Dok se međustranačko i predsjedničko savjetovanje privodi kraj, evo jedan komentar o “dužim stazama”, stvarnim problemima Pročitajte komentar Nataše Srdoć na Balkan Insight iz Adriatic Institute, u kojem je izražen pesimistički ton o budućnosti povjerenja u hrvatsku demokraciju nakon ovh izbora gdje se mandat za Vladu može dobiti jedino kupovinom glasova (čitaj HSSa i HSLSa). Naravno, niti jedna kupovina nije besplatna, a ova bi se skupo platila uvijetima koje HSS traži i koji bi teško okrnuli ekonomiju. Srdoč zato preporučuje da i HDZ i SDP odbace “dilanje” sa ovakvim troškovima. Konkretnije kaže da “Bilo koja Vlada formirana trampanjem budućnosti građana radi interesa političara nastaviti će trend nestabilnosti i neodgovornosit.” Kroz takav proces sastavljanja Vlade dolazi do situacije zanemarivanje interesa glasača i primarnih razloga zbog kojih su glasači izašli na izbore. Naravno, realna Vlada se mora sastaviti unatoč HSSovim apsurdnim zahtjevima koje bi uistinu bilo bolje odbaciti. Srdoč je pogotovo oštra u svojoj kritici HDZa koji ne posjeduje moralni autoritet za sastavljanje Vlade iako je osvojio većinu zastupnika. Najveći problem je i dalje korupcija oko koje HDZ nije napravio ništa na najvišim levelima. To nije ništa novog. No kritična je i prema SDPu, gdje je Milanović odbacio Jurčića kao premjera-stručnjaka i reformski, ekonomski program, te istaknuo sebe za premjera jer naravno tako ima veće šanse dobiti mandat od predsjednika. (Nataša Srdoč bila jedna od organizatora Jurčićevog odlaska u posjet bijeloj kući). Upravo je to učinjeno kako bi Milanović pregovarao i “dilao” sa HSSovim uvjetima radi sastavljanja Vlade i tako narušio povjerenje glasača koji nisu glasali za SDPovu Vladu “pod svaku cijenu.” Tu je Jurčić u pravu. Prema tome i SDP već ima packu za moralni autoritet.
Ja sam kopirao cijeli tekst niže i kao uvijek boldao zanimljive rečenice.
07 December 2007
Whoever takes power, HDZ or SDP, Croatia’s next government must fight corruption fearlessly – or prepare to be judged a failure.
By Natasha Srdoc in Rijeka
Two weeks after Croatians voted in a general election on November 25, Croatian democracy is ailing.
Voters’ split decision has given neither of the two main parties a clear mandate to govern, but this is not the problem. The illness afflicting Croatian democracy is official corruption, and the parties alone have the power to put things right.
Voters saw last month’s election as an opportunity to elect a government with a greater degree of moral authority to govern than the last one, led by the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ). They made it clear that “corruption and the economy” was their chief concern. Their concerns led to a surge in support for the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDP).
Now, whichever of these two parties finds a way to power must reckon with voters’ concerns. They must reckon with the need for better governance, greater transparency and less dirty dealing – and they must react positively.
In the wake of polling margin of just 10 parliamentary seats separates the HDZ and SDP. The HDZ controls 66 seats, five of which represent Croatian diaspora voters, and the SDP controls 56. Since neither party claims enough seats to form a government outright, both aim to haggle their way into power.
Sadly there is a great risk that, amid the haggling, the interests of every voter and of Croatian democracy as a whole will go ignored.
Small parties relish such a chance to play kingmaker. Indeed, some small parties already have been instrumental in keeping the underdog SDP’s hopes alive. Together with its likely coalition partners, the SDP lays claim to 67 seats, the same as the HDZ, which so far enjoys additional support from just one minority member of parliament.
The end game looks likely to be determined by two small parties, the Croatian Peasants Party (HSS) and the Croatian Social Liberal Party (HSLS). After campaigning together in an electoral pact, they won six seats and two seats respectively.
From their current position, these minor players are able to wield an enormous amount of influence over the country’s political future. Unsurprisingly, in dealing with both the HDZ and SDP, they are pushing for maximal influence on issues of special interest to their supporters. They are playing for the best deal.
Croatia therefore faces an acute risk that the current process of government formation – and dynamics likely to stem from it, which will echo through politics until the next general election – will undermine an important opportunity. Special interests and backroom dealing are inevitably a bad combination, and trust is already running low.
The incumbent HDZ, far more than the SDP, deserves blame for Croatia’s corruption problem. Ivo Sanader, the prime minister, and his party could emerge victorious in the end game, but even if he can scrabble together enough seats in the parliament to secure support, the HDZ arguably lacks the moral authority to form a new government.
