Marinko Culic of the Split weekly "Feral Tribune," writes about the current situation within the Croatian opposition for the "AIM" news pool on August 23, 1998.

For months, the Croatian opposition is lingering in its helplessness to find a coalition model for the next parliamentary elections (regular ones are supposed to be held next year, but there is a possibility they could be held ahead of time). To be fair, there is the existence of the Porec group, which includes the Liberal party of Vlado Gotovac, Istrian IDS of Ivan Jakovcic and HNS of Radomir Cacic. But it is, first of all, a mirror of disintegration of the opposition, since the largest opposition party SDP is refusing to join it, while Budisa's HSLS, which consolidated itself successfully before its split with Gotovoc, is not even invited to join.

While it almost seemed that this stillness will take effect, SDP and HSLS announced in Split that they have come to an agreement on cooperation before and after the election. The surprise was even greater, since not a long time ago HSLS refused to join a group of parties (SDP, LS, HNS, IDS, HSS) which visited the State Department, so there was grounds to believe that this party is not interested in electoral cooperation within the opposition.

Besides this, the position of HSLS leader Drazen Budisa has been known for a while that it is his orientation towards taking over HDZ voters, and not towards the opposition electoral body. This meant that HSLS did not want to enter into any binding coalitions with opposition parties, which Budisa openly stated.

It is not clear whether Buisa imposed himself, or whether Racan (SDP), allowed him to do so, but the HSLS president is presenting himself as a typical spokesman, if not the ideologue of the Split agreement. In an interview, he called the Split agreement a "historical compromise" of the Croatian left and right, the goal of which is to replace HDZ from power.

This is one of the key sentences, since it is obvious that the HDZ position is to be attacked by depriving it of the monopoly to represent the historical right (which goes as far as open flirting with Ustashi fascism) as well as historical left (which goes as far as possessing Croatian anti-fascism). Budisa's declaration of HSLS as a "conservative" even "nationalistic" party, sounds like a thrown glove to HDZ, and it is interesting that usually very wary SDP decided to follow suit.

Along with this, the most important side of the SDP-HSLS is the decisiveness, as interpreted by Budisa, not to count anymore upon the "liberal" forces within the HDZ, so that Mate Granic just received one more symbolic call to distance himself from the worst elements of the current official policies, or to capitulate.

But what was most anxiously awaited was the reaction of Gotovac. What angered him the most is that Budisa did not even mention his party, or more precisely, it was mentioned only as one of the possible partners with whom the Split two will negotiate. This objection to the Split agreement could prove to be the key one. Budisa and Racan have already shown elitistic arrogance towards some smaller parties (IDS), while others are showing them loyalty out of fear not to be pushed aside (HNS). That is why there is a possibility that the split duo builds a wall around itself, and for once, the talkative Gotovac could be right.

Source: "AIM" news pool August 23, 1998

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