Thursday, January 08, 2004

Fresh Blood?

For a party which was all but wiped out during the latest elections (and even got shafted by its supposed ally HDZ during post-election coalition talks after winning only two seats), HSLS has quite interesting leadership struggle. After resignation of HSLS long-time leader and Croatia's politics eternal loser Dražen Budiša (Drazen Budisa) most pundits saw young, energetic and successful Mladen Čehok (Mladen Cehok) – one of two HSLS candidates to enter Sabor – as shoo-in for Budiša's replacement. But someone new has entered contest – Marija Fićurin (Marija Ficurin), 28-year old English teacher from Zadar. According to media reports, Fićurin's candidacy was not particularly well-received by party establishment but Fićurin claims that her youth and female gender could be only an advantage. If she wins, she could be the youngest major (if HSLS is to be called major) party leader in Croatia.

On the other hand, although HSLS definitely need fresh faces and although HSLS really needs to regain its liberal credential by overcoming gender barriers, having woman at its helm could very well have negative consequences for party future. Croatian voters don't like women in high places, and both SDP and HNS suffered from not taking patriarchal, conservative and macho sentiments of majority of Croatian electorate. Then again, HSLS is not supposed to pander to great unwashed masses.


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