Monday, January 31, 2005
Political Filmmaking in Croatia
Tragic protagonist of the last presidential elections is Boris Mikšić (Boris Miksic). He, to everyone's, including his own, surprise won second place in the first round, humiliating the favoured and government-sponsored HDZ candidate Jadranka Kosor. However, thanks to
Mikšić made a mistake by trying to extend his short-lived triumph with staging Croatian version of Orange Revolution. However, Croatians' traditional unwillingness for such kind of endeavours, Mikšić's lack of foreign support and organisational infrastructure, as well as fear of things getting out of hand led to the Revolution being stillborn and Mikšić losing credibility of serious politician. To make things worse for him, media, undoubtedly aided by government and mainstream opposition – both scared by legions of Mikšić's protest voters that could damage them at upcoming local elections – applied Plan B and exposed stories about Mikšić being long-time domestic abuser. For many political observers in
After few weeks Mikšić decided to get back in the ring and stay true to his promise of running on the local elections.
Yesterday he had a press conference during which he formally announced that he will run for
However, the person he chose to accompany him at the press conference is most likely to further damage his image of serious candidate. At the conference he had an endorsement of Jakov Sedlar, one of the best known, but also the most disliked of all public figures in
Will Sedlar deliver to Mikšić what Michael Moore failed to deliver to John Kerry? Not likely. Average voter didn't need documentaries to be attracted to Mikšić and his populist message. Intelligentsia, on the other hand, will use Sedlar as a rallying point against Mikšić and do everything in its power to prevent people like him becoming serious factors in Croatian politics.
Sunday, January 30, 2005
[ADMINISTRATIVE] New Blogroll Addition
Pearsall's Books added to blogroll.
RIP Ephraim Kishon (1924 – 2005)
I remember that many years ago on this very date I received Ephraim Kishon's book as a gift. I remembered that because today I heard that Kishon had died a day before.
Today I don't have much time to read books. Those that I read usually don't make me laugh, and none managed to do like those written by Kishon did.
Iraqi Path of Least Resistance
Like most countries today,
However, it seems that estimates of low turnout were premature, to say the least. Turnout was indeed low, but only in Sunni-dominated areas where the voters boycotted the elections, either because of fear or principal disagreement with the whole process. This was apparently more than compensated in Kurdish and Shiite areas where the turnout exceeded even the most optimistic expectations.
So, the election turnout is going to be bigger than expected and whatever government comes out of this process is going to have popular mandate together with legitimacy no other government in history of
Of course, Bush and pro-war camp are going to be ecstatic with this surprising turn of events. The mere fact that election went through despite all the hardships is going to be touted as great victory in struggle that didn't look good in past few months.
The main reason why this should be seen as a great victory for Bush and all those who had supported invasion of
Anti-war camp will, of course, grudgingly admit that some of its worst case
On the other hand, some details of today's elections points to them as potential Pyrrhic victory for Bush and pro-war camp.
One of these details is
It could be argued that at least some of the people who voted today share at least part of the agenda with the militants and insurgents. Most of Iraqis are unhappy with
Iraqis are today probably aware of something that most people in developed democracies tend to forget – voting in elections is the easiest, cheapest and simplest way of political participation for an average individual. It doesn't require individuals to risk life, property or social position by standing for something unpopular. Voting doesn't require financial resources associated with campaigning or free time necessary for demonstrations, strikes or peaceful (or not so peaceful) protests. Voting is, therefore, the most convenient way to express displeasure with government.
And it is very likely that many Iraqis will express that displeasure at the polls – against the government, as well as the force behind it –
With enough time and with global political circumstances changing, this election – touted as glorious Bush's victory – could lead to something that insurgents tried but failed to do with AK-47s, RPGs and suicide bombs.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
Winter Joy in Split
Last night snow fell in
By , most of the snow melted but some of it, especially in shade, actually froze making the streets slippery and dangerous to walk by. Whether this winter joy resulted in serious injuries or increased number of traffic accidents remains to be seen.