During the past four years of HDZ-led government, high-level corruption has gone unpunished. Party leaders, having inherited the autocratic structures previously run by Franjo Tudjman, Croatia’s authoritarian president during the 1990s, show little actual regard for transparency, accountability and rule of law. A future HDZ-led government would therefore face the challenge of clearing the decks, challenging the crony capitalism on which the party continues to thrive.
The 2007 EU Progress Report for Croatia noted that “corruption remains widespread”.
“There is a need for greater efforts to prevent, detect and prosecute corruption. No indictment or verdict has been issued in any high-level corruption case. The concept of conflict of interest is little understood. Implementation of the anti-corruption program lacks strong coordination and efficient non-partisan monitoring. Corruption at the political, economic and institutional level, including the judiciary, as well as the general tolerance of petty corruption remains widespread,” the report added, echoing the 2006 EU Progress Report in a measure of how little change has taken place.
Troublingly for Croatia’s still-young democracy, the HDZ brought its bad habits with it into the recent pre-election campaign. Ahead of the campaign, the Sanader government placed party loyalists on the editorial board of HRT, the public broadcaster, when then took steps to cancel some critical news coverage. One senior journalist said of the board move that it “pushes HRT back by ten years” – in other words, back into the Tudjman era from which the HDZ has only partly distanced itself.
Facing such criticism, the HDZ’s preferred tactic is to wrap itself in the European Union flag, drawing contrast with the HDZ of the isolated Tudjman era. Indeed, during the campaign the party released a bizarre television advertisement that included endorsements for Sanader and the HDZ from European leaders such as Angela Merkel, Bertie Ahern, Kostas Karamanlis, Jean-Claude Juncker, prime ministers respectively of Germany, Ireland, Greece and Luxembourg.
Ironically, the video love letter from Sanader’s EU admirers backfired a bit, drawing criticism from the Croatian Ethical Committee, a state body, for violating electoral ethical standards by using official visits of foreign leaders for campaigning purposes.
An equally striking pre-election move was the government’s decision to time its use of public funds and property to boost loyalty and minimise criticism. So great were the increases, as noted in the EU Progress Report, that the government risked undermining its own subsidy reduction plan when it boosted aid to “loss-making enterprises”. The government also issued massive payouts to farmers and Roman Catholic churches while privatising shares in Croatian Telecom at a discount marketed explicitly as a way for citizen buyers to turn tidy profits.
If this is not a crisis in moral authority, what is?
Yet at the same time, the SDP, which campaigned as the obvious alternative, has is some ways injured its position since November 25.
Central to the SDP’s election campaign was the party’s designation of Ljubo Jurcic as its prime ministerial candidate. Jurcic, a former minister of economy who participated in the SDP-led government of 2000-2003, was widely regarded as clean choice. His reputation for getting things done and his untainted record, which included the first privatisation phase of INA, the state-owned energy company, attracted anti-corruption voters.
Jurcic’s demotion after the election, from prime ministerial candidate to deputy prime ministerial candidate, is distinctly awkward. In his place, the sudden ascent to the top spot by Zoran Milanovic, the young SDP president, increases risks that the party, endeavouring to form a government with HSS-HSLS backing, will barter away some of its developing reformist principles.
A young generation of SDP supporters, more inclined to embrace market reforms, has been shifting the party toward the centre, away from the left. If this movement within the party prevails, the party’s ex-communist old guard could lose more influence, allowing the SDP to become more effective force for reform.
Today, as inter-party negotiations continue, the most pressing risk for the SDP as an reformist force is that Milanovic will cut deals with the HSS-HSLS that fly in the face of good sense, crippling the next government from the start.
Nacional, a weekly magazine, reported that the HSS-HSLS’ conditions for forming a government include state subsidies worth 24bn kunas (3.3bn euros) for agriculture, investing in 100,000 small farms, increasing the minimum pension to 1,500 kunas (205 Euros), financial decentralization and implementation of a plan to establish an economic zone in the Adriatic. Threatening to generate intense controversy, the HSS-HSLS is also reported to be demanding a 10-year ban on selling land and real estate to foreigners.
Such costs would be unbearably high for Croatia’s economy, which is already much less competitive than it should be.
The HDZ and the SDP should both reject them, on principle. Any government formed by bartering the future of citizens for the interests of politicians will continue the trend of instability and unaccountability.
Natasha Srdoc is president of the Adriatic Institute for Public Policy, a free-market think tank in Rijeka, Croatia. Balkan Insight is BIRN’s online publication.