Friday, November 28, 2003

Račan (Racan) Had It Coming

Whether the last elections represents tragedy or blessing for Croatia is a question that would be answered in the future. Another thing is more certain – Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) should have very small of people to blame for his defeat, and he should start from himself.

The most obvious example of Račan digging his own grave is the decision to leave electoral legislation intact. Not only did he allow 3-4 diaspora seats for HDZ, but he kept some of the most blatant gerrymandering in the history of Europe – city of Zagreb being sliced into small districts, each having small urban base flooded with pro-HDZ rural vote. Like I wrote previously, in 2000 landslide that didn't matter; in 2003 electoral law itself gave at least 5-10 extra seats to HDZ. Račan was supposed to be aware of this, but he decided not to do anything about it, despite clear majority in Parliament. For this alone he should receive political equivalent of Darwin Award.

Few governments had such a clear and overwhelming mandate to make radical changes in national policies like Ivica Račan in 2000. Few parties were in such state of disarray like HDZ in 2000. But in only three years Račan managed to waste all of those disadvantages and allow political corpse of HDZ to come to life.

The reason for that is very simple – indecision, the trait inherited from the time when Račan used to be Party aparatchick. This trait, that allowed him to survive turbulent 1990s and emerge as the best hope of Croatian democracy, didn't serve him well once in power. He refused to take decisive steps even when certain policies, certain developments and certain individuals threatened his very own survival. Instead of decisive action, he preferred half-hearted measures and media spin to cover for such inadequacies. But the people saw through it – both those who were supposed to be his allies and those who remained his enemies. He alienated the former and emboldened the latter.

Of course, his disastreous handling of Croatia and shameful defeat of his party aren't reasons enough for him to step down. With SDP being second party in Sabor, he still clings to illusion that the Croatian people, when it gets disenchanted with Sanader in next three or four years, would select him to lead another change of government. Račan might be ultimate political survivor, but, judging by present situation, this seems beyond his abilities.


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