Kozjak wasn't very white around , as you might judge based on the photo above.
Second "Constructive Opposition"?
One of the sadder chapters of recent Croatian history is the lack of official opposition in the first two years of its democracy.
On paper, there was a strong opposition, at least judging by the composition of first democratically elected Sabor. While Tudjman and HDZ party won nearly two thirds of seats, nearly a third was taken by Ivica Račan (Ivica Racan) and his ex-Communists.
However, after few months some interesting phenomenon developed in Sabor. MSes from SDP were conspicuously silent during debates and whenever someone voted against government's proposal it was more likely to come from the ranks of HDZ. Some SDP leaders were even more passionate in defence of Tudjman and his policies than the most sycophantic members of HDZ. And, since Tudjman used to run HDZ with iron discipline it tells a lot about the way SDP acted as opposition party.
When asked about that state of affairs – which many saw as de facto coalition between HDZ and SDP - Račan described it as "constructive opposition". Later he would claim that "constructive opposition" was inevitable because SDP shared the major political aim with HDZ - Croatian independence – and didn't want to jeopardise realisation of that aim with "petty criticisms" of things like privatisation, mishandling the war, arms smuggling or human rights abuses.
More cynical observers saw "constructive opposition" as a strategy of survival for the party which many sections of Croatian society saw as embodiment of Communism and
More than a decade has passed and many things changed. But many things are also very much like they used to be in 1990. HDZ is again in power while SDP is strongest opposition party. And, Ivica Račan apparently thinks that this situation warrants another "constructive opposition".
In the last days of presidential campaigns, President Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) together with leaders of HNS, HSS and other opposition parties was surprised to find Ivica Račan having some secretive negotiations with Ivo Sanader, prime minister and leader of ruling HDZ. Almost immediately media began speculating about SDP leaving its former coalition partners in favour of new, this time grand coalition with HDZ.
This new arrangement is, at least at present, more needed by Sanader than by Račan. HDZ rank-and-file might not like the coalition with the party it saw its worst enemy during past few elections. However, HDZ leadership would prefer one strong partner and clear majority in Sabor to the thin majority dependant on petty parties always blackmailing Sanader for their share of pork barrel. Coalition with SDP would also be less embarrassing than present coalition that includes Serb nationalists. At the same time, coalition with Račan could silence all those in
Apart from the obvious benefit of coming to power earlier than anyone expected, Račan could use the grand coalition to increase his party's chances on the local elections, especially in
If asked about it, Račan is ready to use excuse for his "constructive opposition" very much like the one used more than a decade ago. Again it is the great noble aim SDP shares with HDZ and that shouldn't be jeopardised over petty ideological and other differences. Last time it was Croatian independence, this time it is entry to EU.
Ironically, both aims are related to Croatian sovereignty. Last time Račan deprived
Friday, January 28, 2005
Mistakes of Nova TV
Judging by the flood of criticism, Nova TV executives made a greatest mistake possible by trying to raise their poor ratings with the controversial Ceca interview.
However, this was followed by even greater mistake. After great pressure from outside and within (if some reports about internal debates among Nova TV editorial staff are to believed), Nova TV decided not to air the interview. In its official communiqué Nova TV tried to put the all blame on Petar Vlahov, interviewer who allegedly "didn't ask the all necessary questions about war, Đinđić (Djindjic) assassination" etc. Vlahov, whose father is 1991-95 war veteran and whose grandparents were forced out of their home by Serb paramilitaries, was quite unhappy with the way he became Nova TV's sacrificial lamb and said that "he suddenly became aware that Croatians were refined, cultural people who prefer going to theatre to listening to turbo folk music".
So, after showing itself to be a network prepared to lower content standards, Nova TV presented itself as a network which bows to any kind of pressure.
However, this bowing to the pressure might be the point of the whole affair. Because, Ceca's interview is the most controversial content scheduled to appear on Nova TV, but it isn't the only one able to create controversy and bad blood among certain sections of Croatian society.
