving in a destructive circle whose orbit needs to be thwarted as soon as possible and Croatia returned to the principles and directions that it set for itself 27 years ago when it headed on its path to independence.


Today, people in Croatia are tired of big democracy that isn’t really there, as it is in the West, and the roots of such desperation lie in bad privatisation that was marked by uneducated and money-hungry political elites – from Pantovcak (Office of the President) across Mark’s Square (Government offices) to the Parliament as well as to the local government levels. Great possibilities exist in Croatia but, in the face of the still existing well-networked communist mentality, which evidently still expects that others solve their problems from personal life to jobs as it did during the Socialist era, most people are afraid for their personal existence.


The citizens appear to be suffering more and more from apathy or depression thinking that nothing can be changed, and this is exactly what is dangerous for a young democracy. There are individuals who have the will and who are trying to change things but are quickly disabled or trampled upon by the networked family, political party and particular personal interests machinery.


And when a certain hope for progress appears, or as it did two years ago with the change of President or recently with the change of Government, one quickly sees that the destructive structures soon thwart them, stop them in the realisation of goals they promised during election campaigns. The political-economic climate is filled with big words borrowed from Western democracies but without matching results and so we continue spinning in a circle, and palpable results are nowhere to be seen.


Not even the long-awaited entry into the EU has moved Croatia forward because it had been presented to the nation as an almost instant saviour and we have demonstrated that we are not up to the task of acting as equal partners in that organisation. After all, we couldn’t be any other way when the old communist mentality and habits wreak havoc at almost every level and crevice of public administration and processes.


What’s to be done: like others I too have been saying repeatedly that investments or capital are not enough to lift Croatia into the prosperity it once planned for, demographic revival, with which without doubt comes a spiritual revival, that is – fresh ideas and more people who have learned how to lead a country and how to make the people more satisfied, is also needed but even after 27 years the Croatian emigrés have no role in Croatia as similar population structures have in, for example, Israel, Ireland and the newest diaspora efforts occurring in India, etc. Emigration is not only a demographic revival of Croatia but the ideas and the knowhow it brings are more important than capital itself, and I dare say that the most important thing about émigrés is that they have no fear – that is, they are independent and have no fear of those in Croatia who try stopping various processes in order to save or keep their own positions there.


Besides the need for lustration, which is running terribly late in Croatia, a climate for the cessation of auto-censure needs to be created because people are afraid to express their ideas and wishes, and such people are vulnerable to manipulation and are not active members in the creation of a better Croatia, which we wanted when we headed towards the battle for independence.


Through conversations with many people of different intellectual, business and political groups I realised that the situation in Croatia is much more serious than seen by Brussels or other centres of power and they will not help with anything unless Croatia itself starts the changes that are needed.

Ivan Pernar,
Member of Parliament, Live Wall


I noticed neglect in the work with the young, whose idols are becoming populist tribunes such as Ivan Pernar (whacky and often bizarre member of parliament), and that is of short breath or incongruous with the expectations we have of youth in general in the developed democracies. Because of their self-interests the political elites do not permit change of generations nor are they preparing the young or other people to take up positions in society and, hence, we have the same city mayors for 20 years, the same members of parliament for 20 years, the same public company directors for 20 years … which, of course, works against stimulating further progress and as a result our educated and our young are leaving the country. I hold more dangerous the fact that the young do not feel needed and that they cannot change anything than the fact that they are unemployed.


To think that the whole country (Croatia) is trembling because of one private company like Agrokor, which employs some 60,000 people, is blackmailing the government with those jobs, while it brought ruin upon itself by itself in the process of receiving government subsidies and other perks, never seeking help with company governance but doing it all on its own, and when forced against the wall pulls the whole country by the nose – is something that’s unthinkable in Western democracies.


General Zeljko Glasnovic
Independent Member of Croatian Parliament for the diaspora

Alarming indications of a dying nation are not taken seriously, and there is no adequate immigration policy or long-term vision but, instead, every new government goes its own way, pushing the country deeper into crises and hopelessness.


The bright spot in my visit to Croatia was the widespread realisation of what needs to be done and, hence, I believe and hold that the diaspora, as it did during the 1990’s, can serve as a flywheel of changes if we got together as we did before and with such strength found an opening into Croatia whose doors appear mainly closed for us. The fact that confirms this is found in that there are only three seats in parliament designated to the representation of the diaspora (and only one of those representatives, independent member General Zeljko Glasnovic, maintains a determined representation of the need for changes in the status and the role of the Croatian diaspora) and three seats is not even close to being enough. I believe that those representing the diaspora in the parliament should be independent, not members of political parties, so as to avoid the threat of political party or interest groups’ influences. Ina Vukic

Legalising Marijuana Would Solve Croatia’s Economic Woes Says Madcap Politician


Ivan Pernar (L) Zeljko Glasnovic (R)

Ivan Pernar (L) Zeljko Glasnovic (R)

As I watched Ivan Pernar’s televised submission (14 December 2016) to the Croatian parliament on the matter of legalising marijuana it was difficult for me, a qualified and duly licensed professional in the field of mental processes and behaviour, to ascertain whether or not I was listening to an articulation of an intricately florid, clinically driven delusion when he, without batting an eyelid, unveiled his vision for a future where Croatia would apparently turn into “El Dorado” – a country of fabulous and untold riches almost overnight, if the use of marijuana was legalised.


