Croatian prime minister Jadranka Kosor has finally announced her long-expected cabinet reconstruction. Four ministers have lost their jobs, all of them extremely unpopular among Croatian public, and were replaced with completely unknown, "fresh" faces that should help Kosor "turn the page" and have better chances at next year's parliamentary elections.
Among the four the biggest name is finance minister Ivan Šuker, deemed responsible for some very unpopular moves like emergency taxes, and also held responsible for terrible Greece-style fiscal mess Croatia finds itself in. He is followed by defence minister Branko Vukelić, associated with some shady dealings during Sanader era, albeit not shady enough for him to miss . Construction minister Marina Matulović-Dropulić is often named as embodiment of conflict of interest, and she is also passionately despised by Zagreb civic activists over her role in Varšavska affair. Finally, culture minister Božo Biskupić has made enemies among increasingly powerful right-wing faction of HDZ over his ministry's financing of Snježana Kordić's book Jezik i nacionalizam (Language and Nationalism) which claims that Croats and Serbs speak the same Serbo-Croatian language.
Three of their replacements are relatively unknown - new finance Martina Dalić used to switch between working as HDZ cadre in Finance Ministry and in private banking sector; new defence minister Davor Božinović is non-partisan cadre who used to work as career diplomat; new construction minister Branko Bačić is party loyalist who spent most of his careers working as undersecretaries in HDZ cabinets. Domagoj Ivan Milošević, who is named as new deputy prime minister, is businessman known for harsh criticism of previous HDZ governments, mostly due to their "socially sensitive" and "anti-business" policies.
The only recognisable name among new arrivals into Croatian cabinet is new culture minister Jasen Mesić. He was somewhat of a logical choice for Biškupić's replacement, since he was Biškupić's deputy between 2005 and 2008. He came into public spotlight when he was appointed as Zagreb HDZ leader by Sanader in 2008 and sent into already lost electoral battle with Milan Bandić during mayoral elections one year later. Then he was humiliated again by Sanader's successor Kosor when he was removed from that post and replaced by foreign minister Gordan Jandroković.
Yet, despite those harsh setbacks, Mesić appears to be one of the few HDZ politicians with something of a future ahead of him. Only few years ago, Sanader was criticised for "destroying that young man's career" by facing him against all-powerful Bandić. Today, when he takes the government ministry, Mesić appears to be not only fresh, but also attractive face. One part of his appeal could be in certain physical resemblance to JFK that could serve him very well in future elections. Another plus for his post is the fact that Culture ministry happens to be the government's department least likely to cause misery for average Croatian. So, he can easily create positive public profile without offending most of the voters. Furthermore, he doesn't have to worry much about Kosor, due to his absolute loyalty and ability to take one for the team. In 2015 (or earlier), when HDZ starts rising back from 2011-12 elections ashes, Jasen Mesić could the face of that resurrection.