On Sunday Nova TV is going to start airing Laku noć, Hrvatska (Laku noc, Hrvatska), series of short cartoons spoofing Croatian public celebrities. The characters, drawn by Stevo Šinik (Stevo Sinik) a.k.a. Steve Cinik, are based on the likes of Severina Vučković (Severina Vuckovic), her former lover Milan Lučić (Milan Lucic), prime minister Ivo Sanader, RTL show host Renata Sopek etc. Judging by the way Steve Cinik used to cover the same material in right-wing tabloids, none of those people is going to be very happy about the way they are treated. And some of them are powerful enough to express their displeasure by pressing Nova TV, directly or indirectly. Brouhaha created around Ceca interview is undoubtedly going to help them in their efforts.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Auschwitz 60 Years Later
Many bloggers seem to have an urge to say something related to the 60th anniversary of
That includes me, although I feel uncomfortable because I don't think that anything I write might fit the relevancy and seriousness of the topic.
All I can do is to write two things. One is a personal anecdote and another is an slightly ironic observation.
Ten years ago I met an elderly gentleman and shook his hand. There was something strange in the way he shook my hand and looked at me. I never knew what it was but it was quite uncomfortable. I felt like I was shaking hands with some supernatural creature rather than a frail old man. Later they told me that the elderly gentleman survived
This might look like a plot of a bad horror film, but sometimes I think that the horror and evil that old man had experienced somehow found a way to affect people even today.
I could only imagine what kinds of stories can tell people indirectly affected by
On the other hand, what proved to be the bad thing for citizens of
Kozjak, the most popular mountain in Croatia
There are three reasons why I made this post.
First one is to test how this blog can handle images.
Second purpose of this post is to show readers that there isn't any snow in
Third reason why I made this post is to acquaint the readers with Kozjak, the most popular mountain in
Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Snow Falling On Palm Trees
Snow fell on
However, when snow falls on
[ADMINISTRATIVE] New Blogroll Addition and Some Changes
Balkan-Scissors added to blogroll.
I intend to make something like a minor make-over of this blog in very near future. I would appreciate any advice and suggestion about design.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Ceca ante portas
Croatian media is doing anything in their power to make Niko Kranjčar's transfer from Dinamo to Hajduk this into a cosmic event. However, despite Kranjčar being greeted by thousands of enthusiastic Hajduk fans in
The Transfer of the Decade is going to be overshadowed by the Interview of the Decade.
Nova TV, privately owned national TV station which had lost most of ratings war in 2004, is apparently ready to do anything in order to bring viewers to screens. For Petar Vlahov, host of Drugo lice talk show, "anything" means having a show with the most controversial guest imaginable.
The guest of the show, which is going to be aired on Thursday, is Ceca Ražnjatović-Veličković (Ceca Raznjatovic-Velickovic), Serbian turbo folk star, which is also known as the widow of notorious Serbian paramilitary Željko Ražnjatović (Zeljko Raznjatovic) a.k.a. Arkan.
Ceca, despite Arkan's militia being responsible for all kinds of atrocities in during the war in Croatia and despite standing for her late husband and everything he had symbolised, enjoys incredible popularity in Croatia, especially among the people whose political sympathies are set far to the right. The more someone rants against reconciliation with Serbs and any other "insult to the memory of Patriotic War and thousands of martyrs slain by Serbs", the more likely is for that person to enjoy Ceca's music.
The interview, during which Ceca is going to express her view on 1990s wars and share some untold stories about her incarceration after Đinđić (Djindjic) assassination, is almost certainly going to be among the highest rated shows in the history of Croatian television. Needless to say, it is going to spark enormous controversy and that controversy is, of course, going to bring even those viewers who would, under normal circumstances, avoid Ceca na her music like plague.
To say that Vlahov and Nova TV are being criticised is understatement of the century. Many claim that they lowered the standards of Croatian television and that it is simply unacceptable for Croatian television with national license to host the widow of a man "who has done
Both groups of critics have valid points, but they are wrong for at least two reasons.