Often impressing as bizarre or odd during sittings of the parliament it appears the Alphabet Democracy party’s Ivan Pernar was either stoned during that Croatian parliament sitting or was suffering some mental aberration, however passing or enduring in nature, at the bottom of which may well have stood a calculating, ill-intended pursuit to insult the intelligence of the Croatian nation as a whole. What’s troubling more, perhaps, is that the mainstream media omitted to show him up as a national disgrace for what he garbled up on a serious matter such as legalisation of marijuana.


According to Pernar life in Croatia, heck – the economy overall and all manner of lifestyle and standard of living-prosperity would be much, much better and all Croatia’s existential problems – solved, were Croatians to freely (legally) consume marijuana and puff away at joints till the proverbial cows came home, or as much as one pleases – thank you very much!

Pernar, straight faced, with a palpably spooky conviction said in his submission words to the effect that legalising the use of marijuana would have astronomically positive impacts upon Croatian economy – almost instantly. According to Pernar, legalisation of the use of marijuana in Croatia would almost automatically trigger a string of occurrences that would fill chockablock the till of Croatia’s struggling economy almost overnight. He submitted to the Parliament that if use of marijuana were legalised it would bring about an instant renaissance of Croatia’s agriculture because the vast mandarin orchards of Neretva Valley and most corn and wheat fields of Slavonia would simply be cleared out and these unprofitable crops replaced by immeasurably profitable cannabis.


He revealed his wild, unrealistic conviction that if the use of marijuana was legalised in Croatia all of the marijuana consumers from all over the world would flock into Croatia for a legal puff at a joint or two or three and thus swell Croatian tourism industry to the hilt. Utterly bizarre!


I am primarily a representative of younger people,” he said, “that is, the young generation, and those generations are not burdened by the issues that burden perhaps most of the people in here. That is, many young people would like marijuana to be legalised because they are exposed to political persecution for smoking it. I say political persecution because politics decide whether marijuana will be legal or not. Since it’s not legal many of them must face infringement courts, get fines, etc. If Croatia were to legalise marijuana we would become the metropolis of tourism just like Netherlands has. Tourists would come all year round, we would have more foreign currency, people say they sell one mandarin for one kuna but that if cannabis were legalised they would all convert to these profitable cultures. Also, many in Slavonia who now grow corn and wheat unprofitably could, tomorrow, earn money and become profitable farmers. I think that legalization of marijuana would bring about a renaissance of our agriculture, a renaissance of tourism and I think that many people would be happier in this otherwise gloomy country. And if young people were asked whether they would be emigrating from this country I believe many would say that there is at least one reason why they could stay.

I hope that the parliament will accept our proposal for the legalisation of marijuana, which we will be sending for processing and that it will have a heart for all those young people because it’s not OK that they live in fear. The other day I was with a group of them who were smoking marijuana and they were shaking, and said – Ivan, what if they catch us. And I said to them that the people from HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union/parliamentary majority party) had robbed the whole country and none of them are shaking in their boots in this parliament (at this point the Speaker warned Pernar not to insult people). I only wanted to say: young people need to be given freedom, but there is no freedom in this country and I say many of them are exposed to that political persecution; can you imagine facing a court just because you had a joint, is that not shameful, they’ve done no harm to anyone and it’s needless to speak about all the useful effects of marijuana. Say, oil heals cancer and you can use it in textile industry… Marijuana should be produced in Croatia and consumed at a small price,” Pernar contemplated loudly.

Many I have come into contact regarding Pernar’s submission for the legalisation of marijuana in Croatia found the whole speech difficult and painful to digest because of its dumb, bizarre and insulting nature – just as I did. While most of the world’s parliaments engage in consideration of marijuana legalisation (and in Croatia its medicinal use is on the legalisation books), or the more advanced countries on carefully deliberating on regulations for medicinal use of marijuana, the Croatian parliament and nation were, without interruption in the parliamentary chamber, exposed here to an appeal for the creation of a legal framework that would facilitate cheap cannabis smoking habits in the young with a crazy and psychotic projection that Croatia would become a rich and prosperous country simply because of legal marijuana – to smoke and get high on.

Given this submission by Pernar for marijuana legalisation it would seem that General Zeljko Glasnovic’s loudly articulated opinion in parliament, on the same day, that Pernar was suffering from a bipolar disorder may not have been too far off the mark even if it was delivered in relation to Pernar’s reportedly flippant attitude in the chamber during discussions on key and important issues for the country. Certainly, close attention to Pernar’s speech in parliament on the benefits of legalising marijuana justifiably leads one to conclude, professionally qualified or not, that Pernar’s expressed thoughts are strongly suggestive of some mental aberration – perhaps more serious than a containable bipolar disorder.

Much of the media, though, went on to say how Glasnovic had insulted Pernar and yet failed miserably at noticing that Pernar with his submission to parliament regarding legalisation of marijuana actually insulted the prevailing morality and the intelligence of the majority of Croatian people. Double standards astound – always.

So much for a large part of the mainstream media in Croatia, which seemingly thrives on or makes up scandals on a national scale where there are none, but fails gut wrenchingly as a gatekeeper and watchdog of sound national intelligence and decent morality. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

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