Sunday, September 21, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Great Expectations

Saturday is traditionally day when Croatian political parties hold rallies, conventions, important conferences and media events. Yesterday was a good opportunity for party leaders not only to remind Croatian electorate of their own importance (or mere existence) before upcoming elections, but also for them to express their own election results estimates.

Dražen Budiša (Drazen Budisa) and Mate Granić (Mate Granic) seem to be most optimistic of them all. They have recently made deal and their respective parties – HSLS and DC – would go to the polls united on the joint ticket (or joint tickets in all of 10 districts). For those two such deal looks like a triumphal achievement in itself and they expect some 20-25 seats and third strongest delegation in Sabor.

Ante Đapić (Anto Djapic), leader of HSP, far right party which has been recently "de-Ustashasised" and transformed into "modern conservative right-wing party" – in other words, had the big picture of Ante Pavelić (Ante Pavelic) removed from its party headquarters – is more modest and expects only 10-14 seats.

Ivić Pašalić (Ivic Pasalic), leader of HB, announces grand coalition with HIP, and actually spelled out some sort of political programme in its announcement. HB would, once in power, repeal Same Sex Unions Act. How would HB do it is hard to tell, since Pašalić expects only 18 seats, which is far from necessary majority.

Of course, the real question is would all those expectations have any link with real results in November? The biggest reason for scepticism is not in those parties' programmes or their leaders' characters. The real problem for HSLS, DC, HSP, HB and HIP is in the mere fact that they all must snatch the votes from the very same electorate on Croatian right. And, to make matters even worse, Croatian right also includes Sanader's HDZ, which usually fares much better on elections than in opinion polls. Usually at the expense of smaller parties, including the likes of HSLS, DC, HSP, HB and HIP.

On the left side, Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) is more cautious and more modest in its estimates. So far, SDP has one solid coalition deal – with IDS in VIII Electoral District (Istria and Rijeka) – and Račan there expects 8 out 14 seats.

In the meantime, "grand" coalition of HSLS and DC might have some of those great expectations reduced by the malcontents in their own ranks. In X Electoral District Dražen Budiša (Drazen Budisa) has managed to persuade local DC leader Doris Košta (Doris Kosta) to take a dive and satisfy herself with 3rd spot on the candidates' list (which makes her election rather unlikely). But he also made surprise decision to put local HSLS leader Frano Garac on #2 spot, instead of Ivica Škarić (Ivica Skaric), former mayor of Split and his chief ally. Škarić doesn't like the arrangement that would leave him outside of Sabor and there are speculations about him going into election as independent candidate (and thus torpedoing his own party).


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