First, nobody saw interview and nobody knows what the interview would look like. Perhaps Vlahov had some sort of journalistic epiphany and asked the right (and for Ceca unpleasant) questions. Although his previous interviews don't give much hope for that, he should be given benefit of the doubt.
Second, even if Vlahov didn't ask proper questions, he or Nova TV shouldn't be accused of some unforgivable crime. All they did was for the sole purpose of increasing ratings and they wouldn't have done if not for one very simple reason – Ceca is popular among Croatians. Without that popularity there wouldn't have been any interview.
The real problem is not in Nova TV. It is in all those hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of Croatians who don't see anything wrong with Ceca's music.
So, anyone who criticises Nova TV is only shooting at the messenger.
Monday, January 24, 2005
This blog has been nominated for Satin Pajama Award in two categories.
I don't want to insult your intelligence by saying that I don't feel flattered or that I wouldn't appreciate your vote.
Yet I don't expect to win in each of those two categories. However, you might follow the link and at least find some interesting blogs that deserve the award more than this one.
Denis Latin on Big Brother Croatia
There is first time for everything. Tonight Croatian state television had the very first talk show solely dedicated to the show belonging to rival TV station. Latinica, popular show hosted by Denis Latin, dealt with Big Brother, which had been aired on RTL Televizija.
Of course, this isn't the first time Denis Latin dealt with television programme not belonging to his employer. In late 1990s Latin and Latinica have defected from HRT to TV Mreža (TV Mreza), network of local stations which was supposed to be transformed into first privately-owned national TV station. He made a series of shows, and one of them dealt with HRT 3 – third national channel which was supposed to be privatised. Latinica did a hatchet job on HRT 3, trying to prove that state-run HRT could do well without it and that the frequency should be given to commercial station. Although Latin enjoys quite a reputation as a brave journalist, that show was one of the darker chapters in his career. Thankfully for him, TV Mreža, financed by Croatian tycoons connected with Tujman's regime, went down into oblivion and Latin returned to HRT shortly afterwards.
However, while most people forgot that episode, I didn't. So I was anxious to see whether the history will repeat itself and whether Big Brother
Latin didn't do this, at least not as explicitly as I feared. He brought the usual set of celebrities and public personalities traditionally divided into "pro" and "contra" camp. The former included Dnevnik journalist, composer of Big Brother theme song and Mario Kovač (Mario Kovac), one of show's story editors. They were accompanied with Iva Carić (Iva Caric), described as best friend of Zdravko Lamot. That young lady talked a little bit in the beginning and tried to say something in the end, but I doubt that many will remember her participation. "Contra" camp was represented by university professor from Zadar, Catholic theologian and Massimo Savić (Massimo Savic), pop singer who attacked the show for the lack of "artistic skills" among participants.
In the debate itself "pro" camp generally managed not only to stand its ground but to score some major points against "contra" camp. However, accompanying TV footage was mostly anti-Big Brother. The most disturbing were images from Samobor few weeks ago, recorded when Saša Tkalčević (Sasa Tkalcevic) and Zdravko Lamot tried to give autographs in local shopping malls. The mall was literally besieged with hundreds of children and young teenagers leading to a panic among mall executives and security personal – they all looked concerned over more than real possibility of catastrophic stampede.
Scenes like that are the reason why even the biggest fans feel comfortable about show being over.
Sunday, January 23, 2005
Hearts of Iron 2 – First Impressions
After two years Paradox Entertainment has issued one of the most anticipated PC game sequels – Hearts of Iron 2. Naturally, by the time I got my copy, Paradox has issued its first patch – 1.1. This didn't bode well, but I tried to see whether the sequel is better than original.
I didn't want to be overwhelmed and I wanted my first test game to be short. Unlike HOI 1, this game together with four campaigns (Road To War, Blitzkrieg, Awakening the Giant from HOI plus Gottämnederung from HOI Platinum) has couple of individual scenarios that allow players to recreate individual battles instead of the whole war.
