Friday, December 31, 2004

[ELECTION 2005] Election? What Election?

Today is not only the last day of 2004. In Croatia it is the last day of presidential campaign.

At midnight starts so-called "electoral silence" during which candidates are forbidden to campaign and the only ads allowed are those with technical instructions for voting. The election is going to be held on January 2nd and few hours before midnight Croatian people will probably know whether there will be second round on January 16th or not.

I really intended to blog more about this election. However, the campaign was so short, so uneventful and so predictable that I came to the conclusion that its more extensive coverage will be a waste of time.

The only event which could have been potentially interesting – debate between current President Stjepan Mesić (Stjepan Mesic) and his HDZ challenger Jadranka Kosor, which was advertised on RTL Televizija – was cancelled after Kosor's refusal to face her main rival. RTL Televizija instead aired Dumb and Dumber and many see this programming choice as some sort of comment on the candidates and the race itself.

From the very start Mesić was so favoured to win that he didn't even bother to organise proper campaign. Kosor was immediately branded as underdog and her eventual entry into second round is going to be viewed as incredible achievement. More interesting were second tier candidates which saw campaign as an opportunity for personal promotional rather than serious bid for presidential power. It seems that among them the best job was done by businessman Boris Mikšić (Boris Miksic) – combination of good advertising and Croatian public wanting to see some fresh face in politics contributed to his surge in the latest polls.

The last and, in most likelihood, the most credible poll was the grand field survey conducted by Jutarnji list and RTL Televizija. Some 5000 people were polled and the result indicate Mesić's victory in first round. He would get 50.1 %, Kosor would get 20.5 %, Mikšić will get 11.3 %.

Survey also shows disappointing results for some of "serious" politicians – Slaven Letica, once branded as biggest intellectual among Croatian politicians, is going to receive 4.8 %. Đurđa Adlešić (Djurdja Adlesic), mayor of Bjelovar, failed to extend her support outside her home base and is stuck on 3.5 %.

Small right-wing candidates – those who were supposed to be attack dogs for Kosor – fared disappointingly in this survey. Ljubo Ćesić-Rojs (Ljubo Cesic-Rojs) has 2.9 %, Miroslav "Ćiro" Blažević is at 2.3 %, Ivić Pašalić (Ivic Pasalic) is at 1.3 % and Anto Kovačević at 1.1 %.

List of third tier candidates is led by "Vedic sciences student" Miroslav Rajh who will received 1 %. He is followed by Mladen Kešer (Mladen Keser), young Eurosceptic populist who received 0.7 % . Doris Košta (Doris Kosta) had 0.4 % while Tomislav Petrak 0.2 %.

Agency that conducted survey predicts, despite relatively slim margin in the poll, that Mesić will comfortably win second round. Most of the undecided will flock to him.

The only thing that could lead to second round and any major upset – like Mikšić (who, according to survey, has second place in City of Zagreb) beating Kosor – is the turnout. Election being held immediately after New Year's Day, with people tired or affected with hangover, is not likely to bring people to polls. Low turnout traditionally favours HDZ with its disciplined voters, this time aided by Croatian guest workers that came to celebrate Christmas holidays – this group is traditionally more loyal to HDZ than voters in Croatia proper.


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