Saturday, January 22, 2005

A Time For Reflection

Ivo Sanader in his first reactions to Jadranka Kosor's loss at presidential election and questions about their possible effect on HDZ chances on upcoming local and regional elections sounded very optimistic. He said that he was very pleased with Kosor's percentage and that Kosor's loss won't affect local elections because "they are completely different contest".

Less than a week later HDZ leadership had its first major conference and it appeared that Kosor's loss had some effect on local elections after all.

Before presidential election most people believed that the local and regional elections would be held on April 17th. Normally, local elections are held on the third week of May and were so in 1997 and 2001. However, due to unpredictable nature of local and regional politics and difficulties in forming coalition-based local and regional governments, Sanader proposed that the election date be little bit sooner. This was supposed to leave extra month for coalition talks and allow many coastal communities to have their local and regional governments ready before the start of tourist season.

However, it seems that some things that had happened during and immediately after the presidential election made Sanader and HDZ leaders change their minds. The local and regional elections are going to be held on May 15th.

Reasons for that could be found in surprising aggressiveness of Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) who doesn't have to worry about re-election and whose mandate – based on almost two thirds of all Croatian voters – allows him to discard all pre-election niceties and retaliate for all the dirt HDZ used during the campaign. Mesić all but announced that he would campaign for SDP, HSS, HNS and other opposition parties before local and regional elections. Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and other leaders, who had been very quiet and subdued after their November 2003 loss at parliamentary elections, feel emboldened and want to use this momentum.

HDZ, despite Kosor's loss being expected, will need some time to adjust to new reality, some of them not so pleasant. The biggest problem for HDZ is far right, whose backers and even some parties used this election to express their displeasure with Sanader's pro-European policies and "gentler and kinder" image of new HDZ. At local levels that may create major difficulty for the party that depends on right-wing electorate. Independent candidates and right-wing populists might expect to benefit from disgruntled HDZ voters in more spectacular fashion that Boris Mikšić (Boris Miksic) did on presidential election.

So, one extra month for preparing tourist season was sacrificed for the sake of one extra month for ruling party to lick its wounds.


Post a Comment

<< Home