Friday, July 04, 2003

Eastern Front

HDZ central leadership has joined the chorus of Croatian public denouncing Vukovar youth soccer tournament, apparently unimpressed with the fact that the local HDZ chieftains were responsible for the case.

In the meantime, some of the hardest pre-election salvos were fired in Eastern Slavonia. Ladislav Bognar, former governor of Osijek-Baranja County, nowadays SDP assemblyman in Osijek-Baranja County Assembly, made serious accusation against Branimir Glavaš (Branimir Glavas), charismatic and controversial Tudjman-era warlord and current HDZ boss of Eastern Slavonia. Bognar accuses Glavaš of being involved in the 1992 murder of Mate Šabić (Mate Sabic), charismatic leader of Osijek city militia.

Glavaš struck back by accusing Bognar of being involved in failed 1992 Croatian Army attempt of chasing Serb forces from Baranja.

In the meantime, there are speculations that the real force behind Bognar's attack is not SDP but Ivić Pašalić (Ivic Pasalic), leader of HB and former right hand of Tudjman. During the war Glavaš used to be portrayed as dangerous, irresponsible and unstable extremist, often accused of bad treatment of Serb civilians behind Croatian lines and on many occasions he even dared to be insubordinate to Tudjman. After the war Glavaš somewhat reinvented his image as "modern European" politician. His controversial war record was almost forgotten following his decision to support Sanader's faction during its struggle with former Tudjman's right hand Ivić Pašalić (Ivic Pasalic). Blinded by their hate towards Pašalić, many Croatian commentators hailed Sanader's victory in HDZ internal struggle and few of them bothered with some of the questionable methods with which Glavaš had secured necessary votes for Sanader.

Now, this unprecedented attack on Glavaš from SDP assemblyman represents a novelty in post-Tudjman Croatian politics – HDZ politicians were often accused of many things, but rarely of being involved in murder. And being accused by usually timid SDP was almost unheard of. This could mean that SDP would take next elections seriously and use any available method to put as much mud on HDZ as possible.

Another speculation tells of Pašalić being behind this. Pašalić knows that his HB with 2 % of electoral support (according to latest IRI poll) hasn't got chance in entering Sabor. The only way for him to return to power would be to de-throne Sanader and take helm of HDZ, its party infrastructure and loyal voting base (some solid 26 %, according to the poll). HDZ failure to win next election would undoubtedly lead to Sanader's downfall – in his zeal to make his party "post-Tudjman" and purge it from real and alleged Pašalić supporters, Sanader has alienated plenty of rank-and-file HDZ members. Pašalić would, therefore, be quite happy to see HDZ defeated on next elections, so it isn't hard to imagine him being the source of information leading to accusations against Glavaš.


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