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Monday, January 17, 2005

Not Magnanimous In Victory

Last evening, immediately after the polls had closed, HDZ was in full damage limitation mode. Their representatives began to wear carefully prepared smiles on their faces and explain that Jadranka Kosor's 35 % represents a "huge victory" because "based on that result, HDZ continues to be the strongest party in Croatia".

However, even more telling is sharp contrast between the way HDZ treated President Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) before and after the election. After weeks for being called all kinds of names, criticised for "betraying first Croatian President", and selling "Croatian heroes and martyrs" down the river, Mesić suddenly became "a president they look forward to continue a cooperation they had in previous year". Sanader and other HDZ leaders also said that "campaign rhetoric shouldn't be taken so seriously".

Stipe Mesić didn't take this olive branch. In his first statements he called the campaign "dirty" and continued to slam defence minister Berislav Rončević (Berislav Roncevic) over some questionable truck purchases for Croatian Army.

Lijanović (Lijanovic) Brothers, Herzegovina meat packing tycoons who happened to be his campaign donors, used the victory celebration as an opportunity to launch their new brand product – Stipina Pašteta (Stipina Pasteta), liver paste named after President. This was more than obvious reference to his defeated rival who had taken a great offence in Mesić's use of liver paste as a metaphor for the omnipresence of Kosor's campaign ads.

Lack of magnanimity in Mesić and his supporters can be explained with the local and regional elections which are scheduled for April 17th. Mesić might be lame duck president who is more than able to forget HDZ for all campaign sins and continue with cohabitation. However, Mesić owes his second mandate, among other things, to the support of opposition parties and their voter. Now he must pay back for this favour by slamming HDZ in next three months.

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