Thursday, December 16, 2004

[ELECTION 2005] Peculiar Institution

Even before it started, 2005 presidential campaign was marked by the uncertainties and excitement, despite the apparent absence of doubt in the final outcome. There are some signals that Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) might not win in the first round and that the disciplined HDZ voters might give some 30 % to Kosor, thus allowing for some drama in the second round. But Croatian public is currently not amused with such speculations.

Much more interesting are those candidates that went into the race with the full knowledge that they won't win. For them campaign is more a matter of personal prestige, helping their respective parties and laying the ground for somewhat less ambitious political projects in the near future. Needless to say, many of them are more colourful than even the popular jokester Mesić could ever hope to be.

Some of those people have never been in public spotlight before the actual campaign. Croatian media, however, were quick to find some interesting details about those new candidates' past, often at the candidates' expense. Good example is an article in Vjesnik daily which brings a new and interesting addition to the presidential campaign – an issue that was supposed to belong to political campaigns of 19th rather than 21st Century.

One of the people who used presidential campaign to establish himself as a new political star of Croatia is Miroslav Rajh. He has recently founded new party called HSM – Hrvatska stranka mladih (Croatian Party of Youth) – and, himself a young man, advocates the "youth issues" and fights for the rights and interests of Croatian students. He also describes himself as a "student".

However, Vjesnik has dug some potential dirt on Rajh. First they discovered that Rajh belonged to Christian-Vaishnav sect, led by certain Damir Rožman (Damir Rozman). Then they contacted Luka Rocco, one of Christian-Vaishnav Community officials. Rocco said that Municipal State Attorney Office in Samobor is conducting criminal proceeding against Rožman and Rajh under accusation of "holding and transportation of slaves". According to Rocco, Croatian authorities believe that Rajh and Rožman have enslaved Rožman's wife and other members of sect.

Another, potentially even more damaging, revelation comes from Rocco's statement in which he said that Rajh wasn't student "in a formal sense". He didn't study at any Croatian university but, instead, studied "Vedic science at Mr. Rožman".

Those revelations are likely to end Rajh's attempts to emerge as a serious politician. While mostly conservative Croatian voters won't accept any non-Catholic candidate, others are going to brand him as a fraud or, at best, an eccentric.


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