Sunday, October 26, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Good News For Račan (Racan)

While "official" opinion polls show that his government would have to fight uphill battle to stay in power, one opinion poll conducted today would undoubtedly warm heart of Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and fill his followers with much-needed optimism.

Today's edition u Nedjeljom u 2, Croatian state television talk show hosted by Aleksandar Stanković (Aleksandar Stankovic), hosted Dr. Andrija Hebrang, one of current leaders of HDZ. Hebrang, son of Croatian Communist leader arrested and allegedly murdered by Tito's regime in 1948, enjoys reputation of a more "modern" or "moderate" faces of HDZ. Soft-spoken and physician by trade (and leader of a medical team that prolonged Tudjman's life for at least two years), Hebrang doesn't share the burden of arrogance, corruption and chauvinism that plagues other HDZ leaders. Even his gross incompetence in handling Health Ministry during Tudjman's reign (which brought him nickname "Doctor Mengele" following series of scandalous incidents resulting in patients' deaths) was forgiven during his brief stint as defence minister – position from which he was booted following row with Tudjman's right-hand man Ivić Pašalić (Ivic Pasalic), now booted from HDZ and forced to form his own HB party. If HDZ wants to gain elections – or, more precisely, convince HDZ-unfriendly voters that its return to power won't represent national tragedy – it needs more faces like Hebrang.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to listen to the show until the very end, but I saw the results of phone survey which was held during the show. Stanković asked audience whether the right-wing coalition, once in power, was able to improve conditions in Croatia. 60% of voters said "no" and 40 % said "yes".

Of course, this phone survey doesn't carry the same weight with "official" opinion polls, but it nevertheless reflects majority of Croatian opinion. Most Croatians don't believe that the very same crowd that had ruined Croatia in its first decade of independence is able to improve their lives. The only problem is that the sentiment extends to the present government, and rightly so.

On a related note, results of phone survey are even more devastating for HDZ when compared with last week's show in which the guest was Zlatko Canjuga, former Tudjman's advisor, part-time talk-show host and one of the most despised public personalities in Croatia. Despite Stanković's relentless (and rather unneeded) attempts to remind audience of Canjuga's role in some of the most shameful episodes of Tudjman's reign, Canjuga won the similar phone survey with 53 % to 47 %.


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