Wednesday, September 10, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Ingratitude

Sanader probably didn't greet news of HSLS-DC coalition negotiations failure with much enthusiasm, but today he would have some comfort in two parties from governing coalition suffering the same fate.

Only, this time it wouldn't affect the results of elections that much. SDP and Libra failed to reach understanding before elections, so both parties are going to the polls separately. For SDP that might be minor annoyance. For Libra it is complete disaster – opinion polls give it barely 1-2 %, so it is very unlikely that they would have a single seat in Sabor after elections.

Libra members probably feel not only desperate, but betrayed and humiliated. Whole purpose of their party was to allow its members to keep their seats in Sabor and ministerial positions. They did it by betraying their old party – HSLS – and pledging allegiance to Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and SDP. One of their leaders, deputy minister Goran Granić (Goran Granic), is one of the most loyal and most efficient of all Račan's associates. It was Libra votes that allowed Račan to survive confidence vote in Summer 2002 and thus humiliate Budiša.

However, at the eve of new election Račan showed very little gratitude to Libra. Large number of Libra MSes might indeed boosted Račan in Sabor, but its 1-2 % of votes is of relatively little importance at the upcoming polls. When it came to creation of candidates' lists, Račan had to think more of its own lieutenants and their factions than of his partners in Cabinet and Sabor. SDP, which had already secured joint ticket with IDS in Istria and Rijeka region, is going to pay more attention to various regional players than for Libra, which hasn't got much of a base on the ground.

Nevertheless, this episode shows that things loyalty at times can be quite counter-productive. Following the break-up of negotiations, Libra MSes began to criticise new budget proposal by the government, thus becoming de facto opposition. But few months before elections it has very little importance.

Furthermore, Libra prospects at the elections are horrible. Even if it offers itself to other players, it could be snubbed by almost everyone. Budiša's HSLS would have nothing to do with people who betrayed him; HDZ would undermine its own status of opposition party; many other parties would think of aligning itself with such opportunists as counter-productive. The only small chance for Libra lies within HNS trying to gather "centre" vote by making joint tickets with LS (its ideological twin) and Libra (in order to make Račan angry).


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