Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Burning Bridges

More than two years ago I blogged about Dr. Ivo Banac and wrote that his take-over of LS leadership was a bad idea. Qualities that make someone a great scholar and respected Feral Tribune columnist aren’t exactly qualities that guarantee success in the world of Croatian politics.

His taking over Ministry of Urbanism and Environmental Protection during the last months of Ivica Račan’s (Ivica Racan’s) government wasn’t good idea either.

LS lost elections together with SDP and later succumbed to another split, this time over something which was actually a good idea – fusing LS, Libra and HNS into one big centre party. Ivo Banac didn’t handle that very well and, consequently, lost party chairmanship to Zlatko Benašić (Zlatko Benasic), representative of faction that seems to favour alliance with more right-wing parties like HSLS and HDZ.

Few days ago Banac, apparently disgusted with the way LS switched direction, abandoned the party and called all members who share his views to do the same.

Despite the calls of LS to “do the decent thing” – resign and turn his seat to the loyal representative of the party under which ticket he had been elected – he decided to remain in Sabor as independent representative.

Few days before that, HNS and Libra fused into new party – thus turning part of Ivo Banac’s dream into reality. The logical for Banac was, therefore, to join this new party.

He, however, refused to do it and found pretty a good excuse in the very same phenomenon that had led to the LS fiasco – local politics. LS, despite aggressively left-leaning and anti-Tudjmanist on national level, was co-operating and forming coalitions with HDZ in local and regional assemblies. Because Banac had little understanding for the material and other needs of LS rank-and-file, this was always the source of tensions within the party.

Now Banac, to his horror, realised that HNS – one of the most vocal opposition party – and HSLS, increasingly right-wing party which supports Sanader’s government – are in the process of a major deal before upcoming local and regional elections. HNS is prepared to support HSLS candidate Ivan Čehok (Ivan Cehok) for the mayor of Varaždin (Varazdin). HSLS, in return, will support former Radimir Čačić (Radimir Cacic), former Varaždin mayor and one of HNS most prominent leaders, in his bid for the seat of Varaždin County governor.

For Banac this kind of horse-trading was unacceptable and Banac expressed in such way that would hardly win him any sympathies within HNS leadership. It is very likely that for Banac this term in Sabor is hist last.


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