Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The Age of Certainty

While commenting on another blog few weeks ago, I predicted Bush's victory. So, for one simple and not so important reason, I feel vindicated.

I based my assumption on the experiences of Croatia 1992. On August 2nd Croatia had its first presidential elections, held together with elections for Sabor. At the time Croatia was in situation in some ways similar to USA – at war and with president who was intensely disliked by small yet very vocal opposition.

The fact that presidential and parliamentary elections were held at the same time led to an interesting phenomenon in Istria. That region of Croatia never had the taste for virulent hard-line nationalism embodied in President Franjo Tudjman. Istrians, often accused of being Yugo-nostalgics, separatists, Italian irredentists, have used 1992 elections as an opportunity to express their separate political identity by embracing their regional party IDS. All three electoral districts from Istria went to IDS with 40-55 % of margin, unprecedented for any Croatian opposition party at that time.

At the same time Franjo Tudjman was challenged on presidential polls by Dražen Budiša (Drazen Budisa), relatively young, popular and charismatic leader of HSLS, Croatia's main opposition party. Budiša won around 27 % of the vote nationally and in some areas, like in more urban districts of Split, he fielded enough votes to claim victory during election night (just before rural returns sent his presidential ambition to smithereens).

However, in Istria Budiša, who should have expected to carry that region, fell behind Tudjman. Istrian voters didn't like Tudjman but they preferred familiar face to the uncertainty that Budiša's presidency might bring. (Their suspicions were ultimately proven after 2000 elections and increasingly right-wing Budiša wrecking governing left-centre coalition.)

I think that similar thing happened in USA. Most American voters probably didn't like Bush, his policies or the way he carried them. But in a time of war they preferred familiarity and certainty over the mere possibility that the challenger could be worse.


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