Theatrical background served Ivo Sanader very well last night when he proclaimed HDZ victory. The numbers processed and analysed this morning by Croatian media and professional pundits told quite different story.
The number of HDZ seats County assemblies – most obvious indication of a party’s fortunes – has decreased by nearly 25 %. Gains in Dubrovnik in few other areas were more than compensated by comprehensive drubbing HDZ got in all urban areas and loss of some cities and counties which previously seen as solid HDZ country.
One example is Dalmatia. 10th anniversary of Operation Storm is going to be celebrated by Knin City Council where for the first Serb party SDSS has biggest number of votes. In nearby Sinj, home town of Mirko Norac and staging area for all protests against Ivica Račan’s (Ivica Racan’s) government, HDZ has lost power for the first time since establishment of Croatian government. Debacle in Sinj might explain why HDZ also lost Split-Dalmatian County.
Even races in which HDZ won are hardly triumphs for that party. In many of them HDZ won due to being allied to HSLS and DC and for many of those victories to have some meaning, alliances with HSP and far right parties – something that might take away many of Sanader’s PR points in Europe – is necessary.
In other words, HDZ was defeated at this election. Even Zlatko Tomčić (Zlatko Tomcic), chairman of HSS and politician not known for jumping to conclusions, is expecting this to result with Sanader losing his razor-thin parliamentary majority and calling for new elections before the end of year.
This appraisal of elections is shared even by Večernji list who had its policy shifted towards right after the arrival of Miljenko Manjkas, new editor-in-chief and former Tudjman’s Young Turk. For them HDZ lost this election.
But, whether this loss is going to reflect itself in the loss of HDZ power remains to be seen. The harder, more important but also a less transparent part of process begins today when the parties and coalitions start working on creation of new local governments. Parties who came on the top might see themselves in opposition due to some unprincipled backroom deals and defections.
There is, however, one clear loser of these elections. It is Croatian people.
The administrations they chose are in most likelihood going to be characterised by corruption, inefficiency, lack of responsibility and general dependency on Zagreb and central government’s coffers.
And in most cases they have only themselves to blame for that. This election had 35 % turnout – the lowest in the history of Croatia.
This means that around 65 % of Croatians came to conclusion that the democracy isn’t worth participating.
And knowing Croatian mentality, I am certain that even larger percentage is of opinion that Croatian democracy isn’t worth defending.
And with this kind of attitude, all kinds of abuses are something that this and every other government can get away with.