An Inconvenient Constitution
Upcoming presidential elections continue to be source of excitement and unpredictability despite their ultimate outcome being more or less certain. After Sanader chose to put his trusted ally Jadranka Kosor into the losing battle with Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic), another great mystery is the exact date of the election.
Croatian Constitution leaves relatively short timeframe for the elections to be held. Due to Christmas holiday season, the earliest practical date is December 21st, which just happens to be Tuesday. If that date sticks, Sanader's government is going to treat it as temporary holiday ("non-working day" in Croatian legal vocabulary).
All that didn't sit well within Croatian business community. Since December 21st is the day when many Croatians do their Christmas shopping, they already calculated immense loss of revenue due to one extra day of holidays. If the elections by any chance go to the second round, the loss is going to be doubled.
Needless to say, in present circumstances it quite certain that the Croatian business leaders, regardless of their political persuasions, would prefer only one lost day or, in other words, Mesić comfortably winning in the first round. It is very likely that at least some of them would express that preference by campaign donations and other forms of support of Mesić – for the sole purpose of having all that unpleasant formality over in the shortest amount of time as possible.
Sanader's government is becoming aware of such sentiments and Sanader, personally and through his proxies, floated some alternatives.
One of the more spectacular and more talked about is the rapid change of Constitution. The precedent for that already exists. In 2001, at the eve of the elections for House of Counties (where HDZ had majority, elected in 1997), upper chamber of Sabor, ruling non-HDZ coalition has decided to circumvent elections by simply removing House of Counties from Constitution.
Sanader tries to repeat the manoeuvre and lure votes by offering to put Bosniacs and Slovenians in Constitution preamble and thus win support by ethnic minority representatives. Unlike Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) three years ago, Sanader lacks necessary two-thirds majority in Sabor. Račan, who is now in the opposition, is very reluctant to bring those votes, at least not without some major horse-trading that could make him look good.
In the meantime, first polls show that Kosor would have many roads to travel before becoming serious contender. According to the latest polls, Mesić enjoys support of 54 % voters while Kosor can expect three times less – 18 %. And, despite pro-Kosor feminist rhetoric, Kosor enjoys bigger support among male than female voters.