Saturday, April 05, 2003

How to Lose Seat in Parliament

SDP is going to lose one of their Sabor seats in rather bizarre manner.
It is not uncommon for political parties in Croatia to lose seats between elections. During Tudjman years it was natural for members of Sabor to change their affiliations, even those who used to be elected on the basis of proportional representation rather than as individual candidates in single districts.

But proportional representation seems to be the reason why SDP is going to lose its Sabor seat. To make things more interesting, they are going to lose because they fared very well in certain area. In 2000 Zlatko Šešelj (Zlatko Seselj) was replacement candidate on joint SDP-HSLS-PGS list in VIII Electoral District. The District is known for its strong SDP sympathies and the list won there by landslide. Mato Crkvenac, who was 10th on the list (the district had 14 seats for grabs) later became finance minister and Šešelj replaced him in Sabor.

Through time Šešelj, widely respected as independent-minded intellectual and the principal of first private high school in Zagreb, became so disgusted with the government's education policy. His falling out with SDP escalated and few days ago he announced his resignation from Sabor.

That puts SDP in position to lose seat. If Šešelj goes, his next replacement is going to be member of HSLS. In the meantime, SDP and HSLS broke their coalition partnership and Šešelj resignation threatens to give extra seat to opposition. SDP leaders reportedly are trying to convince Šešelj to change his mind. Loss of one seat wouldn't make much difference in Sabor, but such event would represent huge blow for SDP some six months before elections.


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