Thursday, January 30, 2003

Pink Issues, Holiday Resorts and Balance of Power

Luka Trconić (Luka Trconic), one of HSS leaders, announced that HSS won't obstruct the passing of new Family Act. That means the end of HSS attempts to knock out "same sex unions" from the text. Trconić, of course, used more diplomatic language, saying that HSS members of Sabor are going to vote "on their conscience".

This is an attempt to sit on two chairs. When confronted by its arch-conservative rural constituence, HSS MSes would say that they didn't vote for "unnatural unions". When confronted by their moderate right wing counterparts in Western Europe, they would say that they didn't block the reforms.

But the real story behind this change of heart probably has something to do with "Sunčani Hvar" (Suncani Hvar) affair – scandal that was supposed to be just another routine privatisation of those few state-owned companies that survived Tudjman's era. "Sunčani Hvar" was offered for sale and the best deal – or so they say – came in the form of "Terme Čatež" (Terme Catez), firm that happens to be Slovenian. There was nothing wrong with Slovenian firms buying property in Croatia and few people got alarmed by Slovenian retail stores becoming serious competition to Croatian retailers in last year or so. But the problem arose when one of "Čatež" stockholders turned out to be Ljubljanska Banka – institution that had, with the blessing of Slovenian government, swindled thousands of Croatian citizens during the break-up of former Yugoslavia. That, and the pressure from local HSS bigwigs who had their own financial interests, forced Tomčić (Tomcic) to raise the issue and stop the sale from going forward. What resulted was the biggest feud in the history of otherwise stable relationship between SDP and HSS. SDP insisted that Croatia fulfils its obligations, while HSS insisted that the deal get voided.

Same sex unions seem to be the price HSS paid for stopping the deal and taking control of HFP (Croatian Privatisation Fund) – government body that used to be run by HSLS cadre until Budiša (Budisa) got booted by Račan (Racan). Tomčić would probably see this as a good bargain – HSS gets lucrative cash cow, while SDP gets few more European taps on the shoulder and probably hundred or so votes more (from those mythical 10% of Croatian gays and lesbians who are supposed to flood the polling stations in a less than a year).


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