Sunday, November 16, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Bad Company

This election is not going to be won or lost on billboards, but Sanader's crew nevertheless made huge mistake by issuing new propaganda poster in which HDZ leader shares company with various European politicians, all endorsing his party as "pro-European".

The idea behind this poster (and corresponding TV ad) is to convince voters that HDZ victory wouldn't hamper Croatian chances for EU entry – something that SDP propaganda tried to imply in their campaigns. According to ads, Sanader has "his men" in EU institutions who would lobby for Croatian interests more efficiently than Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan).

This ad is going to more harm than good for Sanader. Trying to connect HDZ with few faces that mean nothing to average Croatian voters isn't going to win any votes. On the contrary, right-wing section of electorate might remember all rants about Račan's government selling Croatian banks and state companies to foreigners. And how Sanader is relying on? Foreigners! In exchange for what?

The most damaging about this ad is, of course, presence of Silvio Berlusconi. Considering his unpopularity in Europe, Berlusconi is political ad poison, and if Račan had some brains, he would quickly design counter-campaign using Berlusconi as his favourite weapon.

First of all, Berlusconi is perceived as crook. Sanader tried to sell his party as new, reformed and cleansed from "crooks".

Second, most of Croatians are dead set against war in Iraq. Sanader, on the other hand, wholeheartedly supported war. Berlusconi, apart from Blair, is most famous (or notorious) of all Croatian politicians supporting war in Iraq. Seeing Berlusconi's face on the ad, electorate is going to be reminded of Sanader's views.

Third, Berlusconi expressed his admiration for Mussolini and has post-fascists in his cabinet. By embracing Berlusconi, Sanader risks tying himself to Mussolini's main WW2 ally in this area. And in Dalmatia, where Sanader is from, Mussolini's main ally is forever associated with most shameful real estate deals. Whenever Sanader accuses SDP of "treason", Račan (Racan) could answer with Berlusconi's picture.

But Sanader has nothing to be afraid of, at least not from Račan (Racan) who dreams of HDZ as his ideal coalition partner.


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