Saturday, October 11, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Minority Government?

Details about famous IRI opinion poll are slowly trickling in, and government-controlled or government-friendly media had to spend few days before admitting that, according to the results, Račan (Racan) won't be new prime minister. Right wing opposition parties (HDZ, HSLS-DC and HSP) together can field 42% of the votes, while parties of governing coalition can expect 37 % of the votes.

However, this still leaves 21% of the votes being cast (or wasted, to be more precise) on small parties with little or no chance of entering Sabor. Some of mall parties actually might get in Sabor by breaking 5% ceiling in individual electoral districts and some of parties that can expect 5 % on national level wouldn't win seats in some districts. IRI poll, however, took electoral districts into consideration and, according to estimates, right-wing opposition can expect 71 seat to government's 66.

Ivo Sanader, however, still has some work to do, because those 71 seats is far from clear majority. Major snag is at least 2-3 seats reserved for "Croatian diaspora" (Croatian citizens living abroad) and 8 seats reserved for ethnic minorities. While HDZ can expect seats from Tudjman-worshipping emigrants (whose description of Račan's government often give impression that Communist Yugoslavia never ceased to exist), ethnic minorities are more comfortable with Račan, who is, at least verbally, less chauvinistic than Tudjmanists.

When all is said and done, IRI poll points to incredibly tight election race, which would be won or lost by couple of percentages or couple of seats; Račan (Racan), even with such numbers, could hope to regain power with the help of ethnic minority MSes (Serbs, Italians, Czechs etc.). And the gridlock – both sides having exactly the same number of MSes – isn't out of question, which might lead to something that the more cynical observers of Croatian politics had expected all along – grand coalition between HDZ and SDP.

Interestingly enough, despite the numbers that indicate tight race, the electorate seems disinterested for the elections and the election campaign, despite its official start, is pale and boring compared with previous ones.


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