Friday, November 14, 2003

[ELECTIONS 2003] Predictions

One week before the elections the only thing which is to a certain degree certain is HDZ winning biggest number of seats in Sabor.

It is less certain, but very likely that Sanader would fall short of necessary majority and that he would be bound to seek coalition partners.

Ideal partner for HDZ is supposed to be HSLS/DC, but despite their confident stance at the beginning of campaign, that coalition is the most likely to be remembered as the biggest loser of this election. Instead of 20-25 seats they expect, they would be happy to get anything over 5. So, HDZ would have to look for coalition partners elsewhere.

Polls suggest that HSLS/DC misfortune is going to become fortune of HSP. Sanader is, however, going to be rather squeamish about allying with far right party that had pictures of Pavelić (Pavelic) in their offices and their own black-clad party during war. Whole purpose of HSP, just like in Tudjman's days, is to make HDZ look moderate. Sanader is not going to jeopardise that.

Next obvious partner is HSS. Zlatko Tomčić's (Zlatko Tomcic's) party is probably going to win sufficient number of seats for comfortable majority for HDZ-HSS coalition. Ideologically, this coalition makes more sense, since HSS in some areas happen to be even more conservative and right-wing than HDZ, especially after Sanader's "European" make-over. But there are couple of pragmatic issues that would make this coalition very unstable. First one is increasingly anti-European sentiment among rural Croatians who happen to be HSS main electoral base. Another is fact that Tomčić could snatch concessions from humbled Račan (Racan) more easily than from over-confident and arrogant Sanader.

The combination least talked about and most feared is grand coalition between HDZ and SDP. Although both Račan and Sanader claim that they would rather stick in opposition than create this seemingly unnatural liaison, there are precedents for that outside (Austria) and inside Croatia (few small towns where administration is jointly controlled by HDZ and SDP). Both leaders probably have excuses for their party faithfuls – Sanader would appeal to "national reconciliation" between Ustashas and Partisans as the most important segment of Tudjmanist ideology; Račan would in the same time claim that "stable coalition" is necessary for Croatia to enter EU. This idea is being publicly floated by President Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) who had extensive contacts with HDZ before.

In any case, Croatia is going to lose, because it would be deprived of credible opposition. And HDZ winning alone or without SDP is going to result in more of the same, but with enhanced chauvinist rhetoric


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