However, while individual scenarios might offer some glimpse into game mechanics, the only true measurement of difference between HOI 2 and HOI 1 is the grand campaign. I picked Road To War (1936-1948) and played as
In many areas HOI 2 represent an improvement over the original. There are more nations to play, and there are also more provinces. Graphics look more impressive and there are more leaders with more personality traits.
Trade and economics mechanisms are also significantly improved. Resources are divided into more abstract categories like Energy, Metals, Raw Materials and Oil. With Raw Materials replacing Rubber from HOI 1, some tropical nations like
I'm less enthusiastic about technological research. Compared with HO1 1, it is more simplified, less detailed and, therefore, allows less space for experimentation or fine-tuning of each countries' and each militaries' specific needs. This is a far cry from HOI 1 where the player had to choose what kind of calibre he wanted for the its light tank main guns. In HOI 2 player gets only generic light tank, which has the same specification regardless of whether it is Japanese or German. The good news about research is ability to trade technologies without diplomatic cost, although it is, compared with HOI 1, done indirectly via blueprints that has to be researched, although with major bonuses.
More problems can be found in AI, although only in later stages of the game. Since played as
The only major divergence in 1939 was Stalin's decision not to go to war with
In 1941 historical pattern was again followed and Hitler invades
The most important divergence was Japanese decision not to attack
American entry to war, however, didn't reflect much on
Then AI began to act funny.
The strangest thing to happen was Soviet decision to spare
I also noticed some annoying aspects of diplomacy. As
I must say that I'm not too enthusiastic about the game, but I'm not too disappointed. AI problems and some diplomacy issues can be solved in subsequent patch. I'm not so sure about technological research – this is a leap that requires Hearts of Iron 3 rather than regular patch.
My impressions about the game, however, can change if I choose to play major power and thus become familiar with some aspects of naval, air combat and long-term-strategy.
In the end, I should also praise Paradox for choosing to have original game soundtrack instead of classical music. Andreas Waldetoft is a very talented composer and some of his themes contribute a lot to the atmosphere of the game.
Saturday, January 22, 2005
[ADMINISTRATIVE] New Blogroll Additions and Some External Problems
I also must address the issue of Draxblog 2. Those who tried to reach Croatian version of this blog weren't able to do so in past few days. It is due to some technical diificulties at its host server - blog.hr, which has affected most of Croatian blogosphere, including some Croatian celebrities.
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.
Limits of Fame
While so many people strive to become famous, those who do reach that goal only discover that reaching fame, regardless how difficult it might seem at the beginning, is much easier than maintaining fame.
Those who chose Big Brother
Some Big Brother Croatia contestants, however, fared better than the others.
Saša Tkalčević (Sasa Tkalcevic) seems to be following the pattern noticed in other nations' Big Brothers. Despite being the winner and presumably more famous, he is less likely add long-lasting fame to his financial reward. After few brief public appearances he found himself a relatively quiet marketing-related job in one Bjelovar firm.
Other contestants, less popular but, in a way, more colourful, enjoy better success in having their faces on the pages of Croatian magazines. Good example could be found in two finalists - Alen Macinić (Alen Macinic) and Marina Bajlo – who, unlike their former housemates, had some media attention.
However, the way they got the attention wasn't by their own choosing. Last week
However, upset or not, Alen and Marina behaved like real troopers the next day in
Friday, January 21, 2005
Transfer of The Decade
Those who follow Croatian soccer league are more than aware that they may see many interesting things, but truly competitive soccer is not one of them. That doesn't mean that there aren't competitions between clubs, but those competitions rarely have anything to do with the events on pitch.
In case of Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb, the old rivalry is reflected not only in the ancient feud between Torcida and Bad Blue Boys – clubs' fan groups – but also in the rivalry between Igor Štimac (Igor Stimac) and Zdravko Mamić (Zdravko Mamic), two strong and colourful personalities that dominate those two clubs. For years those two men fought bitter war over player transfers, trying to secure each and every promising soccer star (or, to be more precise, what the media tried to describe as "promising soccer star") for Hajduk and Dinamo.
