Wednesday, December 22, 2004

[ELECTION 2005] Kosor Betrays Feminists

One of the rare surprises in this, otherwise dull presidential campaign was the endorsement Jadranka Kosor, a candidate of right-wing HDZ party, gained from the leaders of few Croatian feminists NGOs – the people who were supposed to root for left-wing and centre-parties. It turns out that gender solidarity and having a powerful ally was more important than strictly political and ideological considerations.

This endorsement was short-lived. After being denounced as traitors by the militant B.a.b.e. group, other feminists leaders tried to explain their support for Kosor as some kind of misunderstanding. It embarrassed them, but it served Kosor very well – it helped her shape an image of a "normal", "European", "hip", 21st Century candidate that doesn't have anything to do with patriarchal and troglodyte macho candidates of the far right. At times, even Mesić (Mesic) looked like an embodiment of Balkans macho past compared with "modern" Kosor.

But that was then, and now Kosor needs different sort of allies. Some polls suggest that she has around 30 % of support, while support for Mesić could slip below 50 % and thus allow her to go in the second round. But for that to happen she needs army of HDZ voters – rank-and-file who don't have much understanding for Sanader, Kosor and their born-again Europeanism. Since Sanader and Kosor are unlikely to fire up this base, Kosor needs a long time ally of HDZ – Catholic Church – to push HDZ voters to the polls after Sunday sermons.

In today's Jutarnji list Kosor uses this trump by expressing her opposition to abortion. If elected, Kosor would advocate that abortion be banned following a referendum.

This idea is interesting and referendum would be good opportunity to finally establish what Croatian people think about the whole issue. Regular parliamentary and presidential elections, after which elected candidates tend not to follow ideological principles or honour election promises, aren't the best way to do it. Referendum, which narrows everything on single issue and a simple choice, is much better and the verdict will be ultimately more legitimate.

Other candidates, however, aren't that enthusiastic about Kosor's inititative. Idea of referendum (or a ban) was immediately dismissed by Mesić, Đurđa Adlešić (Djurdja Adlesic), Slaven Letica and Boris Mikšić (Boris Miksic) – candidates who might have different ideologies but who share same pro-choice stance for whole variety of reasons.

Of course, Kosor can afford to be a good Catholic and push for this because she isn't likely to be elected and even if she does, the referendum is in the hands of Sanader and Sabor – institutions unlikely to take the path even Tudjman was reluctant to take.


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