Croatia In Political Disarray

Croatian Parliament had its last sitting for the Spring season on Friday 12 July 2019 just ahead of a two-month break. However not before the Speaker announced that all MPs may be recalled for an extraordinary sitting during the Summer break. That is, a special, extraordinary sitting of Parliament would be organised in order for MPs to vote for a reconstructed government! Once again in a matter of couple of years the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) led government is in strife amidst scandals and allegations of corrupt dealings surrounding some of its ministers. Public Administration Minister Lovro Kuscevic has resigned his position last week amidst serious suspicions of corruption and illegal personal wealth amassment through land dealings on his native Island of Brac. He is now on back benches in Parliament and that fact is causing enormous public outcry from people on the streets who say that the indications of his corrupt character should preclude him from sitting in the Parliament. The opposition, particularly the Social Democratic Party (SDP), has reportedly begun gathering signatures for a motion of no-confidence in Regional Development and EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Zalac, Agriculture Minister Tomislav Tolusic and State Assets Minister Goran Maric over their alleged involvement in corruption scandals, personal wealth amassment through suspect and fraudulent means as well as causing serious bodily harm to a young girl while driving without a driver’s licence (Minister Zalac). The mainstream media is filled with allegations, suspicions and scandals in which the said government ministers are enveloped. Furthermore, the position of Foreign Affairs Minister is to be soon vacated when Maria Pejcinovic Buric takes up her new post as elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Given that her new position in Council of Europe commences on 18 September 2019, a couple of days after the Croatian Parliament Autumn sitting is to start, it is to be expected that the government will be looking at choosing a new minister to fill her position at Croatia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry before the Parliament resumes its regular sittings. To make things even worse for HDZ its president, Andrej Plenkovic, current Prime Minister of Croatia, is on a serious collision course where his popularity among both the public and “party faithfuls” is reaching dire lows. Internal HDZ party elections seem inevitable where incumbents of top positions, including Plenkovic, may indeed fall off the edge of the proverbial cliff and HDZ emerge with renewed blood in order to save itself from utter shambles, ruin amidst its position in the nation as the political party that created the independent Croatia!

The opposition is calling for new general elections and the government (HDZ) is looking at reconstructing itself, to make it to September 2020 when next general elections are due.

To add oil to the fire of a nation in political disarray things appear worse as candidates for Presidential elections due in December this year “come out of the woodwork”, almost daily. So far it looks like a cheap marketplace where everyone and anyone tries to sell their goods to the people despite the fact that most of the goods on offer are rotten and, frankly, insultingly ridiculous; attempting to convince the nation each can bring about stability and prosperity to the country when, in fact, the skills and professional come strategic leadership track-record of each, alarmingly, leave much to be desired. So far, while the current president Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic has not formally announced she will run for president again those that have proclaimed their candidacy are Miroslav Skoro (a popular musician and PhD in Economics but no acumen in political leadership), Zoran Milanovic (former Prime Minister whose tenure as leader of the past SDP government can safely be described as seriously damaging to both economic progress and development of fully functional democracy), Mislav Kolekusic (court judge, unconvincingly vowing single-handedly to rid Croatia of corruption), Ivan Pernar (a former leader in the relatively new small pro-left political party “Zivi Zid” [Live Wall] from which he recently exited surrounding internal bickering to form his own tiny political party that carries his name), Katarina Peovic (from the Workers Front Alliance, member of Zagreb City council, and an activist who was severely shown up as inconsequential to Croatian politics at the recent elections for the European Parliament), Tomislav Panenic (recently ousted member in the Most [Bridge] of Independent Lists in Parliament under a veil of profound disagreements within that parliamentary club with his Presidential candidacy), Dalija Oreskovic (former head of Croatian Conflict of Interests Commission whose renewal of same tenure was recently rejected by the government and who survived the recent European Parliament elections with severe losses and voter rejection), Vlaho Orepic ( former member of MOST List of Independents now independent MP, former minister of internal affairs whose left political inclination made no strides in fighting against the crippling corruption in Croatia), Goran Jurisic (historian, a political newcomer who announces among other things a program of spiritual renewal in Croatia). It’s still early days as far as Presidential elections are concerned but if the current trend in the number of candidates continues Croatia could easily end up with a President who has dismal voter backing by numbers and that alone is a cause for alarm primarily because it fosters a continuance of confusion and lack of national development strategy and priorities.

Politically, Croatia is in disarray.

Public distrust of elected officials and political candidates as well a the trust in Presidential candidates appears to be reaching a critical point. A point where anger and lost hope for an orderly future where corruption is insignificant meet and combust. Media critics say negative press coverage is contributing to this trend and is weakening Croatian democracy. Certainly, mainstream ignores many political personalities and leaders, particularly those leaning to the conservative or right-wing stance. They are the ones who could contribute to a healthy balance in which positive change is visible and such hope built. But no, the mainstream media rides on scandals of corruption, not to help rid Croatia of it but to build distrust and keep distrust circling around like a bad smell. The media spins stories of corruption in such a way that the scene resembles TV soap operas that never end, that never get closure. Psychologically, this has the effect of mounting in society a certain , and worrying, acceptance of corruption that occurs and that cannot be eradicated from society. And when one adds to this the shockingly drawn out court proceedings for fraud and corruption against individuals (e.g. former Premier Ivo Sanader), which among other things strongly suggests a painfully pathetic lack of determination to put a stop to corruption within public administration, then ones head spins with numbing disbelief that this can occur in a country that paid with rivers of blood for its independence and a chance at full democracy.

Hence, many Croatians believe all politicians are dishonest, hypocritical and power-hungry. In such a poisoned atmosphere the political scene in Croatia is more about survival, or sinking, of individual politicians than about platforms and programs for change that would lead to a better country for all. In such a poisoned atmosphere, where survival of HDZ government depends on its coalition with the small Independent Democratic Serbian Party (SDSS), key issues such as ensuring democracy is not undermined and ridiculed by that very ethnic minority (Serb) go practically unnoticed, or unattended to, where it counts, i.e. with the government. The Serb minority in Croatia largely led by Milorad Pupovac continues on a distressing rampage to justify Serb aggression against Croatia during the 1990’s; continues to claim its ethnic minority rights beyond the reasonable, beyond the points where ethnic minority rights are firmly defined in any democratic country of the Western world. One of the latest examples of this can be found in the Croatian government/taxpayer funded Serb minority magazine “Novosti” (News) headed by Milorad Pupovac. Not only does this minority group publicly, in its article dated 13 July 2019 grotesquely label Croatian Studies within the University of Zagreb milieu of studies as “Ustasha Studies” but it rejects and ridicules the University Senate democratic vote favouring the establishment of the Croatian Studies new study stream on “Demography and Emigration”. This vocal part of Serb minority in Croatia has proven to be the mouthpiece for a continued vilification of Croatian people and its valued diaspora, it continues to spread brutal untruths about WWII Croatia and Croatian activists for an independent Croatia of past; this Serb minority in Croatia continues to justify or rather cover up WWII Judenfrei (Jew Free) Serbia while on a rampage against Croatian people! And the Croatian government continues to fund such activities with no questions asked, with no assessments as to impacts to national stability and security this minority’s pronounced role has in the creation and maintenance of Croatian national distress and political crises. Ina Vukic

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