Lately, it is Hajduk that has the upper hand. Dinamo, plagued by bad results and with players being subjected to threats and physical assaults from disgruntled Bad Blue Boys, was helplessly watching their arch-rival cruising to top spot in the mid-season. All that led to internal problems in the club, most of them related to club's main star, or, what many had hoped to be club's main star – Niko Kranjčar (Niko Kranjcar), son of Zlatko Kranjčar, veteran Dinamo Zagreb player.
Niko Kranjčar, his excess weight and consequent lack of playing potential are among convenient excuses for the bad results of Dinamo. Kranjčar was gradually snubbed by fans and his team mates and his transfer was seen as a godsend.
However, this was also opportunity for Štimac to make his move and offer what many saw as a "transfer of the decade". Media reports that some 1.5 million € were offered for Kranjčar's transfer.
It could be argued that the main motive for transfer is less improving Hajduk and more humiliating Dinamo. In any case, many hard-core Dinamo fans saw the transfer as betrayal and Kranjčar was very reluctant to agree until very last moment.
However, after days of drama and Kranjčar being subjected to intense pressure from his father, the deal was clinched today.
It remains to be seen whether the change of scenery will help Kranjčar improve his game.
In any case, those Croatian interested in good soccer are more likely to watch RTL Televizija, which has recently acquired broadcasting rights for English Premier League.
Crossing the Old Lines
Serbian movies are making good business in Croatian video stores, Bosnian actors are main stars of Slovenian television, Croatian pop stars are popular in
One of the phenomena to mark this normalisation is To sum jas, Big Brother-style reality show which implicitly panders to Yugonostalgia among its fans and viewers.
However, when the show's producer Zoran Ristovski tried to be explicit with Yugonostalgia, it turned out that the some wounds were still too fresh.
Ristovski decorated To sum jas house with Tito's pictures, hammer and sickles, large Tito's signature and "Work and only work" – slogan used at the gates of infamous Goli Otok prison. The show hosts were supposed to wear uniforms of Tito's Pioneers youth organisation.
The show aired on Wednesday but only for Macedonian, Serbian and Montengrin audience. Slovenian, Bosnian and Croatian television refused to
air it, because "the show's purpose was entertainment and not politics".
Anja Alavanja, one of
Index.hr site in the article reporting the story used computer graphics to offer its readers an image of what the viewers were deprived of.
Faced with the potential loss of advertising income from the Slovenian and Croatian – the most lucrative of all former Yugoslav media markets – producers of To sum jas have seen the error of their ways and decided to remove the controversial scenography.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
Agonies and Ecstasies on the Ski Slopes
Only few weeks ago there was 16 degrees Celsius in
Mercifully, the weather got gold again and today the very first World Cup event in Croatian history was held. Since Sljeme happened to be home slope for Janica Kostelić (Janica Kostelic),
At the very beginning it looked like the things would go smoothly for Kostelić. Her arch-rival Anja Paerson – who always gets booed by Croatian fans on the Slovenian slopes - made an error in the first run.
Only few minutes later it was Janica's turn to make an error. The very first event held on her home turf and large expectations proved too much of a burden for her. She didn't finish the first run.
However, Ana Jelušić (Ana Jelusic) and Nika Fleiss – two other Croatian athletes – managed to win 8th and 9th place, respectively, so the very first Croatian World Cup ski event wasn't complete disappointment for the home crowd.
American and Croatian Excuses
Executives of GFK and PULS – two agencies that embarrassed themselves with the Croatian presidential election exit polls – can comfort themselves with their American colleagues being affected by the same sort of predicament few months ago.
However, unlike them, American polling agencies have decided to actually conduct survey and see what had gone wrong with their exit polls. The results of the survey indicate the young of age of interviewers being one of the most important reasons for discrepancy between the exit polls and actual votes. Younger interviewers tended to attract disproportionate number of younger interviewees who disproportionately tended to vote Kerry.
