Thursday, February 19, 2004

HNS in Trouble

According to conventional criteria, HNS should be viewed as a party with few reasons to be dissatisfied with results of 2003 elections. From 2 seats in Sabor they jumped to 11 and are third party in Croatian Sabor. Furthermore, they are establishing themselves as most promising force within left-centre opposition – especially among those dissatisfied SDP voters who have trouble with Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and his "constructive" form of opposition.

But HNS is in trouble. The party has increased its number of seats in Sabor, but it lost power. This usually leads to frustrations and frustrations leads to factional struggles. Those struggles became ugly in Zagreb when Mislav Žagar (Mislav Zagar), chairman of Zagreb City HNS organisation, left HNS together with 13 of the highest party officials.

He explained his move by accusing party leadership of "lacking democratic principles" and "being involved in corruption". More cynical observers, however, see in this the work of SDP, namely its Zagreb deputy mayor Milan Bandić (Milan Bandic) who has been at odds with his nominal city coalition partners for months. With 3 of 11 HNS city councillors becoming independent, Bandić could prepare ground for the formal break-up, new elections and possible elimination of HNS as Račan's (Racan's) most dangerous rival on national level.


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