GFK and PULS, while trying to explain what went wrong with their exit polls, also tended to put the blame on older and less educated voters who weren't likely to respond to interviewers. But their statements don't point to the age of their interviewers and the way they could affect the exit poll results.
Apart from dead women in
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
I didn't blog about Prince Harry's costume party and the brouhaha it had created. I didn't have much time, and I believed that other, more informed people will have much better things to say. It seems that I was, at least partially right. This piece, more or less, corresponds with my thoughts on the whole issue.
Furthermore, if someone indeed tries to use this incident as an excuse for EU-wide ban on Nazi insignia, this will be the worst thing to come out of the whole affair.
First, I'm more than aware that some people in
Two years ago, on this very blog, I gave the same benefit of the doubt to Ivica Kostelić (Ivica Kostelic) only to realise that there was, sadly, that his problematic statement indeed had some basis in his personal ideology.
In any case, whether Harry is indeed a Nazi or not, his, or any other case, shouldn't be the reason for such insignia to be banned. If the proposed legislation is indeed adopted it would do more harm than good. It won't suppress Nazism – those who are inclined to such ideology will embrace it one way or another.
One thing that such legislation might achieve is to turn many young and irresponsible, but otherwise harmless, people into criminal. Another, more problematic, consequence is forcing neo-Nazis to go underground and sweeping the whole issue under carpet. The Nazis won't disappear – they will only learn how to hide and the smug self-assured
I'm also reminded of a similar case which happened in a country that was as anti-Nazi as anyone can imagine and which laws were as strict as those recently proposed for EU.
In second half of 1980s former Yugoslav public was shocked with the scandal which bore great resemblance to Prince Harry's youthful prank. One night there was a huge party in
One of the attendees, however, later did some great things. Miljenko Jergović (Miljenko Jergovic) first became a reporter from besieged
While it is hard to imagine Prince Harry having such epiphany, it is uncomfortable to think that
Tuesday, January 18, 2005
Weak Characters and Weak Ratings
According to the article in today's issue of Globus, Endemol Entertainment is deliberating possible lawsuit against the organisers of To sum jas, reality show popularly known as Ex-YU Big Brother. Endemol Entertainment is currently studying the show in order to determine whether the concept was stolen from the original Big Brother or not.
Zoran Ristovski, one of To sum jas producers, has promptly reacted. He issued an official statement naming 20 major differences between the ex-Yugoslav show and original Big Brother. He attributed the eventual lawsuit to professional jealousy which is, according to his words, "sign of weak character".
Original or not, To sum jas is reaching high ratings, even in
Monday, January 17, 2005
Sanader's European Comfort
Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) tries to use as much momentum from his victory as possible. Less than 24 hours after polls closed he asked not only for defence minister Berislav Rončević (Berislav Roncevic) to resign but also for Croatian electoral laws to be changed in order to prevent any further meddling of Herzegovinian "diaspora" into Croatian elections.
Thankfully for Sanader, only a day after his great defeat he managed to score something that the media would hail as major victory. He flew to
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
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,
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.
Sunday, January 16, 2005
[ELECTION 2005] HDZ Concedes
HRT has called the elections for Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) in its first special election report.
In HDZ headquarter Ivan Jarnjak, former Tudjman's minister of interiors, was the first one to publicly concede Jadranka Kosor's loss.
HDZ has good reasons not to push this election any further. The sooner this whole process disappears from public memory, the better for that party. Especially since the way they handled the campaign reminded many of rhetoric and practices more characteristic of the old hard-line nationalist Tudjman's HDZ and not the "kinder and gentler" version Sanader tries to sell to the public.
Kosor's attempts to present herself as modern "European" liberal candidate were fruitless partly due to her own inability to stray from Tudjman-style Mesić-bashing and partly because of her cause was being adopted by Croatian far right. One of the examples can be found in infamous "Templars" leaflets. Today they were distributed on the island of Čiovo (Ciovo) by a Catholic priest during morning service.
However, even more problematic for HDZ is Kosor's reliance on
[ELECTION 2005] Landslide All But Confirmed
If the actual results don't stray much from exit polls, Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) is going to have a record margin of victory in the history of Croatian presidential elections, surpassing even Franjo Tudjman in his best days.
HDZ all but conceded, with their officials saying that the exit polls are "significant".
HRT, quotes unnamed sources within State Electoral Commission and says that the first batch of returns also points to Mesić landslide.
Mesić campaign expects the their candidate's percentage to fall under 70 % once the
[ELECTION 2005] Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) By Landslide?!
RTL Televizija and Nova TV, based on their exit polls, are calling elections for Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic). He won 71 %, Jadranka Kosor won 25.5 % with some 3 % invalid ballots.
Of course, exit polls aren't that reliable but this looks like landslide to me.
First images from HDZ headquarters will say whether these exit polls are to be believed.
Ratko Maček (Ratko Macek), chief spokesman of HDZ, said that if the result is close to exit polls "it should be respected as voters' will".
This looks like concession to me.
[ELECTION 2005] Herzegovina Electing Croatian President?
Last time GONG, Croatian election watchdog NGO, made quite an embarrassment of itself by claiming the first round of presidential election to be regular only to discover dead people voting and other massive irregularities in Bosnian polling stations. This time they don't take anything for granted. They increased their presence at the polls and while the election still goes on, their reports are very different from the rosy pictures painted two weeks ago. According to those reports, there were instances of Croatian citizens with Croatian residence voting both in
In the meantime, State Electoral Commission updated its data. At CET the turnout was 39.84 %, which is 2 % lower compared to first round turnout.
At the same time, Radio 101 reports that the turnout in Mostar, capital of
These numbers don't look good for Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic). Although he had a massive lead two weeks ago, Kosor slightly improved her poll numbers after the debates and her voters, being more disciplined and more inclined to vote, are going to increase her percentage with the low turnout. High turnout in Bosnia-Herzegovina, especially in
Saturday, January 15, 2005
[ELECTION 2005] Second Chance
Two weeks ago Croatian public took great deal of pride over the fact the presidential election was the first one not monitored by foreign NGOs and election watchdogs. This was taken as a proof of Croatian democracy being mature and not needing foreigners to rescue it from being overtaken by authoritarian past.
However, after the initial disbelief allegations about fraud at Bosnian polling stations became legitimate enough for Ivica Crnić (Ivica Crnic), chairman of State Electoral Commission, to admit that something was very wrong. Ivica Crnić said that the State Electoral Commission had replaced the electoral board members at the problematic polling stations.
This time, however, at least some people are taking fewer chance. According to official data, there are 222 more election observers more than in the first round and some 22 OSCE observers are going to cover polling stations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia-Montenegro.
Friday, January 14, 2005
[ELECTION 2005] Templars From The Air
Today is the last day of election campaign. Tomorrow starts so-called "electoral silence" that would last (at least formally) until the publication of the first results.
Needless to say, the campaign intensified in the last days and became more eventful. And, as it is the case, I haven't got as much time to blog about as I have wanted.
The most spectacular event of the campaign is the yesterday's distribution of leaflets in
When confronted by media,
It is still uncertain whether the dropping of leaflets, which has caused some problems with traffic on
In any case, image of political extremists operating planes and using them to make their point isn't exactly the most comforting one in post-9-11 world.
Thursday, January 13, 2005
Police Killing In Split
Ranko Grković (Ranko Grkovic), 44-year old police inspector from
Despite its recent violent past and large amounts of firearms in private hands, killings of police officers are relatively rare occurrence in
However, if certain unconfirmed news proves to be correct, all those debates aren't likely to happen in near future, because, in most likelihood there won't be any trial. This afternoon, Siniša Bubić was killed in Mravinci near
In any case, I doubt that citizens of Split and Croatian public in general would care much which one of those two stories is true.
According to official police statement, Bubić at CET opened fire on policemen conducting search in Mravince. They returned fire and shortly afterwards Bubić was found dead. First indications are that he committed suicide after being wounded.